By all accounts, Henry “Harry” Maxted had a very normal childhood. Growing up in Old Town South (See photo), he and his six siblings attended local schools. However, instead of working in the family’s dairy business, Maxted decided to pursue higher education.
After graduating from Olivet College in 1911, Maxted attended the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, a predecessor of the University of Chicago. After graduation, he became associated with United Charities in Englewood. He also served as a probation officer for the Juvenile Court of Cook County. He subsequently went to Boston where he joined the Massachusetts Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
When the United States entered World War I, Maxted did not have to serve. By then, he was 33, almost considered too old to be starting military service. But, he voluntarily enlisted in the National Guard and was subsequently activated as a member of the 104th Infantry.
Shortly afterwards, Maxted was sent to France as part of the 26th Divison. And, in February of 1918, his division was sent to the front line trenches.
On April 20, 1918, in what is known as the Battle of Atpremont, the German Army advanced on the American lines.
According to his fellow soldiers, Maxted had been standing guard in order to allow them to get some badly needed rest. And, when the enemy advanced on their position, Maxted reportedly jumped up on a parapet and began throwing grenades at them. While the attack was eventually repulsed, Maxted lay dead, a victim of enemy fire. He would be buried with full military honors in France.
Nine days later, Western Springs residents gathered at the Congregational Church to remember the life of Harry Maxted. And, in the following year, a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was formed and named their post after Harry Maxted.
In 1921, the Western Springs Women’s Club presented the Village with a tree to be planted on the Tower Green. A stone marker placed at the base of the tree was provided by the War Department to the families of deceased servicemen who were buried overseas. See photo.
This marker still stands on the Tower Green, a remembrance of the first of many Western Springs residents who have paid the ultimate price in defense of their country.
Each week, the Western Springs Historical Society presents a “Blast from the Past”. To view prior stories, visit us at www.westernspringshistory.org.