Biography of Judge Napoleon B. Maxey

Judge N. B. Maxey has the distinction of holding the oldest license to practice law in the Oklahoma courts. Notwithstanding the fact he is still active in the profession, maintaining his once in Muskogee but frequently called to other sections of the state in connection with his specialty of insurance and surety law. He was born in Smith County, Tennessee, July 15, 1853, and the fact that his father, Thomas J. Maxey, was of French extraction probably accounts for the name given to the future Muskogee lawyer, Napoleon Bonaparte Maxey.

Whether the name carries with it any qualifications that to of the great, French general and emperor have been manifest in the subject of this review, for he has the same indomitable spirit and courage in the face of difficulties and obstacles as marked the little Corsican. The mother of N. B. Maxey was Mary B. Day, a lady of Scotch descent, whose parents, John Douglas and Margaret (McCauley) Day, came direct from Scotland to the new world.

N. B. Maxey spent his youth upon a farm, attending the neighboring schools until the outbreak of the Civil war, when conditions forced all schools to close. When the war was over it was necessary that he assist his father in repairing the family fortunes, for disaster had come to them as the result of the long military conflict and again there was no chance for the boy to continue his education for several years.

After attaining adult age he raised a crop of tobacco and with the money earned through its sale he went to Union county, Illinois, in the fall of 1875 to visit an uncle and while there attended the district school through the winter term and in the following spring was a student during the twelve weeks’ term in the school at Anna, Illinois. He had learned many valuable lessons, too, in the school of experience and in the following winter he taught a term of school.

In the spring of 1877 he entered the University of Chicago, where he remained as a student for two years, working his way by lighting street lamps and delivering newspapers. He had thus mounted to the first rung of the ladder on which he was to climb to success and prominence. His university course ended, he returned to Union county, Illinois, where he took up the study of law under the direction of Judge Monroe C. Crawford and W. S. Day, teaching school through the winter months to meet his expenses and reading law through the summer season. In this way he qualified for the bar, to which he was admitted upon examination before the Supreme court of Illinois in February, 1881.

He then opened a law office at Jonesboro, that state, where he continued in practice until the fall of 1888. At that date he removed to Gainesville, Texas, but when congress established a court at Muskogee, then in the Indian Territory, in the spring of 1889 he removed to this city, where he has since made his home and throughout the intervening period has remained a prominent member of the profession in Oklahoma.

He has always been a thorough student of the law, preparing his cases with great care and precision, preferring to find ready solution for the intricate problems of law rather than to win financial Success. He has long enjoyed the reputation of being most kindly and helpful to young lawyers and there are many who owe him a debt of gratitude for his assistance. He was admitted to practice at Muskogee on the date of the organization of the United States court here April 1, 1889, and until the admission of Oklahoma to the Union he enjoyed an extensive practice in the United States court and since that time has been engaged in practice in the courts of the state. He has tried all kinds of cases and tried them well. In a word he is a forceful and resourceful lawyer, clear and cogent in his reasoning, logical in his deductions and strong in argument. His entire professional course reflects credit and honor upon the legal history of the state.

Judge Maxey was married in Jonesboro, Illinois, in 1881, to Miss Augusta C. Miller, and they traveled life’s journey most happily together until death separated them in the fall of 1914. They had a family of four children: William T.; Susanne; Louise, now the wife of H. S. Shuler, of Muskogee; and Thomas M., who died when about five years of age.

Judge Maxey has always been a lover of children and they always seem to recognize immediately that he is their friend. He is most devoted to his three grandsons and it is a familiar sight to see him with them in the grand stand watching his favorite game of baseball and explaining the difficult points of the game to the grandsons.

In politics Judge Maxey has always been an ardent democrat but never a politician in the sense of office seeking, and the only public office which he has ever filled was that of member of the house of representatives in the fifth legislative assembly of Oklahoma. He belongs to the various Masonic bodies, including the Knights Templar Commandery and has filled the, chair of presiding officer in all of these and has likewise been grand high priest of the Grand Chapter of Oklahoma.

His interests and activities have always centered in those channels through which flow the greatest good to the greatest number and his activity has ever been fruitful of results. He has contributed to the welfare and benefit of his fellowmen by his active support of measures for the general good, and in his home city his cooperation can at all times be counted upon to further every plan and project for public benefit. No resident of the city enjoys in larger measure the confidence, respect and good will of their fellow townsmen than does Judge N. B. Maxey.



Benedict, John Downing. Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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