Alexander Caldwell, one of the leading financiers and bankers of Kansas, was born at Drake's Ferry, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, March 1, 1830. The family was founded in America by Alexander Caldwell, a native of Ireland who emigrated from the old country early in the nineteenth century and settled in New Jersey, where he was accidently killed. His son, James, was born in County Donegal, Ireland, but after coming to America with his parents located in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. For years he there owned and operated a large charcoal furnace for the manufacture of iron, and became one of the prominent contractors of the state. He built the first railroad across the Alleghany mountains, from Hollidaysburg to Johnstown, and was also one of the contractors of the Pennsylvania canal. His wife was Jane Matilda Drake, born in Huntingdon county, daughter of James Drake, the owner of Drake's Ferry, across the Juniata river. Mrs. Caldwell died, in 1842. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. James Caldwell, of whom Alexander is the oldest. When the Mexican war broke out Mr. Caldwell, the father, at his own expense raised a militia company, of which he was chosen captain, and offered the same to the president. His company was assigned to the Second Pennsylvania volunteers, which served under Gen. Winfield Scott. During the attack on the city of Mexico, Sept. 13, 1847, Captain Caldwell was mortally wounded, and died within three or four days thereafter. Alexander, who had been given the advantage of a common school education, joined his father's company, in 1847, and went to Mexico; he was in the engagements at National Bridge, Contreras, Molino del Rey, Churubusco, the castle of Chapultepec, and other actions around the City of Mexico. At the close of the war he was offered a commission as second lieutenant in the regular army, but declined, as he preferred a business career. He worked in a store for some time and then engaged in the banking business in Columbia, Pa., and gained a thorough knowledge of that business. In 1861 he came to Kansas and located at Leavenworth, where he organized a company, under the firm name of A. CaIdwell and Company, United States transportation contractors. The firm made contracts with the government to transport supplies across the plains to the frontier posts and forts, in Utah, New Mexico, and all intermediate points. Such great quantities of freight were carried that 5,000 wagons, 50,000 head of oxen and from 5,000 to 10,000 men were employed by the company. All of the supplies for the army posts west of the Missouri river was transported by this company. Mr. Caldwell continued in this business until 1870, when the railroads were built and freighting by wagon declined. Mr. Caldwell was one of the pioneer railroad men of Kansas. In 1865 he and his associates decided that Leavenworth should have a railroad and he made a contract with the city and county of Leavenworth to build what they designated should be called the Missouri River railroad, extending from Leavenworth to Kansas City, there to connect with the Missouri Pacific, then just being completed to Kansas City, Mo. He entered into a contract with the city and county to furnish the money and complete the road, and stipulated that if the pending treaty for the sale of the lands of the Delaware diminished reserve should be approved by Congress that the treaty should be assigned to him as part consideration for the construction of the road. After an effort of two years the treaty was adopted by Congress. The railroad was completed, July 4, 1866,the first completed railroad in Kansas. And in accordance therewith a patent, in his name, of date Oct. 17, 1867, was issued to him by President Johnson, for 92,598 and 33-100 acres of land, lying in Leavenworth, Wyandotte, and Douglas counties, extending near to Wyandotte, now Kansas City, Kan., and almost to Lawrence, Kan. Later, another patent was issued to him, by President Grant, for the remainder of the tract, making the total more than 95,000 acres. For this land, as per terms of the treaty, he paid the Secretary of the Interior more than $300,000 cash. The treaty also provided that the Indians should remove to the Indian Territory and purchase from the Cherokees 100,000 acres of land, at $1 an acre. This deal, in the light of results, did all parties good: 1. Leavenworth secured a railroad. 2. The Indians were removed from the state and their lands were finally sold to actual settlers and are now highly improved. They received the same number of acres of good land in the Indian Territory, and $200,000 in cash. 3. The purchasers of the land got their money back. In 1869 Mr. Caldwell was president of the company that built the road from Leavenworth to Atchison and served in this capacity until the road was sold. He was the man who organized the Kansas Central Railroad Company, which built the road from Leavenworth to Miltonvale, Kan., and served as vice-president. This was a narrow gauge, but was changed to standard gauge later and eventually was sold to the Missouri Pacific, and resold by that company to the Union Pacific. In 1871 Mr. Caldwell was president of the company that built the bridge across the Missouri river at Fort Leavenworth. The same year he was elected United States senator as a Republican, to succeed Senator Ross. Two years later he resigned to devote his time to his growing business interests. It was through his influence, while in the senate, that bills were passed requiring that one term annually of the United States court should be held at Leavenworth, and an appropriation was secured establishing the United States military prison at Fort Leavenworth. Soon after retiring from the senate Mr. Caldwell organized the Kansas Manufacturing Company, which employed over 300 men and had an output of over 6,000 farm wagons per year. He was instrumental in organizing the Idaho and Oregon Land Improvement Company, of which he was president. Its purpose was to locate towns and build irrigation canals along the line of the Oregon Short Line. In March, 1897, he was elected president of the First National Bank of Leavenworth, one of the oldest and largest institutions in the country, chartered in 1863. Most efficiently has he filled this office, his wide experience and business ability having fitted him for its management. Mr. Caldwell is a member of the Aztec Association, which was organized in the City of Mexico, in 1847. He has spent the larger part of his life in Kansas and his success is the result of wise judgment, force of character, and tireless attention to the details of his extensive business interests. He is a progressive, always looking to the interests of his fellow citizens and the improvement of his city and state, in whose progress and growth he takes great pride. Soon after the close of the Mexican war, while he was living in Columbia, Pa., Mr. Caldwell married Pace Heise, whose family came to America in 1728. They have two childrenMrs. Minnie Robertson, the widow of J. D. Roberston, former president of the Interstate National Bank, of Kansas City; and Emily, the wife of H. C. Graef, of New York City, now residing in England.Pages 624-626 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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