Franklin G. Alexander biography

FRANKLIN G. ALEXANDER. Probably the oldest living resident who was numbered among the first settlers of Haskell county is Franklin G. Alexander, the subject of this review, his life record being closely interwoven with the events that constitute the pioneer history of this portion of the state. He comes of Irish ancestry. His paternal grandfather, Horatio Gates Alexander, was a native of Ireland, born June 20, 1773, and when a young man he emigrated to the United States, where he was married on the 2nd of January, 1807, to a young lady that had recently come from Ireland and they afterward settled in Tennessee, probably in Williamson county. One of his sons, Hiram Alexander, the eldest of the family, remained in Tennessee, where he made his home up to the time of his death, while Horatio Alexander, the grandfather of our subject, and the other members of the family removed from Tennessee to Texas. Horatio Alexander settled at San Augustine, Texas, early in the ’40s. There he made his home for some time and afterward removed to New Orleans, where his death occurred. In his family were four sons and two daughters.

One of these sons, James Leander Alexander, was born in Tennessee, March 6, 1815, and was married in San Augustine, Texas, to Miss Minerva Love, a daughter of Judge John G. Love, a prominent man in the early history of the state. He was alcalde at San Augustine during the time Texas was a republican and he lived in large house built of logs and erected at a period when transportation facilities were so meager that it was almost impossible to get lumber into the new settlement. The Love family came from Missouri to Texas. Minerva Love was born in the former state and came to Texas with her father in her early girlhood. Mr. Love was actively interested in the early affairs of the state and the family history is interwoven with the annals of Texas in pioneer times. During the Mexican war the father was an active participant in the struggle and while he was at the front some of the ladies of the household rendered assistance to the men by molding bullets for their rifles, Minerva Love assisting in this work.

James L. Alexander removed from San Augustine and with his family settled near where Terrell now stands in what afterward became Kaufman county. This was in 1844. Among the early settlers of that section of the state were Judge W. D. Irvine, R. A. Terrell and James L. Alexander, who had married sisters and in this way became interested in and associated with each other. Mr. Alexander made his home near Terrell up to the time of his death, which occurred December 12, 1859. He had been married to Miss Minerva Love on the 19th of January 1850. These dates were recorded in an old family Bible that belonged to Horatio Gates Alexander and passed from his possession into that of his son, James Leander Alexander, is now in possession of his Franklin G. Alexander, being over a hundred years old. Minerva Love Alexander died in the spring of 1881. The father had followed the occupation of farming and stock raising, finding in Texas an ideal country for carrying on those pursuits. Unto him and his wife were born eight children, seven sons and a daughter, but only two lived to maturity and are still surviving, namely: James M. Alexander, who was born December 1, 1843, and is now a resident of Breckenridge, Stephens county, Texas; and Franklin G., of this review.

The latter was born in Kaufman county, December 24, 1854. Shortly after his father s death his mother was prostrated by a stroke of paralysis which caused her the loss of the use of her right side and impaired her mind to a considerable extent. There were four children who survived the father’s death, including James M. Alexander, before mentioned; Joseph L., who died February 21, 1865, at the age of seventeen years and four months; and John G. Alexander, who died September 22, 1869, at the age of twelve years and two months. The first named served throughout the Civil war in the Confederate army and after the close of hostilities he was married and settled in Kaufman county, whence he afterward removed to Stephens county. This left the care of the mother almost solely to Franklin G. Alexander, who remained with her and assumed the management of the home place, which, however, had been greatly devastated and reduced in its financial value by the ravages of war. He resided in Kaufman county until 1874, when he removed to Hunt county, spending his time upon a farm there until 1878. On the 26th of September of that year he was married, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary M. Henry, a daughter of A. H. Henry, one of the earliest settlers of Kaufman county living in the neighborhood of what is known as College Mound, seven miles southeast of Terrell. Mr. Alexander continued to reside in Hunt county and returned to Kaufman county, taking up his abode on a place that was given to Mrs. Alexander by her father. Mr. Alexander still had his little bunch of cattle which he brought with him from Hunt county. Soon after his return to Kaufman county he entered into a business arrangement with his father-in-law, whereby he was to fence about two thousand acres of land and gather up the remnant of his bunch of cattle. In doing this he made a trade with a man named Matthew Cartwright, of Terrell, Texas, who had a large stock interest in Kaufman county. He worked with him through the years 1882 and 1883 and made a contract with him to bring his (Cartwright’s) cattle to Haskell county in the spring of 1884 for the purpose of getting better range for the stock. Mr. Alexander disposed of his interests in Kaufman county with the exception of one hundred and forty-eight head of cattle which in connection with Mr. Cartwright’s cattle he shipped to Cisco, this being the first lot and the second lot to Baird, from which places they drove through to Haskell county, establishing his headquarters at a little town which had just been started and at that time contained but two families, while in the entire county there were only two other families. One of these was fifteen miles northeast and the other the same distance southeast of the town. Here Mr. Alexander proceeded to build a house, which became the home of his family. The country was entirely new, not a plow having been put into the ground, every condition being just as it was left by the hand of nature. Antelope and other game could be had in abundance and had not yet become fearful of the white man, being so tame as to be easily approached. At that time Haskell county was unorganized and for judicial purposes was attached to Throckmorton county. It was not long afterward, however, before the possibilities of this section became known and other settlers flocked in and took up the land, being termed in cowboy language as “nesters.” The county has ninety per cent of good land fit for cultivation. There is excellent water supply, fertile soil and a splendid climate. These attractions were noted by the outside world and it soon became necessary owing to the increase in population to take measures to have the county organized, which was done after a petition had been circulated and signed with a sufficient number of names. The organization was perfected by act of the legislature in January, 1885, with the county seat at Haskell. On account of the settlers arriving here in large numbers Mr. Alexander became convinced after a period of seven years that it would be impossible to use the country much longer as a cattle range. His family too had increased in size and desiring to establish a home for his wife and children Mr. Alexander severed his connection with Mr. Cartwright and after disposing of his own cattle and a tract of land that he had purchased he bought a stock of merchandise which had been opened at Haskell by Johnson Brothers and turned his attention to commercial pursuits. He formed a partnership under the firm style of F. G. Alexander & Company. Some changes have since occurred in the firm and in January, 1893, the business was incorporated under the name of Alexander Mercantile Company, with a capital stock of sixty-five thousand dollars, the present stockholders being F. G. Alexander, S. B. Street, Henry Alexander, W. L. Hills and C. L. Mays. In addition to the main house at Haskell they also have a branch house at Mundy in the adjoining county. This has become a leading mercantile enterprise of this section of the state and has been largely developed through the enterprising efforts, executive force and keen business discrimination of Mr. Alexander, who is a man of resourceful business ability and carries forward to successful completion whatever he undertakes.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Alexander have been born ten children, of whom nine are now living, six sons and three daughters, namely: Andrew Henry, Ethel, Raymond D., Wallace, Matthew, Fred, Frankie, Mary and Marvin. The eldest child, Maud, died December 23, 1891, at the age of fourteen years. Mr. Alexander has been a member of the Methodist church for nearly twenty-seven years and for eighteen years has affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, in which he had advanced through successive degrees until he has become a Knight Templar. He is a notable example of what is termed a self-made man. In his younger days he did not have the advantages for obtaining a school education but on the contrary was compelled to work hard in order to make a living for himself and for those dependent upon him. Having given a number of the best years in an entirely new country to earnest labor and to the development of the section in which he was located his education has been secured largely from practical observation and experience. He is thoroughly acquainted with the country, having traveled over a vast portion of it with cattle before the settler thought of possessing it. He has been an eye witness of its succeeding growth and development and has borne a helpful part in all that has been accomplished. The lessons of frugality and thrift which he learned during his younger days have served him well in after years and as a business man he has been successful, while the mercantile house of which he is the head has a large trade and is well and favorably known throughout this western country. There are many traits of character and good qualities possessed by Mr. Alexander beside those shadowed forth between the lines of this review and which have made him a citizen of worth and gained for him the warm friendship and favorable regard of those with whom he has been associated.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 553-555.