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Bernard Alexander

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Bernard Alexander

Huntington Volunteer (View posts)
Posted: 1085017846000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Alexander, Thornhill, Louderbach, Morris, Mitchell, Morrison, Pribble, Beard
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 526-530

Sixty years ago there came to this vicinity a family consisting of
father, mother and nine children, made their home in a little log cabin
of one room 18x20 feet in size, without floor, and on a tract of land
that is now included in the village of Warren, which the head of the
family had entered from the government some three years before, having
made the trip from Brown county, Ohio, for that purpose.

The man was John Alexander, who was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia,
being the son of Robert and Sarah Alexander, his father having come from
Ireland and embracing the mixed blood of the races of the north of that
island. Reaching this country some time previous to the Revolutionary
war, he took up arms in defence of the colonists and in opposition to the
hereditary enemy of his native land, the Irishmen of those days being no
less filled with that bitterness against England than are their
descendants of today. When his son was about twelve years of age he
removed from Virginia to Brown county, Ohio, where he lived for several
years, finally ending his days in Rush county, Indiana, being at this
time one of the last survivors of the struggle in which he had taken
part. John Alexander grew to maturity on the farm where his father had
settled, securing a wife, however, in the person of Rhoda Thornhill,
Clinton county, where she had been brought as a child from near
Clarksville, Tennessee, where she was born. The home was thenceforth in
Brown county, the birthplace of their son Bernard, whose name introduces
this article, born December 24, 1830. Besides the clearing of his land,
over which a part of north Warren has now extended, John Alexander
engaged in making brick, and is said to have made the first brick ever
produced in Salamonie township, there being quite a demand for them for
the building of chimneys. The first brick houses ever erected here were
made from brick of his manufacture; and we are told that some of the
earliest brick residences are still in use, one being the familiar double
brick standing on the main street nearly opposite the Cottage Hotel.
This man, whose abilities were not confined to the rolling of logs or
even to the making of brick, was useful in other lines as well. He was a
surveyor of no mean capacity, as is attested by the old instruments which
he used and which are preserved by his son Bernard, the old compass
bearing the date of 1819. In all new counties the duties of the surveyor
are second to no other, about all that had been done by the government
being to establish the township lines and the section corners. It then
devolved upon the local surveyor to subdivide the land, to lay off roads,
to lay out villages and to determine the location of ditches and drains.
This line of work became an important feature of his life, the old
records showing many interesting details of the work done, one item being
the fact of his laying out the Lagro and Portland state road in 1843.
While the original lots in Warren had been arranged for before he settled
here, he did survey the greater part of the town. While he was engaged
in this and other lines of work he was having his farm cleared by his
sons, of whom the eldest, Robert, was eighteen at the time of coming. He
resided on the farm all his life, his death coming in the year 1874, at
the age of seventy-four, having survived his life companion some four

Their nine children were born in Brown county, Ohio, and all reached
mature years, though but four, three sons and a daughter, are living in
1901. The only surviving daughter is Mariah, the widow of Daniel
Louderbach, who resides on part of the old home. Wiliam (sic) is the
manager of the Studebaker warehouse of Warren, and Hugh, the youngest
child, is a farmer of Jackson township, Wells county. Robert lived and
died in Wells county at the age of seventy-four; Nancy became the wife of
C. C. Morris, and old-time potter, who is remembered by the earlier
residents, her death coming at the age of sixty-seven; Sarah died at
twenty-two; James was a soldier in the Thirty-fourth Indiana, and died on
Brazos Island, Texas, when about thirty-three; John had gone out in the
same regiment, but died early in the war at New Haven, Kentucky, aged

He to whom we would more especially direct the reader's attention is
Bernard Alexander, than whom no man in the southern part of Huntington
county has more or warmer friends, the universal expression being that
here is a man whose friendship means something. Till he had reached his
eighteenth year he had assisted in the clearing of the farm from the
heavy growth of timber, and then began to learn the carpenter and
joiner's trade with 'Squire Christopher Brower. He continued to work at
this important trade until 1868, being associated with the late Hiram
Brown for some years during the time. Few Huntington county families
contributed more liberally of their blood and men to the cause of the
preservation of the Union during the darkest days the nation has ever
known than did this Alexander family, four of its sons exhibiting the
same spirit that moved their grandfather in former years. As we have
already noticed, two of them went into the Thirty-fourth, one dying soon
after the enlistment and the other experiencing many of the hardships of
a soldier's life, finally to succumb to the realities of war, his body
being left to rest near the shores of the southern sea, its restless
waters whispering a requiem of peace for the many northern boys who
slumber near its borders. William served all through the war in the
Thirteenth Cavalry. Bernard enlisted in 1863 and was assigned to Company
D, One Hundred Thirtieth Indiana Volunteers, and was sent to join
Sherman, which the command did before the start on the memorable Atlanta
campaign, taking part in the constant fighting from Resaca to the fall of
Atlanta. He saw hard work at Lookout Mountain; was in the midst of the
hottest at Kenesaw Mountain, as well as the terrible struggle at Peach
Tree Creek. He was given the place of duty sergeant, and was in every
action in which the company took part, and there were few which it
escaped. When Hood started on his campaign into Tennessee the One
Hundred Thirtieth was one of the regiments returned to Nashville to look
after him, which was done most effectually, his army being nearly
annihilated at Nashville, the remnant making its way into Alabama. The
chase was abandoned at Clifton. This regiment was then transferred to
Washington by way of Cincinnati and then forwarded to the coast to rejoin
Sherman on his northern march. After the fall of Forts Fisher and
Anderson, it was landed at Newbern and marched to Kinston, where it took
part in what was the last battle of the east, rejoining Sherman's army at
Goldsboro, North Carolina. The regiment was retained in that field the
summer after the surrender of Lee, the duties being mainly that of
holding the country and looking after such business as needed attention,
Charlotte and Lincoln being the points of principal interest. It was
mustered out at Indianapolis December 12, 1865, after serving two years
and eight days.

Just previous to his enlistment he had secured a farm some two miles east
of Warren, where his wife lived with her two children while he was
serving the nation, living in that uncertainty of the soldier's wife, who
knew not but that the next news would be of the loss of the one she held
so dear. His marriage had occurred March 23, 1856, the lady of his
choice being Miss Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell, the daughter of Fleming and
Melinda (Morrison) Mitchell, who was born in Preble county, Ohio, August
10, 1833, and brought an infant in arms to this county, her father
entering a tract of land one mile above Warren on the Salamonie river,
where the McCoy mill stands. It was he who built the first dam across
the river and set up a saw and grist mill, the latter only, however,
turning out corn meal, and that but one day in the week. The mill was
fitted with one of the primitive upright sash saws, everything about the
establishment being of the homemade order, the mill itself being but a
small log structure. After two years of effort he sold and returned to
Ohio, though two years later we learn of his returning, and, throwing
another dam across the river at Warren, erected a second mill which had
some features of improvement over the former, having a bolting cloth
arranged so that wheat could be converted into flour. Disposing of this
property about 1843, he went six miles further down the river and built
what was known as the Bayou Mill, which he operated for several years,
finally transferring it to his sons. He then farmed and sold goods at
Lancaster, his latter years being passed at the home of his daughter,
Mrs. Alexander, where he died at the age of seventy-eight. Four children
of the six born to him lived to maturity. Elijah serving in the
Thirteenth Cavalry and dying on the Little farm some years since; Elam P.
died at twenty-two; the youngest is Louisa, the wife of James Pribble, of
Warren. In 1885 Mr. Alexander removed from the farm to Warren, having as
the results of his farming, contracting and building, arrived at the
point where life could be taken with comparative comfort without the
necessity of his former constant and untiring industry. His farm has
been well improved by tiling and other means, and, lying in the oil
field, bids fair to bring in a return from that source at an early day.
Two children have been born to this estimable couple, the eldest being
Louisa, the wife of Isaac Beard, of Huntington; and Addie, who passed
away at the age of twenty-three. Although Mr. Alexander has never become
identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, he has taken deep
interest in the reunions, where old comrades have retold the tales of
war, and upon one occasion revisited the old battle ground at
Chattanooga, the specially interesting spots being again pointed out to
his companions.

Casting his first ballot for Gen. Scott, in 1852, he voted with the
Republican party from its inception, and with the single exception of
1864, when he was fighting, rather than voting, he has supported every
candidate of the party, the justness and right of the principles of the
party of to-day being as apparent as were those upon which it was
founded. He was selected by his townsmen as their trustee, in which
position he served faithfully for six years, winning the commendation of
all regardless of political relations, for the excellent condition of the
public affairs of the township though extra expenses were incurred during
the time by the erection of six of the nine school-houses. His well
known interest in education but illustrates the position he has
consistently held in regard to all public improvements, having more than
forty years ago donated fifty dollars to the making of the old plank
road, and that at a time when he was receiving but eight dollars per
month for his services. Besides assisting in raising township funds for
the railroad, he donated two hundred dollars cash in order to feel
greater assurance of its building. Every feature or movement for
securing better roads has found in him one of its strongest advocates, he
being referred to by one old friend as being the original "good-roads
man" of the vicinity. Both himself and agreeable companion are
consistent members of the Methodist church, of which he is a trustee,
their highest ambition being to so live that when the summons comes to
take a place in that innumerable throng that is passing to that bourne
from whence no traveler returns, they may receive the welcome
plaudit--"well done, good and faithful servants, receive thy reward."

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