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September 11, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Frank N. Maxey’s Well Water: Part IV

Buckingham County: Sharon Baptist Church

Sharon Baptist Church, Photo by Joanne Yeck

In 1957, when Lily Patteson looked back on the growth of Well Water in Buckingham County and wrote about it for Charlottesville’s Daily Progress.

Click here if you need to catch up: Frank N. Maxey’s Well Water: Part I.

Among the diverse industries at Well Water, there was a saw mill and a cabinet maker. Not all of Mr. Maxey’s experiments were equally successful. Miss Patteson explains:

Cabinet Maker

Perhaps the one industry, after the buying and selling of tobacco, which brought Well Water into wider prominence than any other was the building of a cabinet maker’s shop and securing the services of an experienced maker of furniture. Here in the midst of paint and varnish, lumber and tools, were constructed pieces of furniture that at first seemed marvels of ingenuity to longing housewives. Later the glamour faded somewhat, when the drawers refused to “draw” and beds came apart unexpectedly, as is often the case when an article has to be produced cheaply to meet a low price demand.

A sawmill in connection with the gristmill and meat route delivery to Arvonia, where the newly arrived slate workers from Wales were clamoring for fresh meat, especially beef, were some new trial occupations. In all we are told there were 14 or 16 separate businesses being conducted on the now very large plantation.  Approximately 50 workers were employed in the busiest season.

The quiet and retiring, Mr. Maxey was by no means conservative and has been sometimes called too progressive for his own profit. That widely-heralded soil panacea now so commonplace on farms, was first sowed in Buckingham County, it is said, by Mr. Maxey on the fields of old Well Water.

Miss Patteson went on to note F. N. Maxey’s connection with Sharon Baptist Church, his role as the Sunday School superintendent, and that he was a charter member of the Board of a Baptist orphanage in Salem, Virginia. Closing with her signature, romantic style, she wrote:

One bright December afternoon, when Mr. Maxey had journeyed quite some years into his eighties, he quietly bade old Well Water and his achievements there “Farewell,” and went to render his account to the Great Auditor. Surely he was greeted, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”.


Special thanks to the University of Virginia for making available digitized copies of The Daily Progress and to Phil James for sharing this gem of an article by Lulie Patteson.

Coming next: F. N. Maxey, Freemason

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