Maxey, James Barney (1881–1953)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

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James Barney Maxey, contractor and businessman, was born on April 10, 1881, on the family farm near Prosper, Texas, one of ten children of James Joseph and Nannie Elizabeth (Goodnight) Maxey. His only formal schooling consisted of five four-month terms in a one-room schoolhouse at Rock Hill. In 1898 he began working as a carpenter in Prosper and within four years had launched his career as a building contractor. In 1904 Maxey contracted for several small buildings for the Frisco Railway, riding a bicycle up and down the right-of-way from one location to another. Ill health prompted his move to Plainview in 1906, but within fourteen months he had recovered and made enough money to marry his fiancée, Effie Glen Nicholson, on December 4, 1907. Four sons were born to them. For the next decade the Maxeys made Plainview their home. In 1919 they moved first to Pampa, then Wichita Falls, then back to Plainview, where they remained for another five years. During this time Maxey contracted for many residential homes and several large commercial and public buildings, among them the Guaranty State Building in Plainview, Plainview High School, and the Lamb County Courthouse in Olton. He served as director of civic improvements in Plainview and was on the Board of City Developments. In 1924 the family moved to Lubbock, where Maxey contracted mainly for commercial enterprises. His many contributions in Lubbock included the city's first water system, the old K. Carter School, the First National Bank building, and St. Paul of the Plains Episcopal Church. He also contracted for various schools and churches in surrounding communities. After Texas Technological College opened in 1925, he built the first president's home on the campus. Maxey's integrity and fair business dealings became legendary, and he became involved in numerous civic enterprises. He served on the Lubbock City Development Board and City Park Board and for eleven years was director of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, of which he was president for one term. During World War II he served nearly three years on the gasoline-rationing board. As a member of Kiwanis International in 1950 he received its Legion of Honor award. He also served on the Lubbock Crippled Children Council and was instrumental in establishing the Lubbock County Society for Crippled Children. A faithful Methodist, he served for forty-four years on the board of stewards in both Lubbock and Plainview and in 1952 was made a life member of the board. He died in Lubbock on April 9, 1953, and was buried there. Maxey Park, a 100-acre city park featuring a playa in Lubbock's hospital district, was named for him.

Seymour V. Connor, ed., Builders of the Southwest (Lubbock: Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, 1959).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Maxey, James Barney,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995