DOA: 16 5/8″
One drawer side is inscribed in pencil “John Tenant” for John Tenant or Tennent (1812-1884), who was born in Abbeville, South Carolina but listed in the 1850 Franklin County, Georgia, census and the 1860 and 1870 Elbert County, Georgia, census before he moved and died in Brown County, Texas.
MAKER: Like many artisans in the Georgia Piedmont, Thomas J. Maxwell (1804-1869) was both a craftsman and a farmer. In 1953, Maxwell’s granddaughter Quillie Norman recalled, “Grandpa was a cabinetmaker as well as a farmer. When his children married there was a reserve of things he had made… It must have been that he considered it part of his duty to have some of his handiwork in their hope-chests. Mother had a chest, five chairs, a wardrobe, a small table, and a rolling pin.” This piece descended in the family and is probably the small table referred to by the maker’s granddaughter.
When Thomas J. Maxwell died in 1869 his estate contained $25 worth of mechanical and shop tools and $2 worth of birch plank. Birch was often used as a primary wood in Georgia Piedmont cabinetmaking, but is seldom seen elsewhere in the American South. Maxwell may have learned cabinetmaking from his grandfather Jacob Higginbotham (1751-1836), whose Elbert County estate sale, dated 5 May 1836, listed one lot of carpenter’s tools; a turning lathe; chisels and gouges; a square; jointer, jack, smoothing, and fore planes; and walnut plank.