James Clerk Maxwell  (Mathematician & Physicist)  1831-1879

James Clerk Maxwell was born on the 13th June, 1831, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the only child of John Clerk Maxwell of Middlebie and his wife Frances Cay. When he was two the family moved to their country home of Glenlair in Kirkcudbrightshire.

James was private educated for a while, and it was claimed by his tutor that he was a slow learner. Though as a young child he was very curious and a story that his mother recalled was of his persistent interest in the doorbell wire and where it led. He also possessed a fantastic memory. In 1841 he started school at the Edinburgh Academy, where fellow pupils nicknamed him 'daftie.' At the age of 15 he sent his first paper to the Royal Society in Edinburgh. The paper on The Description of Oval Curves described curves which could be constructed with drawing pins and thread in a similar manner to that of ellipses.

James continued his education on entering the University of Edinburgh at the age of 16. During his time there he published a further two papers, finally leaving Edinburgh in 1850 for Cambridge University first at Peterhouse, soon transfering to Trinity College where his remarkable talents were recognized. He graduated in 1854 as second wrangler and won the Smith's prize for an essay containing original research. James was then elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1855, then in 1856 he accepted a post as professor of natural philosophy at the Marischal College in Aberdeen and in the same year he started work on his work in electricity and magnetism. James wrote an paper in 1857 demonstrating theoretically that the rings of Saturn must consist of many fragments of matter rather than being solid, a fact which was confirmed by the Voyager Probes over 100 years later.

James was married on 2nd June 1858 to Katherine Mary, daughter of the very Rev. Danial Dewar, Principal of Marischal College and University, Aberdeen. Two years later in 1860 he moved to London, taking up post as professor of natural philosophy at Kings College London, after being made redundant due to the merger of the two Aberdeen Universities. In the same year he submitted papers to the Royal Society on colour and colour blindness, and demonstrated in a lecture that it was possible to produce colour photographs. Then in 1865 he resigned his post as professor at Kings college returning home to Glenair, though he frequently visited London and maintained his position as an external examiner for the Mathematical (Tripos) exams at Cambridge.

James Clerk Maxwell continued his work on electricity and magnetism and around 1865 arrived at his electromagnetic theory of light. He viewed light as consisting of transverse waves of electric and magnetic force and had come to this conclusion by his explanation of Michael Faradays discovery of electromagnetic induction in mathematical terms. He had constructed a model and found that "displacement currents" were produced in dielectric material as a result of the induction. James then went on to discover that these displacement currents could be the basis for transverse waves. He calculated that the velocity of these waves to be that of the speed of light. Realising that there was no set limit on the wave length of these waves, he predicted the existence of other electromagnetic waves. His theory also suggested the ability to create electromagnetic waves artificially. Maxwell's theory was generally disregarded until Heinrich Hertz's discovery of radio waves in 1887. Finally in 1873 he published his Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism which contains his famous Maxwell equations.

He also made contributions to physics most notably in his application of statistical probabilities of gases, producing the law of statistical distribution of the mean velocities of molecules in a gas. This included the calculation of their mean-free path and of the co-efficient of friction for gases. His ideas have also stimulated or helped research in other disciplines including Maxwell's demon in information technology and in Johannes Diederik van der Waals' theory of fluids.

In 1871 James took the new position of Cavendish professor of experimental physics at Cambridge, where he headed, and supervised during construction of, the new Cavendish laboratories. He later founded a scholarship in physics at Cambridge.  James Clerk Maxwell died on the 5th November, 1879 aged just 48 and was buried in the small churchyard at Parton in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.  

(Now we are in the atomic and space age. Changes have occurred in our knowledge of the the universe, and our way of life that few in the nineteenth century dreamed of. And as the general public looks back to see who led the way they justifiably refer to Albert Einstein, but he in turn said that it was James Clerk Maxwell who was the pathfinder. In our twentieth century those who understand consider him among the greatest scientists of all time, and could be the greatest son that Scotland ever produced.)  Rev. Andrew C. MacKay  Minister of Corsock 1979.

Jonathan Dixon Maxwell (Pioneer Motor Car Maker) 1864-1928

Jonathan Dixon Maxwell was born in Howard County Indiana in 1864 the son of Joseph and Nancy Maxwell. He was trained as a machinist in the railroad industry but was operating a bicycle repair shop with Elnier Apperson when he assisted him in building Elwood Haynes's first car in 1893 (now in the Smithsonian Institute). This partnership became the Northern Motor Car Company. Jonathan had also worked with Eli Olds in developing the Reo, later renamed, the Oldsmobile.

In 1903 he left the Northern Motor Car Company and joined with Benjamin Briscoe in founding the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company. Jonathan designed the first Maxwell car and using an existing plant at Tarrytown, New York, they started production on June 1904, building 532 Maxwell cars in the first year Their low priced, two cylinder runabouts were the first in America to have metal bodies and amongst the first to have shaft drive rather than the chain and sprocket drive derived from the bicycle. During his working career, Jonathan was to hold no less than 19 automotive patents. In 1907, a new plant was built at Newcastle Indiana, which is still part of Chrysler facilities in that city. By 1908, the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company was one of the four biggest auto-making companies in America along with Ford, Buick, Reo (Oldsmobile).

Manufacture of the two cylinder runabouts and larger four-cylinder cars continued until 1912 when their new, short-lived United States Motor Company, formed to rival General Motors Corporation, failed. Jonathan then split from Briscoe and went on to form the Maxwell Motor Corporation, financed by Walter Flanders, to build Maxwell cars. The Maxwell production plants included factories at Newcastle Indiana, Tarrytown New York, Pawtucket Rhode Island, Dayton and Highland Park in Detroit as well as facilities in Canada. The Maxwell Motor Company also leased the Chalmers Motor Company plant to augment their Highland Park facilities, both of which were needed by Maxwell to fill World War I government orders.

JDM at the wheel of a
1907 Maxwell

By 1920 the Maxwell Motor Company, Inc., owed some $43,000,000 and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Walter P. Chrysler, who had retired as President of Buick and vice-president of General Motors, was asked to head-up a reorganisation committee, which arranged for the purchase of the combined assets of Maxwell and Chalmers and formed Maxwell Motor Corporation in May 1921. Chrysler became Chairman of the Board. The company continued to build the Chalmers car and an improved Maxwell car, advertised as the "Good Maxwell." In 1924 the Chalmers marque became Chrysler with the introduction of a totally new car, the Chrysler Six which was designed by three new engineers, Carl Breer, Owen Skelton, and Fred Zeder. The following year Chrysler changed the company name to the Chrysler Corporation and the Maxwell car became the Chrysler Four, the core of its engineering being used as a platform for the new Chrysler Plymouth of 1928.


Anne Caroline Maxwell (Nursing Pioneer) 1851-1929

One of America's early nurse leaders, Anna Caroline Maxwell validated the effectiveness of appropriately trained nurses during the Spanish-American War and thus influenced establishment of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901. From 1892 to 1921, Maxwell served as the first superintendent of nurses at the Presbyterian Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York City where she devoted her career to elevating educational standards for nursing.
Born in Bristol, New York, on March 14, 1851, Maxwell moved to Canada with her parents during the early years of her childhood. Returning to the United States in 1874, she settled in Boston and entered the Boston City Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1878. Maxwell studied nursing under the supervision of Linda Richards and completed the requirements for a diploma in 1880. Following employment as superintendent of nurses in Montreal, Boston, and New York, Maxwell accepted the challenge of organizing the new training school for nurses at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Beginning with a two-year course of classroom instruction and clinical practice in medical/surgical nursing and obstetrics, Maxwell soon added contagious disease nursing to the curriculum. By the turn of the century, the course of study was expanded to three years and by 1917, affiliation with Teachers College provided the impetus for establishment of a five-year program leading to a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University and a nursing diploma from Presbyterian Hospital.
An expert organizer and administrator, Maxwell was a charter member of the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses (1893), forerunner of the National League for Nursing, and the Nurses' Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (1897), forerunner of the American Nurses Association. She was also a charter member of the International Council of Nurses (1899) and the American Red Cross Nursing Service (1899), and participated in founding the American Journal of Nursing and the Isabel Hampton Robb Scholarship Fund. During the Spanish-American War, Maxwell petitioned the surgeon general for permission to bring trained women nurses to military hospitals to care for the sick and wounded. Sent to a field hospital in Chicamauga, Georgia, Maxwell and her nurses found inadequate sanitation, rampant disease, and a high death rate. With skill and determination, they restored order, improved conditions, and reversed an appalling situation.
During World War I, Maxwell again played a central role in preparing nurses for active military service. Following the war, she worked to achieve military rank for nurses in the armed forces. Recognized by colleagues as one of nursing's pioneers, Maxwell was dedicated to improved nursing education, standardizing nursing procedures, and increasing public acceptance of nursing as a profession. She was the recipient of a medal from the French government for her contributions to nursing throughout the world, and was buried will full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery upon her death in 1929. In 1996 her name and memory was induced into the Nursing Hall of Fame.  

(Text and Photograph; Nursing Hall of Fame)


  Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell (Frontiersman, Land Owner) 1818-1875

Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois, on 14th September 1818. He was the son of a Scots-Irish merchant named Hugh H. Maxwell and his French Canadian wife Marie Odilie Menard. Lucian's unusual first names were a clear indications of his father's anti-British feelings. The family had become prosperous fur-trading with the frontiersmen who came into town and Lucien enjoyed a good education. When his father died in 1834, Lucian left school and took to the mountains learning the life of a trapper and frontiersman from his father's former business contacts. During this time he befriended Kit Carson and they travelled together off and on for the next ten years. Lucien arrive in Taos, New Mexico, in 1838 and established his trading base there. He is reputed to have spoken several languages including French, Spanish and the rudiments of a number of native Indian tongues. He was a popular young man and worked hard. He was hired as a hunter by John Fremont in 1842 and accompanied him on his mapping expeditions along with Kit Carson.
Returning to Taos in mid 1844, Lucian married, thirteen year old, Maria de la Luz, the only daughter of Charles Beaubien. Beaubien, a French-Canadian citizen of Mexico, was Taos' most prominent resident. A year earlier, with three partners and some underhand dealings, he had got a large Land Grant along the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains neighbouring the Santa Fe Trail. Maxwell returned to the trail immediately after his marriage, working again with Fremont for a couple of years before setting up a ranch in the Cimarron area near his father-in-law. Early in 1847, Mexicans and Pueblo Indians rebelled and caused a terrible massacre in Taos in which Beaubien's son, Narciso, and his one of his partners were killed. In 1847 Maria (or Luz as she was known) gave birth to Lucian only son Peter. Lucian and Luz also had five daughters; Virginia, Sophia, Paulita, Emilia and Odile. Lucian's business practices began to make him quite wealthy, but he did not stop travelling the wild country and it often brought him into contact with Indian war parties. In 1848, he and his party were ambushed by Jicarilla Apaches and all save one, all were either injured or killed, Lucian escaped back to Taos were he spent the rest of the year recovering. He was now running much of Beaubien's Land Grant, as well as a trading business at Cimarron where he was the post master and the Indian agent.
In 1864, Charles Beaubien died and the great majority of the Land Grant passed through his daughter to his son-in-law, Lucian Maxwell. Lucian was quick to round up the other beneficiaries of Beaubien's will and buy up the remaining portions of the Land Grant and so it was that with in two years, Lucian Maxwell, was the largest private land owner in America with 2680 square miles or 1,714,765 acres at his command. At the same time prospectors, panning down the Moreno Valley discovered gold. By the Spring, the rush was on and Maxwell was selling leases by the handful. Settlers and miners were moving into the area in a flood and Maxwell was making a fortune. Unfortunately his paperwork did not keep up with the influx and in later years, lease owners were embroiled in much argument of ownership. These arguments were often played out in true western style with guns and bloodshed. The period became known as the Colfax County War. The Maxwells now had a big house in Cimarron which welcomed hundreds of freeloading guests each year. The house was chock-full of young Navajo servants and over the Land Grant, Maxwell had over 500 employees. Nearly all Maxwell's business was done on a handshake, he never checked the bagsful of money that were handed over to him but was scrupulous with all his gambling debts.
The responsibility of running such a huge concern wearied Lucian and by 1869 he had had enough of the fighting leaseholders and dissolute, displace Indians that were camped on his doorstep and he sort to sell the land. In January 1870 buyers from England were found and a deal put together in which Maxwell received $2,010,000 for the Land Grant. He bought the old union army camp Fort Sumner some two hundred miles to the south. There, he rebuilt the old officers quarters into a huge house and moved his massive household down to his new home. Later that year, he founded the First National Bank in Santa Fe, but tired of it and sold it on quickly. He then invested in the Texas-Pacific Railroad, but lost a considerable sum in it's construction. He lived out his last days surrounded by his entourage of camp followers and freeloaders, gambling away his time in the converted fort. On 25th June 1875, Lucian died and was buried at Fort Sumner. He was succeeded by his son Peter and his wife, Luz, who lived on until 1900. Maxwell was an honest trader whose handshake connected the three cultures that met across his land. He was an admirable risk taker who sought greater rewards than chunks of gold. He was hospitable, generous and upright, and dispensed his large wealth acquired by industry and genius with an open hand to both stranger and the needy.

A complete history of the Maxwell Land Grant and the Maxwell family called "Tassie Maxwell and the Maxwell Land Grant Family" by Louis Serna can be obtained from Sernabook@aol.com