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Maxwell, Hugh, was born at Port, a Ferry, Ireland, December 7, 1777.
His father's family were Scotch; his mother's, English. When about twelve
years of age he came to Philadelphia as ward and heir of a rich maternal
uncle named Bingham. At the age of nineteen he entered into the book
publishing business in partnership with Matthew Carey, and in connection
with him published one of the first literary magazines in Philadelphia. He
afterwards edited a magazine called the Port-Folio.
While engaged in book publishing, he cast his own type and made his own
In the financial crisis, which occurred soon after the War of 1812, he
lost heavily in business, and retired to his farm near the city. The
activity of his mind would not suffer him to remain long in retirement; he
removed to Youngmanstown and afterwards to Bellefonte, in both of which
places he published newspapers.
In 1817 he removed to Lancaster and established The Lancaster Gazette,
which he edited and published for a number of years. He then purchased
The Lancaster Journal, one of the oldest Democratic papers in the
State, which he published until 1830.
||While a citizen of Lancaster he
was ever an ardent and effective advocate of a State system of
public improvements. He was one of the most active members of a
company organized in 1820 for the improvement of the navigation of
the Conestoga, and called the first meeting (held at Columbia) for
the purpose of interesting the people in one of his cherished
projects, the uniting of the city of Philadelphia with the
Susquehanna, at that point, by rail. He had the satisfaction of
seeing this work carried to completion, amid much opposition and
ridicule. He was, if not the founder, one of the originators of the
"Mechanic's Literary Association" of Lancaster, and its first
President; the author of several useful inventions, among which the
"Printers' Roller," for which he obtained letters patent, in 1817,
was the most important. He was one of the first to call attention to
the causes of boiler explosions, for which he received much
commendation in the newspapers at that early day.
He discovered the Lykon's Valley and Short Mountain coal fields, and
with William White, ex-Sheriff of Lancaster, sent the first coal to market
from those mines. As a writer, Mr. Maxwell was remarkable for facility and
vigor, was an industrious reader, a profound thinker and a bold leader in
public affairs. He died at the residence of his son, Dr. Thomas Maxwell,
Jackson Hall, Franklin County, Nov. 1st, 1860.
Among the young men in his printing offices who rose to positions of
influence, John W. Forney, of Philadelphia, and John H. Pearsol, founder
and still one of the publishers of the Lancaster Express newspaper
are worthy examples. (By Mrs. J. R. Sypher.)
Source: An authentic history of Lancaster County, in
the state of Pennsylvania; Lancaster, Pa.: J.E. Barr, 1869, 813 pgs.
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