Maxwell Lawson (perhaps christened as John Maxwell Lawson) was born in 1802 in Tennessee, but who exactly his parents were is unclear. Maxwell married Anna Gray in 1820, but what her ancestry was (besides her parents) is overall unclear. Maxwell and Anna had 19 children; they lived in Tennessee until the 1830s, when they moved to western Arkansas.
Maxwell was a farmer, initially in northeast Tennessee near the Cumberland Mountains. He did well enough to be able to support a large family and buy land. He must have moved west in part because he sought more opportunity where land was more available and perhaps less expensive.
Maxwell was a Democrat politically and a primitive Baptist religiously.
Maxwell and Anna relocated to Wesley, Arkansas. They bought a house in 1832, which was destroyed or razed, replaced by a two-story house still standing in Wesley that was built by their son William Riley after the Civil War; Maxwell and Anna probably lived in the house at the close of their lives. The house was a southern style house with a broad open veranda-porch. It was situated in the Arkansas forest.
Maxwell and Anna’s children fought for the Confederacy. Maxwell was apparently a captain in the Tennessee militia during the 1830s. There is no evidence that he owned slaves, though his father-in-law, Jacob Gray, who also moved to western Arkansas, owned a few female slaves.
Maxwell’s sister Lucretia married Blackburn Thompson in 1832; he was born in 1791 in Virginia. They moved to Campbell Co Tennessee and had a child Andrew J. Thompson on Oct 7, 1816. Blackburn fought under Jackson in the War of 1812. He and Lucretia moved to Madison Co Arkansas in 1856; he died in 1861.
Maxwell possibly had other siblings as well: Sophia, (1794-1880); James Robert (1803-1871); James Henry (1805-1876); Martin (1820 -?)
Maxwell’s parents were probably Randolph and Susanna Cross Lawson (the other strong candidates are Robert and Anne Goad Lawson). In support of the Randolph and Susanna is a land deed from 1832 that shows that Randolph purchased land in Campbell Co, the same place where Maxwell was born and where he too owned land. There is also a land purchase in the 1820s that shows Randolph Lawson and Maxwell Lawson buying land by New River. Robert Lawson also bought land in Campbell County. He and Randolph were apparently close friends or relatives, and fought together in the Virginia militia during the American Revolution.
Anna’s parents were probably Jacob C. Gray and Mary A. (Polly) Shreeves.
Maxwell seems to have been a big, burly man, very serious, virile, living until age 70. His photographic portrait shows a stern, dignified country man. He does not appear sad, just more of a serious gaze into the hardship of life. A survivor. He had a full head of hair and was generally handsome.
His wife was likewise big, burly, serious, and virile, bearing 19 children and living until she was 70. She was born five years after Maxwell and outlived him by five years. There is a sense of sadness and hardship in her photographic portrait. She appears to have been a beautiful woman with nice features.
Of their children, first born Calvin, 1825 to 1907, was a farmer who fought for the Confederacy. He married Jane Ann Fritts. Both were illiterate. Their second child was Polly, who married a man named Johnson. Their third child was Sarah, born in 1829 and dying in Texas in 1897. She married Clairborne Fritts in 1847. He was a Confederate soldier. Their fourth child, Elizabeth, born in 1830, married Martin Counts. Their fifth child was an unnamed female who died young. Their sixth child, Caroline, born in 1834, married Bud Williams. Their seventh child, David, born 1835, married Bashaby Counts. He was killed in the war. Their eight child, named Miles, died young. Their ninth child, Martha, was born in 1837. Their tenth child was William Riley Lawson, who was a Captain in the Confederate cavalry during the war. He married in 1866 and served as a postmaster and storekeeper in Wesley Arkansas. Their eleventh child, Samuel, born in 1841, married Kesiah Fritts. He was killed May 10, 1865, crossing the Mississippi River, coming home from the war, by bushwackers. Their twelfth child, Matilda, born in 1842, married a man who was killed in the war. Their thirteen child, John, born in 1843, married Mary Burks. Their fourteenth child, Phoebe, married Sam Henson. Their fifteenth child, Calloway, born in 1846, married Elizabeth Jane McElhaney. Their sixteenth child, Freeman, was born in 1848. Their seventeenth child, Nancy, married Zak Templeton. Their eighteenth child, Louisa, was born in 1855. Their nineteenth child, Margaret, married Dave Lucas.
Maxwell and Anna and other family members are buried in a small cemetery outside of Wesley, Arkansas.