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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
William McFaddin Alexander


Alexander, William McFaddin, D.D.; LL.D. -- New Orleans.--Was born at the old family homestead, near Union, Monroe county, Va., (now West Virginia), Nov. 7, 1861; son of Michael Caperton Alexander, whose birthplace was the same as that of the son. The father was the son of a Virginia planter, but on account of threatened failing health, removed to Beaumont, Tex., previous to the Civil war, and there, with his brother and brother-in-law, organized the firm of "Ross & Alexander," a lumber and mercantile firm which built the first saw-mill at Beaumont. Mr. Alexander was thus one of the pioneer lumbermen and merchants of the Southwest.

Mr. Alexander's health was restored, his business prospered, and on Dec. 13, 1860, he was married in Beaumont to Miss Sarah L. McFaddin, a daughter of William McFaddin, a large ranch owner of Texas, and who served under Gen. Sam Houston in the army that achieved independence for Texas. He took part in the battle of San Jacinto, and was present at the capture of Santa Anna. William McFaddin's sons are numbered among the wealthy citizens of Texas, and are prominently identified with the affairs of the Lone Star state.

Mr. Alexander in the summer of 1861, with his bride of a few months, returned to his old Virginia home on a visit. While there the war-cloud burst and, leaving his wife under his father's roof, he enlisted in the Confederate army under Col. Barbee. After a time, he was paroled on account of illness. However, he remained in Virginia during the war and for four years after the war, when he returned to Texas and became a planter; later he became associated with a lumber company and continued this connection until his retirement from business activities. He died at Beaumont, Feb. 10, 1912, aged 75 years. He accumulated a comfortable fortune. He is survived by his widow, one son, Rev. William McFaddin Alexander of New Orleans, and one daughter, Miss Sibbie V. The widow and daughter reside at Beaumont. A son and daughter are deceased.

Mr. Alexander was a Presbyterian elder, and came from a long line of Presbyterians originally from Scotland. His family is the Virginia branch of Alexanders, who have for generations been prominent in church, state and nation. As is well-known, the Virginia Alexanders trace their descent in direct line back to the Earls of Stirling in Scotland. Stirling is one of the most historic spots in Scotland--the former seat of kings and the ''key to the Highlands." The castle, the former seat of the Alexanders, is still standing and is one of the best preserved castles of the United Kingdom and one of the show places of Europe. It now belongs to the crown by confiscation. Sir William Alexander, poet and man of affairs, was the last Earl of Stirling. The paternal grandfather of Rev. W. McF. Alexander was John Ervin Alexander, great-grandfather Capt. Michael Alexander, and great-great-grandfather James Alexander; all of whom were natives of Virginia.

Previous to the Revolutionary war, James Alexander went from Augusta--now Rockbridge--county, Va., to Union, Monroe county, though at that time there was no such place as Union, the whole region then being a wilderness inhabited only by Indians. He selected the present sight of Union, cleared and planted a field, built a house and returned to the old home to be married. On his return with his bride, he found the house burned down and the field laid waste. The Indians had made a raid. Nothing daunted, the house was rebuilt and the field replanted, and from this lonely dwelling in the heart of the wilderness grew the ancestral home of the subject of this sketch.

William McFaddin Alexander was educated in the private and public schools of Beaumont, in a private academy at Woodville, Tex., following which he returned to Virginia for his college course in Washington and Lee university. Then he entered Union Theological seminary, at Hampden Sidney, Va., completing the course in 1887. He then became pastor of the Presbyterian church at Bainbridge, Ga., remaining there three years; after which he became pastor of the Alabama Street Presbyterian church in Memphis, Tenn., where he remained 8 years.

In the summer of 1899, he came to New Orleans as pastor of the Prytania Street Presbyterian church, which he continues to occupy at this time. The degree of D.D. was conferred on him by two universities the same week, the Southwestern Presbyterian university and Washington and Lee university, the latter his Alma Mater. In 1911, the degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by the University of Georgia, a university that throughout its history has been rather chary in conferring honorary degrees. Dr. Alexander has been prominently identified with the progress of the Presbyterian church in the South.

On June 24, 1891, Dr. Alexander was married to Miss Ceneilla Bower of Georgia, a daughter of Judge Isaac E. Bower, who for years was judge of the Superior court of the southwestern district of Georgia, and who was finally succeeded by his son Judge Byron B. Bower. The Bower family has been prominent in Georgia since a time prior to the Revolutionary war, in which several representatives of the family participated, as did the great-grandfather of Mrs. Alexander. Dr. and Mrs. Alexander have one child, a daughter, Miriam Caperton.

Source: Louisiana: Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form (volume 3), pp. 26-27. Edited by Alcée Fortier, Lit.D. Published in 1914, by Century Historical Association.


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