Richard Maxson Founder’s Stone, Portsmouth, RI

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The Maxsons Begin with the Founding of America.
By Ray Maxson

It was always a mystery to me..  Where did I come from?  Who were my grandparents and ancestors? What part did they play in the history of  America?  What is my Maxson legacy and is there anything that I can do to continue it?


          My Journey Back In Time- Back Across the Continent

I started in Washington State, in the far western part of America, and did not know anything about Maxsons.  At an early age, I asked where my Grandfather came from my dad said that he was Henry Maxson who homesteaded in Nebraska in 1880 and before that, he came from Denmark.  Because Maxson is the Denmark way to make names: the son of Max is Maxson.  This was a myth, which I was able to expel, when we went to the County Court House of the homestead of Henry Maxson in Nebraska.  These records led to the conclusion that he was born in Connecticut and moved to Illinois.

          Revolutionary Colonel Jonathan Maxson

This led to an adventure, locating my ancestors back in time. The journey led East, to New York and Connecticut and finally to Rhode Island and my ancestor, Col. Jonathan Maxson of Richmond, RI. He was a Patriot in the Revolutionary War.  This was in the tradition of my father, and uncles who fought in W.W.II,  my great Uncle who fought in W.W.I, and my Great Grandfather,  Henry Maxson, who lied about his age (he said he was 18 when he was 16), to join the Civil War for Illinois, all fighting for America and the Freedom of all Americans.   Along the way,we found wagon train drivers crossing the West by the Oregon Trail, and adventurers who homesteaded in Washington, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, New York, Connecticut and finally to our beginning in Rhode Island.

We are all Maxsons with historic ancestors, and this can lead, as it did with me, to honoring Maxson Ancestors, like Col. Jonathan Maxson in Richmond, RI.  With this famous ancestor, I was able to gain membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.  We celebrated him with a Marker and SAR Color Guard Presentation at his grave in 2004. His cemetery is at the RI State Historic Site, Cemetery #38 in Richmond, RI, and the Maxson Family has its Marker there, for all time.

          Richard, the First Maxson

Looking further back, Paula Maxson and Jane Maxson helped me make the documentation and connection to Richard Maxson who homesteaded in Portsmouth, RI in 1639.  Richard, the Founder of all known Maxsons, (and many Maxons, too) in America first came to Boston in 1634 as a servant and Blacksmith, in the service of Mr. Averill.  In 1639 he moved to Portsmouth, RI, signed the Portsmouth Compact of 1639, and became a Founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  He had land in Portsmouth and had two sons, Richard and John.  Tradition says that Richard and his oldest son, Richard Jr., were killed by Indians at Throggs Neck, NY in 1643, but his son John survived and returned to live in Newport & Westerly, RI.  [More discussion on what the differences between what is known and what is believed can be found elsewhere on this site]  Assuming there was a Richard Jr, and assuming he had no children, it stands to reason that Richard’s son John became the ancestor of all Maxsons in America.

          Prestigious Groups You Can Join

With a little documentation of my ancestors lines, I was able to connect to this history and was able to join several Orders:  The Order of First Families of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,then the Rhode Island Order of the Founders and Patriots of America (OFPA), and finally to The National Society of the Sons of Colonial New England.  As a male Maxson, you can also join these hereditary and patriotic societies.  They all have sister organizations (the Daughters of) that the Maxson women can join.  Just let me know if you need the documentation.  These organizations are rich in history and genealogy.

          The Maxson DNA Project

I was also able to document and connect the DNA of several presently living descendents of John Maxson. (You can, too, at the website:  with a special 33 chromosome Y-DNA test for following the male line.)

The OFPA has a program to Commemorate the Founders of America.  Founders are identified as any male head of family that is documented to homestead in any of the 13 original colonies during the first 50 years, from 1607 to 1657.  There are about 2280 Founders of Early American Families identified. Richard Maxson qualifies for his homestead in Portsmouth, RI.

          Founders Park Commemoration, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

So to make a lasting memory to Richard, a stepping stone in his name was placed at Founders Brook Park, along with the markers commemorating other Founders who came in 1638-1639. This honors him for playing a role in founding the first religiously tolerant colony of the New World: Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  His descendants, are here today due to his spirit of adventure and endurance.  His essence guided his descendants in surviving, multiplying, taming America, and fighting for the independence of The United States of America.  Our ancestors also participated in our Country’s vast expansion. To attest to the Maxson spirit of adventure, the Stepping Stone was donated by the Western Maxsons from Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho.

As a Maxson (and then, the Governor of the North Carolina Society of the OFPA), I went to Portsmouth accompanied by my wife, and was joined by Jane & Jonathan Maxson and found the Richard Maxson Homestead. There we got permission to place
the Stepping Stone at Founders Brook. This was celebrated on May 24, 2009 by the Maxson Family members, and The Society Orders listed above.

The rain stopped just long enough for us to have the ceremony and unveil the Richard Maxson Stepping Stone.  Founders Brook Park is beautiful and the sky was sunny for the ceremony.  With about 30 people attending, we all had a great time greeting, documenting our history and ancestors and discovering more of our heritage. The Orders members also were able to make ancestor connections for the first time.  The program started with Posting of the Colors by The Color Guard of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Then, Pastor Henry Maxson gave the Invocation.  Henry Maxson also had given the Invocation for the SAR Marker for Col. Jonathan Maxson in 2004.  Henry and Vickie Maxson and his family were present for this ceremony, along with many from Jonathan & Jane Maxson’s Family.  This was followed by the Introduction of the Honored Guests and Maxsons.

Then Ray Maxson and the National President of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, Governor General, John Bourne unveiled the Stepping Stone for Richarde Maggsen (Richard Maxson as his ancestors have spelled it since 1680).  Maxson Historian, Jane Maxson, gave a short history of the life of Richard Maxson and the location of his homestead lands. There was a 4 acre home and garden near Founders Brook that is now under water.  There is a second 20 acre plot of land that was used for a pasture and is now occupied by a 24 story Luxury Condo with a Yacht Landing on the Western side of the Island.  This is rumored by be renting at $6,000,000 a year for the top floor by celebrities. (We all thought that Richard Maxson should have held on to this land for his descendants!)

This was followed by the Presentation of the Wreaths for the Maxson Family Association, by Helen Maxson, and for the Order of the Founders of America by Ray Maxson, Past Governor of the North Carolina Society.  Then we all reviewed the history and our connection with Richard Maxson, the Compact and the land owners of Portsmouth, RI, from 1638 to 1645.

Along with Richard Maxson, some of the landowners were: Jared Bourne, James Babcock, Thomas Brooks, Tobias Brown, Henry Bull, John Butts, Benjamin Chase, John Clark, John Cook, John Earl, John Green, James Greenell,John Hall, Richard Hart, William Hutchinson (Anne Hutchinson), John Lewis, Joseph Martin, John Moore, John Morris, Joseph Nicholson, Anthony Paine, George Parker, John Pearce, John Porter, Abel Potter, John Sands, Anthony Shaw, Joseph Sheffield, Richard Shrieve, James Sisson, Thomas Slade, John Slocum, Nicholas Spinks, James Taylor, John Tefft, Joseph Thomas, Walter Todd, John Townsen, John Tyler, John Vaughn Thomas Wait, John Walker, John Ward, Clement Weaver, Bartholomew West, John Wilbur, and Daniel Wilcox.

After the unveiling of the Stepping Stone, most of the orders made champagne toasts.  The President of the First Families of RI and Providence Plantations, Harold Sands, presented a tie to Ray Maxson from his order and noted for the first time that he had found a homestead of his ancestor, John Sands.

Here is a list of those who signed the attendance sheet for the celebration. Ray & Helen Maxson, Dale Boting, Katie Gardiner, Clint Gardiner, Sidney Clifford, (RI-OFPA Governor), Diane Larose Maxson, Elmer Hall Palmer, John and Judy Bourne, (Governor General, OFPA), Michael R. Northup (SAR/OFPA/FFof RI),  Richard L.H Zuhn, Harold & Joan Sands, Robert H. Midwood, David Porter Maxson, Scott Maxson, Joyful Gardiner, Judith Maxson Sharnik, Duane Maxson, Nancy Lynn Maxson Gardiner, Henry & Vickie Maxson, Jonathan & Jane Maxson.

Visit the Park!

Now all the Maxsons of the USA have a permanent Meeting Marker commemorating the start of our nationwide family at our own Richard Maxson’s Stepping Stone.  It is at the location of his Homestead in the Founders Brook Park at Portsmouth, RI.  We invite you all to drop by and visit and bring some flowers and bask in the sun and Maxson Family History.

The GPS coordinates are:
North 41 degrees, 37.715 minutes,
West 71 degrees 14.735 minutes,
elevation 17 feet above sea level.

It is at Founders Brook Park on Boyd’s Lane, at the crossing of the overpass of Highway RI-24, about 1 mile from the New Hope Bridge in the middle of the island.
Contact me if you have any questions, cousins.

Ray Maxson