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Adolphus F. Alexander


REV. ADOLPHUS F. ALEXANDER is one of the best known and most popular clergymen of Washington county, an earnest Christian and thorough gentleman. His genealogy may be traced back through the centuries to an influential family of Scotland, of whom one John Alexander was a member.

This ancestor was a prominent citizen of Lanark, Scotland, and lived there during the year 1710. Among his children a son, John, born about 1700, was married to Margaret, daughter of Ronald Glasson, a resident of Glasgow, Scotland. Religious persecution was then raging, and many adherents of Presbyterianism fled to other countries. Among this number were John and Margaret Alexander, who sought a refuge in the County Armagh, Ireland, remaining there a few years. In 1736 the entire family, comprising the parents, three sons and two daughters, accompanied by Hugh and James Alexander (two nephews of Mr. Alexander), and Mrs. Polk (a niece), set sail for America. Their first landing place was either at Philadelphia, Penn., or at New Castle, Del.; their first settlement was made about thirty miles west of New Castle, Del, near the Maryland line, on the eastern side of Octorara creek, in Nottingham, Chester Co., Penn. The party resided in this locality a few years and then separated, the two nephews with Mrs. Polk moving to Mecklenburg county, N.C. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander, with their son John and two daughters, moved to a farm near Carlisle, Penn., which they afterward sold, locating near Chambersburgh, Penn., where the parents died about the time of the Revolution. Of these children born to this pioneer couple the following is a record:

Hugh, the eldest son was born about 1724, in County Armagh, Ireland, and in early life learned the wheelwright and carpenter trades, which he followed in Chester county, Penn. In 1752 he was united in marriage with Martha Edmiston, daughter of David and Margaret (Donnel) Edmiston. Mrs. Alexander was born about 1734. Her children were Margaret, John, Mary, David, and Hugh. The mother died, and in 1773 Mr. Alexander was married to Lettice, widow of James Thompson. Three children were born to this union: James, William and Emily (twins). The parents finally moved to a farm in Sherman Valley, Perry Co., Penn., where he died in March, 1777, and in 1797 the widow, with her two children, James and Emily, moved to McKeesport, Penn. The children were married, and the mother died in Butler county, Penn., at the home of a son who was born to her first marriage.

James Alexander, second son of John and Margaret (Glasson) Alexander, was born in 1726, in the County Armagh, Ireland, having been but ten years of age when the family came to America. He was married in Cumberland county, Penn., to Rosa, daughter of Robert Reed. James Alexander possessed an indomitable spirit of energy and enterprise. He longed for more "worlds to conquer," and resolved to explore Pennsylvania, which was, at that time, a pathless wilderness. Undaunted by the warnings of his less courageous neighbors, the young pioneer began his perilous journey. He first ascended the Susquehanna river, then along the Juniata, and following the course of the roaring waters of Kishacoquillas, soon found himself in the heart of a mighty wilderness, over one hundred miles from home, an easy prey to the prowling brute or lurking Indian foe. He and ascended the latter stream but a short distance, when a beautiful and fertile valley, hemmed in by mountains and covered with heavy timber, greeted his delighted eyes. Here he determined to found a new settlement, and in 1755 took out the patent for 1,000 acres of mellow, limestone soil, in the beautiful but lonely wilderness. On returning to Carlisle, Penn., he pictured in glowing colors of the beauties and advantages of the country, but his enthusiasm failed to infuse the necessary courage for so hazardous an enterprise. One friend, however, proved himself a kindred spirit, so accompanied by their families and chattels, William Brown and James Alexander took possession of the fertile valley. Mr. Brown located near the entrance, and James settled five miles west, his nearest neighbor having been Logan, the famous chief of the Mingo tribe. With stout arms and hearts the heroic pioneers fell to their herculean task of clearing away the forest, which was only accomplished after many years of toil. Although deprived of church and educational privileges, the truest of heart-worship was found in these lowly homes, for as Bryant has truly said, "The groves were God's first temples; ere man learned to hew the shaft and lay the architrave, here he worshiped," and more sincere worship never rose to the Creator, than ascended from the humble altars of the pioneers. The cabin of James Alexander was indeed a very Bethel -- morning and night the word of God was read, and the sacred notes of song and prayer rose to the pure sky above. The Sabbath was a time of rest, and prayerful study of the Bible, the catechism and confession of faith, and every evening a veritable "Cotter's Saturday Night." In this wild country a little church was finally erected, with which James Alexander was prominently identified. The whole valley was at one time known as Armagh township, in honor of his birthplace. Soon after Mr. and Mrs. Alexander had settled in the valley, the Mingo chief, Logan, visited their cottage during the absence of the husband, and having won the confidence of a little son, carried him away to his own cabin, the terrified mother not daring to resist. Several hours passed, and the almost frantic woman decided to follow and attempt to rescue her child, when to her unutterable relief she met the friendly chief returning the little fellow in his arms, his tiny feet shod with beautiful beaded moccasins made by the distinguished warrior. During the winter of 1777-78 James Alexander served in the commissary department of the Colonial Army at Valley Forge, receiving for that service 1,600 acres of land, in Clearfield county, Penn. He died in 1791, and was buried at the brick Presbyterian church at West Kishacoquillas. The following children were born to this family: Jane, born in 1763; Robert, born in 1766; Rachel, born in 1780; William B., born in 1782; Rosanna, born in 1784; and Reed, born in 1786, also others who were deceased in youth.

John Alexander, youngest son of John and Margaret (Glasson) Alexander, resided on the old estate in Chambersburgh, Penn., which he inherited from his father. He was a prominent military man, and served as an officer in the first company formed in Franklin county, Penn., November, 1776. Rachel Alexander, eldest daughter of John and Margaret (Glasson) Alexander, was born in County Armagh, Ireland, and came to America with her parents. In 1763 she was united in marriage with Joseph Vance, a resident of Martinsburg, Berkeley Co., W. Va. The young people first located in the Kishacoquillas Valley, afterward moving to a place near Honeywood Mills, Berkeley Co., W. Va., where they died, leaving six children, namely: Samuel, Alexander, Rachel, John, Joseph and Jane. Margaret Alexander, youngest child of John and Margaret (Glasson) Alexander, lived to and adult age, but was never married.

Robert Alexander, the eldest son of James and Rosa (Reed) Alexander, was born in October, 1766, and grew to manhood on the home farm. After the death of his father he located near Stone Mountain, in the Kishacoquillas Valley. On April 8, 1790, he married Elizabeth McClure. Her mother was a Miss Scott, a native of Scotland, her father was born in Ireland, and, afterward immigrating to America, settled in East Kishacoquillas, Penn., where Elizabeth was born March 8, 1768. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander began life on the home farm. He was a man of incorruptible integrity, possessing a sound judgment and remarkable power of memorizing, having been able to repeat a sermon verbatim after once listening to it. His disposition was so averse to disputes, that during the forty-five years of service as a justice of the peace, he tried but two cases, settling those without costs. In 1823 he was elected to the Legislature by the largest Democratic majority ever given in his district, but no persuasion could induce him to accept the nomination for reelection. He was an earnest and zealous member of the Presbyterian Church, and died in August, 1843, having been preceded by his wife in 1832. She had borne him children as follows: Elizabeth, born July 7, 1791; James, born January 17, 1793; Mary, born July 13, 1795; Robert Mc., born November 1, 1797; Nancy, born June 29, 1800; Robert R., born November 2, 1802; William, born March 3, 1805; Cyrus and Silas (twins), born September 30, 1807; and Celia, born March 8, 1810.

Cyrus Alexander was born in Union township, Mifflin Co., Penn. On February 6, 1835, he selected as a life companion in the person of Mary Brown, who was born February 4, 1814, in Armagh township, Mifflin Co., Penn. The children of this marriage were Robert Mc., born August 2, 1836, deceased November 8, of the same year; James B., living in Indiana, born November 7, 1837; Robert B., born March 9, 1840, deceased May 6, 1882; Cyrus R., born August 20, 1842, deceased April 7, 1847; Ira, born July 30, 1849, deceased February 10, 1850; Sidney, born February 17, 1851, deceased March 27, 1851; and Lot, a practicing physician of Pendleton, Ind., born August 28, 1853. Cyrus and Mary (Brown) Alexander began married life on the old homestead, but afterward purchased a farm nearby, where their lives were passed. Politically, he was a Whig and a Republican, but preferred the quiet duties of private life to the turmoil of politics. He and his wife were active workers in and zealous members of the Presbyterian Church. He died January 6, 1884, followed by his wife January 10, 1892. Both parents are buried in the Milroy cemetery.

Adolphus F. Alexander, the subject of this sketch, was born November 7, 1844, in Kishacoquillas Valley, Mifflin Co., Penn. He attended the common schools of the district, also spending a short time at the Kishacoquillas seminary. On August 21, 1861, he enlisted at Lewistown, Penn., in Company C, Forty-fifth Regiment, P.V.I., serving three years and ten months. He took part in the engagements at Cold Harbor, South Mountain, Antietam, and siege of Knoxville, having been all through the campaign around Petersburgh, Va., and in numerous minor engagements. He returned at the close of the war, having escaped injury save a slight wound received at Cold Spring, Tenn. After the war Mr. Alexander resumed his literary studies at Milroy, Penn., soon afterward entering Washington and Jefferson College. He then began the study under Orvis & Alexander, of Bellefonte, Penn., and in 1870 was admitted to the bar at Lewistown, Penn. He then practiced a short time at Pittsburgh, and in 1875 entered the Western Theological Seminary of Allegheny, graduating in 1879. After graduation he accepted a call to the Church at Preemption, Mercer Co., Ill., where he remained until 1883, and then took charge of the Cross Roads Presbyterian Church at Florence, Penn., which has since been his field of labor. On March 11, 1886, he was united in marriage with Flora Anderson, niece of G.W. and Mary Conn, who bore him two children: Mary and Cyrus C. Mrs. Alexander died October 10, 1890, leaving the sacred memory of a beloved wife and mother, and a Christian woman. Rev. Alexander is an earnest worker in the harvest field of his Master, and his friends are numbered among every denomination.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, PA, page 30


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