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Maxwell, William A. 1898-1919


Posted By: Linda Ziemann, Volunteer (email)
Date: 7/13/2006 at 15:32:27

LeMars Sentinel
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1919


To serve his country during the great war with credit and honor and to
return safe and meet death at the hands of dastard was the fate of
William Maxwell, who died from bullet wounds he received during the jail
break on Friday night. He passed away on Sunday morning.

William Maxwell was born in Plymouth county and lived here all his life
until called to service. He was born on May 5, twenty-two years ago and
was educated in the country schools and the LeMars school. He enlisted
when 19 years of age and served in Company K on the border and went to
France with the Sandstorm division and returned home seven weeks ago to
the day he was killed.

He was a fine young man, liked by everybody and his death is mourned by
his family, his friends, and host of friends.

The funeral will be held this afternoon at 1:30 from the house and at 2
o'clock at the Presbyterian church. The funeral will be under military
auspices. The order of the procession will be as follows:
Escort – One Platoon.
Service Men.
The pallbearers will be friends of his with who he served in the army:
Ben Thelles,
Fay Terpenning,
Otto H. Heeren,
Luther C. Green,
George Hes___?
George Pech.

All the business houses and offices in the city will be closed during
the hours of the funeral in honor of the deceased.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
November 21, 1919

Business In City Practically Suspended While Citizens Gather from All Over
County to Pay Last Tribute to a Gallant Youth

The funeral of William A. Maxwell, who was killed by assassins, was held on
Tuesday afternoon and upwards of three thousand people gathered to do honor
to the memory of a gallant youth who lost his life while on duty, and to
express their sympathy and sorrows for the bereaved father, mother and

Business in the city was suspended during the hours of the funeral and all
public offices and stores were closed. In point of attendance the funeral
was the largest ever held in LeMars. It is estimated that more than 2,000
persons viewed the remains after the services at the Presbyterian Church and
fully that number viewed the cortege as it left the home and joined in the
procession which accompanied the body to the burying ground. It was an
impressive sight and hundred showed visibly the mingled emotions they felt
as they thought of his untimely end and the tragedy brought home not only to
the family, but to the community.

The funeral was in charge of the soldiers of the American Legion and service
men from all over the county the following posts being represented: Wasmer
Post, LeMars; Horschler Post, Akron; Nash Post, Kingsley; Pieper Post,
Remsen; and Oleson Post, Merrill. Three hundred former service men headed by
six former service officers, all in uniform, escorted the body of the dead
young man. The line of march extended from the armory to the Sheriff’s
house, then to the First Presbyterian Church, and to the LeMars cemetery.
The LeMars Military band led followed by the colors, with a G.A.R. color
guard, Members of the American Legion were next in order, followed by a
squad of Sioux City policemen, state detectives and a detail of Sheriffs
from surrounding counties, the court house officers and city officials.

The Pallbearers were former service men of the squad which Will Maxwell was
a member at the time the LeMars troops went to Deming to join the Sandstorm

Hundreds of floral tributes, many of most beautiful design adorned the
chancel and banked the grave. The casket was draped with the colors under
which he served and fought.

At the grave side after a few brief words, taps were sounded as the body was
lowered to its resting place.

The services at the church were conducted by Rev. H. V. Comin and the choir
rendered appropriate selections. Mr. Comin said in part:

William A. Maxwell was born in Westfield township, Plymouth County, on the
4th of January, 1898. He spent his early life on the farm from whence he
attended the country schools. When the family moved to LeMars, he entered
the city schools and would have graduated with the high school Class of 1918
had he not heard and answered the call of his country to serve in the hour
of her greatest need. He volunteered his services on the 1st of May, 1917,
was inducted into our own Company K, was sent to Camp Cody at Deming, New
Mexico, on August 27, 1917, where he spent a solid year with the Sandstorm
division, sailing for France in September, 1918. He had already enlisted in
the army of King Jesus. Before the sacred desk where his body now lies, as
he stood on the threshold of young manhood, he dedicated his life to the
service of God, December 26, 1915. With the same frank and fearless
overflow of enthusiasm which characterized everything he undertook to do, he
made that confession before many witnesses and I regard it as one of the
rarest satisfactions of my ministry to have received him into full
membership of this church. Thenceforward life moved rapidly for him and
crowded into three or four years at the end were experiences such as men of
the past have been called to meet in a long lifetime. So that if you ask
for an explanation of William A. Maxwell’s untimely taking off, I answer
that life is not a matter of long years, but of purpose and depth and
“That life is longest which is best;
Tis ours to work; to God belongs the rest.”

With the manner of his going we are all quite familiar and therefore need
not concern ourselves with that now, Suffice it to say as “taps” were
sounded, marking the end of his brief earthly day, the last notes were
blended into sweetest harmony with the Sabbath morning reveille of
everlasting rest.

He has answered, “Here” to the last roll call,
Has been mustered out of these earthly ranks
But his life goes on as the curtains fall
Twixt him and the friends on these hither banks.
He has gone to join that shadowy _____.
Whose call rings loud and clear to us,
To you from falling hands we throw the torch,
Be yours to hold it high;
If ye break faith with us who died,
We shall not sleep, tho poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Rest in peace, thy warfare ended;
All thine earthly conflicts won.
All good deeds shall be commended,
Hear thy Master say, ‘Well Done.’

William A. Maxwell died in defense of those same ideals for whose
maintenance he offered his life two years ago just as truly as if he had
died on the battlefield. This tragedy opens our eyes to the fact that the
war which began on the other side has got to be finished right here at home.
Alas that so many who found it easy to die if need be in defense of ideals
should not now be willing to live for them also. Of the two services, the
latter is most difficult. William A. Maxwell did both at one stroke.
Whether living or dying, he gave all he had in defense of those principles
which we all hold dear. And, to me, the most heartening circumstances in
the world situat5ion which now confronts us is the fact that our disbanded
service men are almost a unit on the side of law and order. They will make
a short shift of sporadic revolution, and yet they will do it in orderly
ways. But, alas, that we need such blows as this to teach us the lesson of
needed vigilance! The forces that are seeking to overthrow law and to
substitute license for real liberty, are every whit as dangerous foes to the
world as the autocratic powers we have just put down; and the fight in which
William A. Maxwell lost his life is a challenge to every red-blooded
American to re-consecrate his all to stamping them out.

The tragedy occasioning this concourse cries aloud for greater speed in the
prosecution of our criminals. American justice is proverbially slow and it
is just such delays that makes justice miscarry and subjects a great many
more and innocent people to the menace of reprobate men like these. We
shouldn’t prosecute in the heat of passion,--we cannot atone for one crime
by committing another,--but better that some innocent man should suffer than
the safety of society should be imperiled by the constant threat of a crime
like this. If the man who shot Detective James Britton in Sioux City had
been prosecuted while his crime was fresh, no mandlin sentiment would have
swayed the jury to even disagree on the vote for conviction. Such methods
only serve to encourage crime and to add to the number of evil doers, as the
wise man predicted long ago, --“Because justice and judgment are not
executed speedily against an evil work; therefore the hearts of the sons of
men are fully set in them to do evil.” Every drop of William A. Maxwell’s
shed blood cries for sure and speedy justice to be meted out to those who
cared no more for his promising life, than they would have cared for the
life of a dog. Let an orderly process of law consign them, as soon as maybe,
to the place where they belong. No, I’m not going back to a barbarous age
for a law which exacts the extreme penalty. I am still representing the
Price of Peace, who, while he was merciful to all penitents, poured never
such devastating vials of wrath on those who had hardened their hearts when
he said, “Ye hypocrites, ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how can ye
escape the damnation of hell.”

There is a rod which was spoken by the man of all men—the ideal of man of
the human race—which has been ringing in my ears ever since this tragedy
occurred: “The hour is come.”

You remember that in the earlier part of his ministry, when friends were
warning him against certain dangers, suggesting that he make fewer
sacrifices and, in general, take a little better care of himself—he
answered, “Mine hour is not yet come,” indicating that for him, on the great
clock of destiny some definite hour was to mark his doom. And when that
time came, he repeated the assertion again and again, “The hour is come.”
Likewise for every many there is a fatal hour, and whether or not his life
is long or short cannot be determined by the number of his years; for some
men live longer in a minute than others in a month. It is the richness and
depth of life that counts and “Every man is immortal till his work is done.”
So William A. Maxwell could say of his life, “The hour is come,” as he gave
up his life in the line of duty.

Tombstone Photo

Plymouth Obituaries maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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