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This Alexander Family

© John H. Alexander Jr. (Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A) and others; all rights reserved


Contact me, JH “Alex” Alexander Jr.:

Sunday, 14 October 2001 : Last Updated

“This site in process…”


Mission Statement

The mission of this site is to document This Alexander Family, Kith and Kin of Southside Virginia during Anglo-British Colonial and previous periods, then through to the (almost) current. To fulfil the mission, this site will attempt to do four things:


1-                   Chronicle and Document Southside families, their places & times using both verified sources and oral family traditions

2-                   Serve as an electronic data repository

3-                   Act as a research and study aid

4-                   Help to put our predecessors into context with their times & places.


·         Chronicle and documentThis Alexander Family,” allied and/or proximate families & individuals

·         Establish a fact-based electronic repository for Alexander Family, Southside and other researchers

·         Act as a research aid for Alexander Family, Southside and other researchers

·         Put into context the lives and timesThis Alexander Family” member, allied and/or proximate families or individuals as well as Southside by providing well-researched, historical data


Site Organisation

This site is organised to make finding and using its information as functional and usable as possible. It is my initial effort and, thus, subject to all the mistakes to be expected of any neophyte. It started as a personal genealogical project and, hopefully, will become a place both professional and casual searchers can utilise to learn, share and study their own families and, most importantly in my opinion, in context with their respective places, times and neighbors. I think genealogy should be a resource for the living, not simply listing of dead folk…


The site will divided into three broad areas:

1)       Family: related to Alexander kith and kin

a)       Background

i)         Surnames in the British Isles

ii)       The Alexander Surname: origins and usage

iii)      Onomastics among the English, Scots, Welsh, Cornish and Irish

b)       This Alexander Family, allied and/or proximate


2)       Geography: containing locations, maps, surveys, plats, &c. of our ancestors’ places

i)         The Anglo-British Colonies

ii)       British Settlement in North America and the Caribbean

iii)      British Isles and Ireland


3)       Time: relating to dates, timelines, comparative timing of historical events



The site will also use collateral and supporting information from the following disciplines:

1)       Language & Nomenclature (an, hopefully, comprehensive, linked lists of words and phrases and how they were/are) used in:

a)       Genealogy

b)       Law

c)       Business or Commerce

d)       Medicine

e)       Archaic words, phrases & usage


2)       Economic

a)       Money/Currencies, Exchange Rates and Relative Valuation

b)       Historical Prices and Values

3)       Legal/Governmental


4)       Religious


5)       Demographic/Cultural/Social/Anthropological

a)       Immigrant Folk

b)       Indigenous Folk

c)       Relationships Between Folk



People to whom I am indebted (e.g. without whom none of this would be possible)…


My paternal grandmother, Mary Elma [Goza] Alexander (of Port Gibson, MS), prompted my initial interest in family history. Sometime in the Fall of 1986, she and I were sitting at her kitchen table doing one of her favorite things … drinking coffee and talking. In the middle of repeating some tale or story, she looked up and said something like “remember what I tell you about your family … because all of the ‘old people’ are dead and gone and no one else remembers.” She told me the names of and stories about my Alexander as well as her own Goza families. She‘d been brought up during the early part of the 20th Century. Reared on a somewhat remote farm in southern Mississippi, she remembered exactly what it was to see “Papa” up before dawn every day, going out to “ride the place,” check the fences and oversee the beginning of each day’s work. She remembered what home-life was like before and during World War I and was a young woman in the ‘big city’ (Memphis <grin>) in the boom of the 20’s, lived and reared a family during the Depression and World War II and observed, without necessarily understanding, the extensive changes to “Southern” (American) life of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.


My mother and her sisters and brothers, the Edwards’ (of West Tennessee) … Aunt Margaret & Uncle Connie, Aunt Beck & Uncle Howard, Uncle Bud, Mother, Uncle Jim & Aunt Leona, Uncle Johnny & Aunt Ruth and Uncle Tommy & Aunt Cherry … who, when gathered together at annual family reunions, relayed riotously funny, sometime poignant, stories of their childhood in the Tennessee of the late 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. [Thankfully, we still do this every summer]


So many of the people associated with “The Kudzu Families” site:


Chuck, Nancy, Sarah, Lea, Bill, Lyn and Owen



Précis of This Alexander Family


7th Generation from the Present

This Alexander Family is that descended from John and Martha Alexander, early settlers in the Southside, Virginia. They were communicants of Bristol Parish and they resided on the south bank of the Roanoke River in Prince George County, VA (that area which was later in Brunswick, Lunenburg & finally Mecklenburg County) from the mid-1720’s until the mid-1740’s. After John died circa 1738, Martha re-married in 1741 to Richard Pepper of Surry County. Martha had one son by Richard Pepper, Richard Jr., before her death in 1743. Although nothing yet is known about either John or Martha’s origins, he was not Presbyterian Scots or Ulster Irish, like so many if not most “Southern” Alexander’s, but rather an Anglican, thus was probably a transplanted, Anglicised Scot or an Englishman.



6th Generation

John & Martha’s (only known) child was Robert Alexander. Col. Robert became a local notable, expanded the family’s holdings into adjacent North Carolina and was a key member of the Southside minor gentry. Robert married Martha, last name unknown. They had five known children who survived into adulthood. He owned a good deal of land in both Mecklenburg Co., VA & Warren Co., NC, always increasing land to put more acres into tobacco. Robert died in 1784 having been Colonel of Militia and a J.P. of Mecklenburg County and left a large estate including more than 60 slaves. Martha re-married in 1792 to John Petaway (sic) of Warren Co., NC and died 9 ½ years later in 1803.



5th Generation

Primogeniture dictated that Robert & Martha’s oldest son, Robert Jr., was heir-at-law when Robert Sr. died. But a lawsuit, Col. Robert Jr. versus his mother, and all of his siblings, indicates that the transition did not go smoothly. It eventually was settled and the estate divided between the parties.


In November of 1802 2nd son, William, married Elizabeth Lane, daughter of Benjamin & Sylvia [Perry] Lane. The following Spring, the young couple moved to newly opened Hancock County, Georgia and inaugurated the Georgia Alexander’s. Maj. William participated in the War of 1812, and possibly also in the “Indian” Wars of the 1830’s, and became a somewhat prominent landowner and slaveholder. Only 20 years after coming to Putnam County, Maj. William was buying and selling land in Harris and Muscogee Counties. All but one of his surviving, adult children ended up in and around Columbus, Georgia. “Turnwold,” the family home in Putnam Co., later served as the setting in which Joel Chandler Harris “heard” and eventually wrote the Uncle Remus stories. Elizabeth [Lane] died in 1833 and Maj. William in 1853. Between Elizabeth Lane’s death and his own, he re-married in 1835 to Matilda [Cato] Battle, sold Turnwold in 1851 and moved in with his 2nd son, William Jr., in Oswichee, Alabama. He died in 1853.



4th Generation

William Jr., 2nd son of William & Elizabeth’s (above), married Ariadne Cantey Crowell. She was the daughter of Capt. Henry B. & Sarah C. [Cantey] Crowell. Ariadne’s extended family of Crowell’s, Cantey’s and Whitaker’s had come to central Georgia and later the Columbus area from the Carolina’s after the American Revolution. Col. William & Ariadne established themselves immediately across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, in Russell County, Alabama. Of their seven adult children, only one stayed in Russell Co., AL. The rest left the and made their lives elsewhere – including one in Atlanta, one in Brooklyn and the rest between Columbus and Marianna, Florida. This generation of children grew up during the American Civil War, too young to serve yet too old to not have been affected by the War, and came of age during the full force of Reconstruction. They were the first Alexander’s to engage in something other than agriculture and included a Dentist, a Railroad Conductor, a Georgia Superior Court Judge and a successful New York businessman.


Col. William served a term as Sheriff of Russell Co. after the War and, according to a scrapbook kept by his niece-by-marriage “Betty” Lane [Whitaker] Nisbet, was "…not very demonstrative, rather quiet and retired." William & Ariadne’s “baby” son and 7th of 8 children, Chambers, stayed on the home-place in Oswichee his and his siblings’ lives remained centred on Columbus/Oswichee, Atlanta and Marianna, FL.



3rd Generation

Chambers married Clara Rebecca Wynns, daughter of Colbert B. & Mary W. [Barnes] Wynns. The Wynns’ were rather prominent folk in Marianna and Jackson County, FL and descended from a successful Caribbean shipping family. Clara died in 1905 shortly after the birth if their 6th child, leaving Chambers to rear three daughters (all under the age of 5) and a 9-year-old son. The girls were all placed with relatives, as was the boy, William Chester; but little “Bill” continually “ran away” from his Grandmother Wynns’ place in Marianna. He would hide, camp and play in the swamps of the Okefenokee, disappear for days and scare the wits out of his very proper grandmother Wynns. Eventually Col. William relented and let the boy stay with him in Oswichee. To Chambers’ relief, his daughters married well, only one staying single and becoming a professional nurse.


Chambers was one of the first “scientific” farmers in Russell County, experimenting with various fertilizers, insecticides, rotation and a range of different crops. Yet cotton continued to provide the vast majority of his income. When the War in Europe started, he bought as much land as possible, over-extended himself and “put it all into cotton.” The end of the Great War brought plummeting prices and ruined Chambers. His son, William Chester (now called “Alec”), came home from the war, worked the farms with a vengeance for a couple of years, helped his “Papa” pay off the debts and promptly sold all of the land. That broke the Alexander direct “tie” to “the land” for the first time in centuries. Chambers spent the rest of his life “visiting” one child or another and died in 1949.



2nd Generation

A natural “mechanick” and “tinkerer,” young Bill was “loaned out” by his father to anyone in the area who had problems with their steam or gas-powered machinery and even had one of the first motorcycles in Alabama. He even ran the steam-powered cotton gin on his Chambers’ place from the age of about 12. Bill grew up, attended Auburn, worked as a design engineer and test driver in the emerging Detroit automobile industry and became known as “Alec”. When America entered World War I, he joined the Army. He served as a Wagon Master and motorcycle courier, participated in such campaigns as those of the Argonne, the Meuse, &c., survived intact and mustered out at Ft. Oglethorpe, GA in 1918.


Alec joined Lummus Cotton Gin Company as a sales engineer circa 1921, working for them until the late-1960’s. In 1927 he married Mary Elma of Port Gibson, Mississippi, daughter of Hiram W. & Sarah R. [Berry] Goza. They had two children, William Chester Jr. and John Howard.





Contact me, JH “Alex” Alexander Jr.:

Last Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2001

And to be continued…



© John H. Alexander Jr. (Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A) and others; all rights reserved

No permission to duplicate or reproduce the information contained within this site is hereby granted or implied without specific, written authorisation to do so.