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William Alexander

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William Alexander

Huntington Volunteer (View posts)
Posted: 19 May 2004 7:55PM GMT
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Alexander, Irwin, Freeman, Mendenhall, Steele, Depew, Gard

From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 511-513

One of the most widely known and successful grain dealers in the northern
part of the state of Indiana is William Alexander, manager for the
Studebaker Company of Warren, who was born in Brown county, Ohio,
February 15, 1835. The following year his father entered land in what is
now North Warren, some five years later making his home upon it; and
there the family has resided ever since. The boyhood of William was
similar to that of most boys in a new country, assisting his father in
the clearing of land and in the making of brick, at which he continued
until attaining his majority. Warren, in those days, boasted of an
advanced school or academy taught by the Morrow brothers, two ministers
who were men of exceptional education and attainments, and whose
influence for good has passed to the generation of to-day. In that
school William was prepared to teach, having an education superior to
most young men of the time. He taught in this neighborhood and in Wells
county for a period of eighteen terms, missing but two winter terms, and
those during the war. The summer seasons he continued to make brick and
tile on a part of the old homestead. While the teaching of those years
did not cover as much ground as does the teaching of today, the influence
of the old-time teachers and their ability to impart instruction and to
impress upon the youth the importance of thorough education is not
surpassed by the modern teacher, whose educational advantages have far
exceeded those of their predecessors. In the summer of 1863 Mr.
Alexander enlisted in Company A, Thirteenth Indiana Cavalry, his services
extending until May 22, 1865. At the organization of the company he was
mustered in as corporal, and later promoted to duty sergeant. His entire
service is a record of duty faithfully performed, many of the engagements
in which he participated being recognized as among the severest of the
war. At Blockhouse No. 7, at Stone River, out of two hundred and
thirty-eight men eighty-four were killed or wounded, and seventy-five
horses were killed. This charge by a detachment of six companies upon
General Forrest's cavalry, under a hot fire from his artillery, was one
of the memorable struggles in which the Thirteenth participated. With a
brief exception, when Sergeant Alexander was confined in hospital, the
entire period of his service was with his command, a review of the
history of the regiment being a recital of his own military experience.
Resuming work in the school room, he continued to teach until 1872, when
he became interested in the grain trade by assisting in the building of
an elevator for the firm of Good & Thompson. Several years later the
plant passed into the hands of John Studebaker, of Bluffton, whose
operations in the grain trade extended to various shipping points along
the line of railway, having built the second elevator at Warren in 1888.
Mr. Alexander was placed in charge as manager, the business having
assumed large proportions under his direction. Some years as much as one
hundred thousand bushels of wheat were shipped from this establishment
and an equal quantity of other grains and cereals. Large quantities of
hay were also purchased, baled and shipped, the entire business demanding
the employment of several competent men undr (sic) Mr. Alexander's
direction, all of whom unite in expressions of confidence in his
integrity and ability as a manager.

Mr. Alexander has been an active participant in all matters whose object
was the promotion of public enterprise. He was three years a member of
the city council, and served as president of that body at the time of the
laying of the first brick pavement. Many of the citizens at that time
took a decided stand in opposition to such improvements; and, however
much they now take pride in the excellent streets of the city, it was
then necessary for a few determined men to crowd new features against the
opposition of many of the leading men. A Republican from his earliest
years, the has taken an active part in the various campaigns of his
party, one of the earliest and most commendable actions from a political
standpoint, being that he assisted as a delegate in the convention which
first nominated General J. P. C. Shanks for congress. While he is
decided in his opinions, he is not of that aggressive character which
refuses to others an equal right of opinion, his own reading of matters
of public interest being so wide and liberal that he is able to extend
concessions to those who may honestly differ from him in political or
other views.

When Isaac DeLong established the Indianapolis Herald in 1848, William's
father became a subscriber and the first copy of the paper entered their
home; for more than fifty years Mr. Alexander has been a constant reader
of that influential sheet, it having come to him even while in the army.
Mr. Alexander is filled with reminiscences touching the earlier days of
Warren, one being that, while teaching a village school, he found it
necessary to thrash a class of sixteen boys and fifteen girls for
disobedience in playing upon the ice, as a complaint had been made that a
child was drowned the preceding year.

Mr. Alexander was married in 1858 to Miss Lersey Adaline Irwin, daughter
of Jonathan and sister of William N. Irwin. This lady died in 1892, when
Mr. Alexander married Mrs. Martha Freeman, nee Mendenhall, the widow of
Fernando Freeman. Her death occurred less than one year thereafter, and
in 1895 he was united to Mrs. Mary Steele, widow of A. J. Steele, whose
maiden name was Depew.

The Alexander family consists of four sons and one daughter living:
Emery E., formerly a teacher here and at Kokomo, where he is now engaged
in business; Rev. Delmar Alexander, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal
church, located at Warsaw, Indiana; Roscoe, foreman in chemical works at
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who has a reputation as a professional
musician, having traveled several seasons with Forepaugh's circus; Emma
Irene is the wife of John Wesley Gard, a grocer at Warren; and the
youngest, Charles E., is a musician at Indianapolis.

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