Not far from Alexander City, Alabama, just off the highway, is a little cemetery across the road from a church. Walking down a minor slope, it doesn’t take long to find a flat stone engraved with the name Willie Maxwell. Born on May 31, 1925, he was shot to death fifty two years later on June 18, 1977 in the House of Hutchinson funeral home and presented to this piece of ground as a reward for misdeeds that could never be proved in a court of law.
One plot over and on the next row up sit two more stones memorializing Maxwell’s relations who died under mysterious circumstances.
John C. Maxwell, brother of Reverend Willie, lived from 7/11/19 until 2/6/72. The headstone says nothing of the method of his demise, but back in ’72 his death was ruled an overdose of alcohol. Speculation later suggested that his blood alcohol level was so high that the liquor must have been forced down his throat.
Then there is, or was, Dorcas A. Maxwell, second wife of the Reverend, found dead in her car on September 20, 1972 after suffering a sudden and symptomless bronchial infection somehow triggered by a superficial glance to the head.
Closer to the highway, buried with the Edwards clan, is Mary Lou Maxwell. She lived from 7/17/27 until she was found dead in her car on 8/4/1970. Perhaps she had bronchitis as well.
In the same section is found the Reverend’s nephew, James Edwards Hicks, who lived from 3/29/53 until 2/16/76, when he too was discovered in his car by the side of the road.
Members of the same family are often buried close to one another, but isn't it ironic that a group who died around the same time and under similar and enigmatic circumstances should find themselves buried in a place called Peace and Goodwill?