ANDREW C. ALEXANDER. In these prosperous days of American agriculture it is more and more difficult to appreciate the staggering load which many of the early settlers carried in their efforts to establish homes and secure meager livelihoods from the barren and parched prairies of Western Kansas. One of the men who went through the mill in the early days of thirty or forty years ago, and is now enjoying the comforts of large landed possessions and one of the best homes at the Town of Protection is Andrew O. Alexander, who has been a Kansan since reaching his majority. For over thirty years he has been through the ups and downs and vicissitudes of a farmer and stockman in Comanche County.
Mr. Alexander was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, near Millsboro, October 9, 1853. His grandfather was an American Yankee and school teacher who married a Miss Conner. Their children were four, three daughters and one son. One of the daughters married Michael Barthlow, while the other two died unmarried.
Andrew A. Alexander, father of Andrew Clark Alexander, was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and though his father was a school teacher he came to his majority with a very meager literary equipment. In 1856 he went west and settled himself in Randolph County, Illinois, seven miles east of Sparta. He was in that locality when the war came on, and in 1861 enlisted in the Eighty-First Illinois Infantry. He was a brave and faithful soldier, most of his service being with Sherman's army. He was on some of the strenuous campaigns and in some of the decisive battles of the war. The physical injuries that came to him during his service were losing the end of one finger while helping a Government wagon out of the mud, and the bursting of an ear drum due to heavy cannonading while he lay in the ditches. He was a private in the ranks, and then and later was always content with the service of private both in army and civil life and rather shunned the excitement of politics. He seldom talked politics, and merely cast his vote as a democrat. He was an early member of the Grand Army Post and was a member of that order at Protection when he died.
In 1874 Andrew A. Alexander started west from Southern Illinois, he and his family traveling with wagon and team into Kansas. He preempted land in Sumner County, proved up his claim and improved a farm, and after selling that had a brief residence near Conway Springs until he moved to Comanche County. Here he bought land three miles south of Protection, his farm adjoining that of his son. Being somewhat burdened with years, he gave his time largely to herding cattle on the open range, and thus spent the rest of his years until his death in 1899. He was a member of the Baptist Church. He is remembered by his old associates as a man of lively and good natured disposition, and so far as known he always lived at peace with his neighbors and fellowmen. He married Mrs. Allie Murray, a daughter of Lewis Simkins, She was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and died in Comanche County, Kansas, in 1907. By her first husband she had the following children: Jane, who married W. W. Barber and died in Sumner County, Kansas; Mary, wife of C. W. Thornsberry, of Protection; and William L. Murray, of Monett, Missouri. The children of Andrew A. Alexander and wife were: Andrew Clark; Ellen, who married Henry Byer, of Alva, Oklahoma; Alice, widow of John R. Morton, of Morland, Oklahoma; and Emma, wife of I. A. Walton, of Wellington, Kansas, where she died.
As already noted Andrew C. Alexander lived in Southern Illinois from the time he was three years old until he was grown. He was reared on his father's farm and most of his education was acquired by practical experience rather than by attending school. On coming to Kansas he pre-empted land in Sumner County southwest of Wellington, proved it up and was a successful grain raiser and general farmer there from 1874 until 1886. In the latter year, a pioneer time in the history of Comanche County, he sought the cheap lands of this region, buying the southeast quarter of section 22, township 33, range 20. This tract he still owns and it has been the center of his trials and troubles as well as of his successful operations for over thirty years. He brought along with him to this county four horses, a cow, andd some two or three hundred dollars in cash. He and all his neighbors utterly failed to produce crops for several years, and most of his fellow homeseekers became discouraged and left the country. He, too, was at the very bottom of his resources, and owed more than his visible assets would have enabled him to pay. He finally lifted himself out of the slough of despond by staying with the country and digging. He had no legacy and no other aid to help him beyond the resources of his own character and energy. Realizing that stock raising was the salvation of all who remained in the country, he put cattle to graze on the open range and endeavored merely to raise feed for them. He leased lands from mortgage companies and fenced it, the rental costing about $20 a quarter per year. The discouragements were almost intolerable at times, but he could see greater ills in prospect if he left than if he stayed, and therefore he remained and in the course of time was on fortune's road. About the third year he bought another quarter section, paying a $100 down. Then ensued another period of discouragement and failure, and he tried to get the owner to take back the quarter and refund his payment, but did not succeed, and he therefore stuck to his bargain and finally acquired title. Since then the process of land buying has gone on until he now owns 1,160 acres.
For his pioneer home Mr. Alexander built a box house 10 by 14 feet, and that had to shelter him, his wife and child. The farm improvements on his ranch now include a substantial eight room house, wash house and milk house, and a large barn 44 by 58 feet. His home in Protection is one of the beauty spots of the town, and of itself indicates the thrift of its owner and is a substantial contribution to the development of that community.
The only official service Mr. Alexander has given was as clerk of School District No. 82 for seventeen years. He has done much to befriend and keep up schools and in national politics has cast his ballot regularly as a democrat. He retains the faith of his parents as a Baptist, while his wife is a Methodist. Mr. Alexander never joined a fraternity.
While living in Sumner County, Kansas, July 24, 1881, Mr. Alexander married Miss Mary Alice Clark, who was born February 18, 1863, daughter of James and Julia (Brown) Clark. Her father came from Montgomery County, Illinois, to Kansas, and subsequently brought his family to Comanche County, where he and his wife died. Their children were: Mrs. Alexander; Eliza, who married James Welch and lives in Jackson County, Michigan; Melvina, who died unmarried; Julia, wife of Thomas Zimmerer, of Spokane, Washington; John Clark, a resident of Montana; and Roxie, wife of William Kincaid of Kiowa, Kansas.
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander have three children, Alva C., Mrs. Pearl Nickell and Julia. The son, a farmer in Comanche County, married Jennie Livingston, and their three children are Thelma, Sibyl and Iona. Julia is the wife of Fred Foster, a Comanche County farmer and they have a daughter, Alice Madeline.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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