Origin of the
Alexander Families of Mecklenburg County
The name, Alexander, is of frequent mention among
the nobility of Scotland. About the year 1735 John Alexander married
Margaret Gleason, a "bonnie lassie" of Glasgow, and shortly
afterward emigrated to the town of Armagh, in Ireland. About 1740,
wishing to improve more rapidly his worldly condition, he emigrated
with his rising family, two nephews, James and Hugh Alexander, and
their sister, who was married to a Mr Polk, to America, and settled
in Nottingham, Chester county, Pa. These two nephews, and their
brother-in-law, Polk, soon afterward emigrated to Mecklenburg
county, North Carolina, then holding forth flattering inducements
for settlement. These families, of Scotch-Irish descent, there
prospered in their several callings, and early imbibed those
principles of civil and religious liberty which stamped their
impress on themselves and their descendants, and shone forth
conspicuously preceding and during the American Revolution.
About the time of this emigration of the Alexander's to North
Carolina, John Alexander moved to Carlisle, Cumberland county, Pa.
While he resided there his son James (James the first) married "Rosa
Reed," of that place. Soon after his marriage he left Carlisle, and
settled on "Spring Run," having purchased a tract of land which
covered "Logan's Springs," where the celebrated Mingo chief, Logan,
then lived. After Logan's death he moved to the Springs, which
valuable property is still owned by the Alexander heirs.
John Alexander, partaking of the roving spirit of the age, left
Carlisle, and finally settled in Berkeley county, Va., where he
purchased a large farm, and spent the remainder of his days. His son
James had twelve children, seven sons and five daughters. One of his
daughters, Rachel, married Joseph Vance, of Virginia, the ancestor
of ex-Governor Vance, of Ohio, and other descendants. He gave Vance
a farm of three hundred acres as an inducement to settle near him.
Vance accepted the gift, and soon afterward removed to the farm; but
Indian troubles breaking out at that time, he sold his possession
and returned to Virginia, selecting a location near Martinsburg.
James Alexander (James the second) had four sons and six daughters.
The eldest son (James the third) married his cousin Celia, youngest
daughter of Robert Alexander, of whom was a descendant, Robert
Alexander (perhaps a son), a captain in the Revolution, who married
Mary Jack, third daughter of Patrick Jack, of Charlotte, and settled
in Lincoln county, where he died in 1813.
James Porterfield Alexander (James the fourth), and son of James the
third, married Annie Augusta Halsey, grand-daughter of the Hon.
Jeremiah Morton, and resides, in this centennial year, on the St.
Cloud plantation, Rapidan Station, Culpeper county, Va.
Hugh Alexander, son of James the first, married Martha Edmundson,
settled in Sherman's Valley, Pa., and had a large family. He died at
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, while sitting as a member to form a
Another prolific source of the Alexander's in America is traceable
to the descendants of seven brothers, who fled from Scotland, on
account of political troubles, to the north of Ireland, and passing
through the Emerald Isle, sailed for America, and landed in New York
in 1716. One of their descendants was William Alexander, born in New
York in 1720, a son of James Alexander, of Scotland. He became a
distinguished officer in the Revolutionary war, known as "Lord
Stirling." He married a daughter of Philip Livingston (the second
lord of the manor), a sister of Governor Livingston, of New Jersey.
From these prolific sources (Scotch and Scotch-Irish) North
Carolina, and other States of the American Union, have received
their original supplies of Alexanders, embracing, in their
expansion, many distinguished names.
In the list of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of the
20th of May, 1775, six bear the name of Alexander, and a "host" of
others, officers and privates, honored the name in their heroic
achievements during the Revolutionary war. Two of the distinguished
teachers in Rowan county, preceding the Revolution, were James
Alexander and Robert Brevard.
It is also worthy of mention that one of the "twenty-six" persons
who met in Charleston, in the fall of 1766, after the repeal of the
Stamp Act, under the leadership of that early patriot, General
Christopher Gadsden, rejoiced under the duplicated name of
"Alexander Alexander". He had strayed off from the paternal roof in
North Carolina, and was employed there in the honorable calling of
schoolmaster. Johnson, in his "Traditions and Reminiscences," thus
speaks favorably of his eminent worth:
"Alexander Alexander was a school-master of high character and
popularity. He was a native of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, and
educated in the Whig principles of that distinguished district."