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Salem Pioneer Cemetery ~ Benjamin Isaac Maxwell ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
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Benjamin "Ben" Isaac Maxwell
LAST NAME: Maxwell FIRST NAME: Benjamin MIDDLE NAME: Isaac NICKNAME: Ben
MAIDEN NAME:  AKA 1:  AKA 2:  AKA 3: 
TITLE:  GENDER: M MILITARY: 
BORN: 25 Feb 1898 DIED: 25 Dec 1967 BURIED: 2 Jan 1968
ETHNICITY:   OCCUPATION:  Historian, Writer, Photographer
BIRTH PLACE:  Salem, Marion Co., Oregon
DEATH PLACE: Salem, Marion Co., Oregon
NOTES: 
Name of father Isaac Newton Maxwell
Maiden name of mother Medora Hayden

MARRIAGE - to Louisa Augusta Hager, 7 Sep 1918 in Marion Co., Oregon
1900 OR CENSUS - Benjamin I. Maxwell, age 2, b. Feb 1898 in Oregon, is enumerated as the grandson in the home of Zarilda Hayden, age 68, b. Mar 1832 in Illinois, along with her children Estel, age 38, single, b. Aug 1861 in Oregon, and Clell, age 36, single, occupation dentist, b. Sep 183 in Oregon
1910 OR CENSUS - Benjamin Maxwell, age 12, b. Oregon, is enumerated with his father, Isaac N. Maxwell, age 55, widow, occupation capitalist, b. Tennessee 
[Benjamin is enumerated twice in this census - see following record]: 
1910 OR CENSUS - Benjamin I. Maxwell, age 12, b. Oregon, is enumerated as the grandson in the home of Zerilda Hayden, widow, age 77, b. Illinois, along with her children Estelle, age 50, single, b. Oregon, William O., age 48, widower, b. Oregon, and Clel, age 44, single, occupation dentist, b. Oregon.
BIOGRAPHICAL: Salem historian/writer, 1898-1967, left great photo albums, scrapbooks.
See also www.salemhistory.org/people/
DEATH CERTIFICATE: 
OSBH DC (Marion County 1967) #17852
OBITUARY: 
MAXWELL, BENJAMIN POLK COUNTY SAGE BEN MAXWELL DIES 
Ben Maxwell - "the sage of Polk County"; "the bard of Eola Hills" - is gone. Living on, in the wake in life he created, is his memorial to the past he loved so well. Maxwell died of a liver ailment on Christmas in a Salem hospital, 68 years and 10 months from the day he was born into a pioneer family. He was generally recognized as the Mid-Willamette Valley’s chief historian, particularly for Salem and Polk County. He said once, "The historical inclination grew on me like any other disease." Later, explaining why he continued his research and gathering of printed and photographic memories of history, Maxwell said: "It’s more comfortable to live in the past than in the present, because you can eliminate what you don’t like about the past. You have to live with what you have in the present." Yet Maxwell lived in the present, too, and became well-known not only because he was a walking history book but for his colorful turn of speech. He described one politician as "nothing whittled down to a fine point." And he said of another that he "could hang a gate and daub mud on the inside of a chimney, but he never will write poetry." Another of Oregon’s noted historians, state archivist David Duniway, called Maxwell "A great figure in the historical world. His work has been tremendous. He knew more of the history of Salem and Polk County than any other member of the community, and he expressed himself tersely and effectively in describing. it." "He had a charming style." Maxwell’s memorial is his own. He studied, committed to memory, indexed and compiled information on events of the Salem area from the arrival of the first white settlers in the 1830’s down to the present. At his home at 3760 Dallas Road NW he maintained what probably is the state’s largest private library on Oregon history. There are thousands of old photographic negatives, books, and indexed scrapbook containing his historical articles, city directories from as far back as 1871, a collection of paintings, articles, notes and mementoes. His combings of history will become the property of the Salem Public Library. Maxwell’s widow, the former Louise A. Hager, whom he married in 1918, said he provided for disposition of the collection in his will. Salem Librarian Hugh Morrow called it "The finest gift the library ever has had of historical books. That’s a wonderful collection." Morrow included among the major attributes of the collection Maxwell’s own scrapbooks of stories he wrote about historical events. 
Maxwell’s articles and pictures appeared in such publications as American Heritage, Sunset, Better Homes and Gardens, the New York Times, the Oregonian, the Oregon Journal and various horticultural magazines. Most of what he wrote appeared, however, in the Capital Journal, for which he worked in various capacities from 1936 until his retirement a few years ago. A story about the merger of the cities of Salem and West Salem, which he wrote some time ago, was published in last Saturday’s Capital Journal. 
Maxwell was born Feb. 25, 1898, at 574 15th St. NE, where he also was raised. He was the son of I. M. and Medora Maxwell and the grandson of Ben Hayden, a Salem pioneer of 1852 and a celebrated criminal lawyer. Maxwell graduated from Salem High School in 1917. His parents both died during his childhood and left him with some farm and business property, which he managed since. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1925, where his studies centered around history and journalism. 
Since 1926 he and Mrs. Maxwell lived along the Dallas Highway in the Eola area. Their former home had to be removed to make way for widening of the highway about three years ago. Maxwell rebuilt along the Willamette River, after first taking into consideration his own records of great floods of the past. His records and his judgment proved sound when waters of the "100-year flood" of Christmas, 1964, rose to his doorstep, then fell away. 
Besides his work and occasionally his participation in history, Maxwell wrote about himself years ago for the Capital Journal files ended with this self-effacing sentence: "Accomplishments, small; hobbies, none; joys, few." Every body knew it wasn’t true. 
Capital Journal 26 Dec 1967 1:1-8 (with photo) 

BEN MAXWELL SUCCUMBS AT 69 
Ben Maxwell, 69, 3760 Dallas Road NW, historian and news photographer, died Monday in a Salem hospital. He had been employed by the Capital Journal for more than 20 years and was widely known for his historical articles and research on Salem and Willamette Valley history. The body was taken to Virgil T. Golden mortuary. 
Oregon Statesman 26 Dec 1967 1:2 

NOTED VALLEY HISTORIAN DIES 
Benjamin (Ben) Isaac Maxwell, 69, 3760 Dallas Road NW, who died of a liver ailment Monday in a Salem hospital was a native and lifelong resident of Salem. 
A news photographer and feature writer with the Capital Journal for more than 20 years, he specialized in Oregon history, particularly in that of Salem and Polk County. His last article appeared in Saturday’s paper and told of the merger of Salem and West Salem in 1949. 
He also was well-known for his library of historical books and photographs, which represented a lifetime venture. For many years he maintained an orchard in the Eola area west of West Salem. He graduated from Salem High School in 1917 and from University of Oregon in 1925. His widow Louise, whom he married here in 1918, is his only survivor. 
Services are pending at Virgil T. Golden mortuary. 
Oregon Statesman 26 December 1967 8:1 (with photo) 

BENJAMIN I. MAXWELL 
Private services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at Virgil T. Golden mortuary for Benjamin Isaac Maxwell, 69, a news photographer and feature writer with the Capital Journal for more than 20 years, who died Monday. Rev. George H. Swift will officiate. Burial will be in Pioneer Cemetery. 
Oregon Statesman 26 December 1967 8:2 

LIFELONG DEVOTION 
Every community needs at least one dedicated local historian. In the Salem area, Ben Maxwell played the role with uncommon devotion over a period of several decades.
 A retired Capital Journal staffer until his death Monday, Maxwell was a delightful nonconformist. He was a country philosopher and humorist as well as local historian of considerable note. Many historians mine facts as a means to an end, to support sweeping generalizations and romantic stories about the past. But Maxwell was a very different sort of historian. He dug up facts by the thousands, the trivial as well as the momentous, largely as a labor of love. He didn’t enjoy organizing them into packages or patterns, although he did so just enough to write hundreds of articles for the Capital Journal and other publications. But he didn’t produce many glib or romantic conclusions. He let the facts speak for themselves, in an encyclopedic manner, salted with wry humor. 
We recall the pleasure of accompanying Maxwell on a walk through downtown Salem. He could recite from memory the construction date and ownership of dozens of downtown structures. And, for many pieces of real estate, he could tell you which pioneer but what there in the 1850’s. Then he would describe the fire which wiped out that structure, and thence the second and third generation of buildings on the site. Maxwell carried much of his knowledge in his head. But he also acquired an extensive collection of documents and photographs of lasting historic value. These included the articles he wrote on dozens of subjects. He also owned many early day city directories and other documents which shed light upon Salem’s past. His library has been described as the most valuable private historical collection in Oregon. Fortunately, he has willed this collection to the Salem Public Library. So it will be available to future students of the community’s history. All of us need to know about the past in order to understand where we are today and where we might go in the future. Ben Maxwell’s lifelong devotion to the study and reporting of Salem’s past made a great contribution to the mid-valley area and its people. Let’s hope there are others who will aspire to fill his shoes. 
Capital Journal 27 Dec 1967 6:1
INSCRIPTION: 
Maxwell 
Benjamin I. 
1898 - 1967 
[shares marker with Louise]
SOURCES: 
LD 
LR 
ODI 
S&H pg 51 
Saucy Survey & Photographs
1900 OR CENSUS (Marion Co., Salem, ED 129, sheet 3A) 
1910 OR CENSUS (Marion Co., Salem, ED 222, sheet 20A) 
1910 OR CENSUS ( Marion Co., Salem, ED 221, sheet 4B) 
Oregon Marriages, 1906-20 CJ 26 December 1967 1:1-8 (with photo) 
OS 26 Dec 1967 1:2 
OS 26 Dec 1967 8:1 (with photo) 
OS 26 Dec 1967 8:2 
CJ 27 December 1967 6:1
CONTACTS: 
LOT: 939 SPACE: 4 SW LONGITUDE: N 44° 55.208' LATITUDE: W 123° 03.012'
IMAGES:
           
 
 

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