The community is on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad at the juncture of State Highway 142 and Farm Road 1966, eight miles west of Lockhart in northwest Caldwell County. In 1887 the Katy built through the community and the original name, New Martindale, was changed to Maxwell, in honor of Thomas Maxwell, who obtained a grant in 1845 for the league of land on which the community stands.
Maxwell's earliest settlers came primarily from Alabama and other states, but in the 1880s German groups arrived; their influence is still visible in the community. A Methodist church built in 1882 by Rev. Ulrich Steiner also served as a school. The Lutheran church, first organized in 1886, conducted services and classes in both German and English until the early 1940s.Mexican farmworkers added a second large component to the local population.
Social life in early Maxwell centered on the dancing, singing, and shooting clubs traditional to German communities. The Maxwell Social Club was organized in 1953 to supervise athletic, educational, and recreational activities and to assist in welfare, relief, and other civic projects.
The earliest school in the Maxwell area met three miles outside the community, but by 1892 the Maxwell Common School District was formed and a building constructed with private subscriptions. The Maxwell post office was established in 1888. The population increased from twenty-five to 100 between 1890 and 1892, and the town acquired two general stores, a gristmill, and a gin.
Fire almost destroyed Maxwell on three occasions-in 1887, in 1910, after which the town rebuilt its commercial area in brick, and in 1922. Maxwell had a population of 225, two churches, two general stores, two cotton gins, and a bank in 1914 and later three cotton gins, a restaurant, a physician, a drugstore, and numerous retail establishments. In 1929 the town had a population of 400 and eighteen businesses. It subsequently declined.
In 1980 the community was the location for the filming of a movie, Raggedy Man, in which locals appeared in small roles. The Katy Railroad, purchased by the Union Pacific, opened new routes to San Marcos in 1989. In 1990 Maxwell had the post office, nine small businesses, and a population of 185. The population grew to 500 by 2000. The community's largest employer, the Nagle Manufacturing and Supply Company, manufactured coathangers.
On 30 July 2016, the town gained attention due to the 2016 Lockhart hot air balloon crash. The hot air balloon struck a power line near Maxwell, killing all 16 occupants aboard. The accident at Maxwell is currently the deadliest in the United States, and the second deadliest in the world.
- Maxwell, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
- "Officials: No Apparent Survivors in Texas Balloon Crash". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-07-31.
- "16 feared dead after hot air balloon crash in central Texas". BNO News. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
- Barbara Stock, "MAXWELL, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlm37), accessed April 2, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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