The first settlers in this area settled along the Shoe Hill Creek and Lumber River in the 1700’s. Incorporated in 1874 as Shoe Hill (from the Gaelic “S”, the shape of the nearby creek), Maxton also held the names of Tilden (after an 1876 Democratic candidate for US President) and Quhele (Gaelic for “arrow part of a stream”). The name was changed back to Shoe Hill in1881 and finally to Maxton in 1887. Maxton was chosen to honor the Scottish settlers to the area.
Education was important in the early years of Maxton in 1841, just outside of town, John Gilchrist Jr. founded Floral College, the first woman’s college in the state to confer degrees. Maxton was also the site of the first school opened by famous black educator, Charles N. Hunter (1818-1831). He went on to form the North Carolina Industrial Association to try to improve the lives of African Americans by emphasizing economic progress rather than political activity.