Jonathan Dixon Maxwell

This image is derived from a photo of auto industry pioneer Jonathan Dixon "J.D." Maxwell that was published in the May 8, 1910 Indianapolis Star.
The photo was a bit of an orphan on the newspaper page as it did not support any particular article but instead was simply included in the section of the paper that focused on automobile news. While the heading associated with it reads, "Indiana Auto Maker Heads Big Company," that's a little misleading as all the information I have indicates that while he helped found the Maxwell-Briscoe Company, his partner Benjamin Briscoe was president.
Still, there can be no doubt Maxwell was a force in his company and in the industry at large. Prior to founding Maxwell-Briscoe in 1904 Maxwell worked with some of the leading lights of the early days of the automobile industry, especially those of the Mid-West. Among these were: Elwood Haynes, the Apperson brothers and Ransom E. Olds. He rubbed elbows with Henry Ford and worked with Walter Flanders who picked up the pieces of the failed Briscoe brainchild United States Motor Company (USMC), an amalgamation of several struggling manufacturers of which only Maxwell would emerge successfully. With the failure of USMC, Maxwell was once again an independent company and actively involved in auto racing with stars like Eddie Rickenbacker and Barney Oldfield.
The arc of J.D. Maxwell's career is a bit fuzzy but the company that badged his name enjoyed good success for a time until management fumbled the ball through poor financial decisions. In the early 1920's it combined with Chalmers Motor Car Company and was acquired by Walter P. Chrysler who became chairman. Chrysler reorganized the company and imposed his name on the new corporation in 1925. As for Maxwell, the man, he passed away three years later in 1928.
At the time this picture was captured the Maxwell-Briscoe Company had one of the largest automobile factories in the world in New Castle, Indiana.

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