Jackson County

Biography - Walter C. Alexander

WALTER C. ALEXANDER. The fine initiative and administrative powers of this well known citizen of Murphysboro, Jackson county, have been enlisted in connection with the organization and upbuilding of many important industrial enterprises, and through his active identification with the same he has gained precedence as one of the veritable captains of industry in southern Illinois, where he has won large and worthy success through his own ability and well directed efforts, the while his course has been so guided and governed as to retain to him the unqualified confidence and esteem of those with whom he has come in contact in the varied relations of life. As one of the representative business men and progressive citizens of southern Illinois he is eminently entitled to special recognition in this publication.

Walter Carlyle Alexander was born in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, on the 24th of May, 1865, and in both the paternal and maternal lines he is, a scion of the staunchest of Scottish stock, the admirable traits of which he has well exemplified in his private and business career. He is a son of James and Jessie Alexander, and in 1868, when he was a child of about three years, his parents came to America and established their residence in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whence they later removed to Shenandoah, that state. The father was an iron-worker by trade and finally came to the west with his family and located in the city of St. Louis, where he was in the employ of the Eagle Iron Works for two years. He was then appointed master mechanic in the shops of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at Galesburg, Illinois, but he retained this incumbency only a brief period. In 1870 he established his home at Murphysboro, the metropolis and judicial center of Jackson county, where he opened a general store, at the corner of Eleventh and Walnut streets. He retired from this line of enterprise in 1874 and became associated with his brother Walter in establishing the Alexander Brothers' foundry and machine shop. They built up a large and prosperous business and continued to be actively concerned with the same until 1896, when they retired, after nearly a quarter of a century of consecutive application to this line of enterprise, through association with which they gained secure place as substantial and representative business men of this section of the state. James Alexander died on the 4th of October, 1899, secure in the high regard of all who knew him, and his cherished and devoted wife was summoned to the life eternal on the 4th of January, 1908, both having been zealous and consistent members of the Presbyterian church. Of their children the subject of this review is the younger son, and concerning Mrs. Janet M. Morrison, a sister residing in Boston, Massachusetts, more specific mention will be made in another paragraph.

Walter C. Alexander was afforded the advantages of the public schools and completed his dicipline along this line in the schools of Murphysboro, which has been his home during the greater part of the time since his boyhood days. As a youth he entered the shop and foundry conducted by his father and uncle and there he learned the trade in its various details. Later he became telegraph operator for the Consolidated Coal Company, but after serving six months iu this capacity he assumed the position of chainman with an engineering corps engaged in railroad surveying. He continued to devote his attention to surveying and civil engineering work for a number of years and within five years had risen to the responsible position of transit-man. For three and one-half years he maintained his residence at Duquoin, Illinois, and followed the profession of civil and mining engineering in an independent way, and he then returned to Murphysboro to accept the position of manager and superintendent of the Murphysboro Water Works, Electric, Gas and Light Company, of which he also became a director. He retained this incumbency five years, at the expiration of which he resigned, in order to give his time to the supervision of the large and important enterprises with which he had become identified. He was the organizer of the Chicago & Herrin Coal Company, the properties of which are located at Herrin, Williamson county, and he is president of this corporation, as is he also of the Carterville-Herrin Coal Company. He organized and is president of the Chew Mercantile Company, one of the leading retail concerns of Herrin; and was the organizer of the Anchor Ice & Packing Company, of Murphysboro, of which likewise he is president. In 1910 he effected the organization and incorporation of the Murphysboro Construction Company, which controls a large business in the construction of reinforced concrete buildings, dealing in lumber, etc. Of this progressive corporation he is president, as is he also of the Republican Era Printing Company, publishers of the Era, a daily paper, at Murphysboro. Mr. Alexander is secretary and a director of each the Murphysboro Telephone Company and the Ohio and Mississippi Valley Telephone Company; is a director of the Murphysboro Electric Railway, Light, Heat & Power Company; a director and also secretary of the Murphysboro & Southern Illinois Electric Railway Company, controlling important interurban lines and franchises; is a director of the City National Bank of Herrin and of the St. Louis, Carterville & Herrin Coal Company; and was one of the organizers of the Murphysboro Commercial Association, of whose high civic ideals and effective work he has been a most zealous and influential exponent. Mr. Alexander exemplifies the most loyal and public-spirited citizenship and his endeavors along industrial and commercial lines have been potent in the furtherance of social and material progress and prosperity, the while he has ever stood ready to give his co-operation in support of those enterprises and measures which have tended to conserve the general welfare. His capacity for work is gigantic and he is most content when most busy. He does not, however, fail iii appreciation of the higher ideals and gracious amenities of social life and is genial, companionable and democratic in his bearing,-a man whose strength, vitality and sterling character promote loyal and enduring friendships.

In politics, though never an aspirant for office of political order, Mr. Alexander is found arrayed as a stalwart and effective advocate of the principles and policies for which the Republican party stands sponsor, and both he and his wife are most zealous members of the First Presbyterian church of Murphysboro, of which he is a trustee. He served several terms as a member of the Murphysboro Board of Education, and this is the only civic office of which he has consented to become the incumbent. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias, of which last mentioned order his father was one of the. organizers of the Murphysboro lodge.

On the 22d of November, 1905, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Alexander to Miss Martha M. Forbes, daughter of Charles and Sophia B. (Trowbridge) Forbes, of Oneida, New York, and they have one son, Forbes, who was born on the 4th of January, 1907. The family home is one of attractive order and is a center of hospitality, under the regime of its popular chatelaine, Mrs. Alexander, who is a representative factor in the social activities of the community.

Mrs. Janet M. (Alexander) Morrison, sister of Mr. Alexander, was born in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, where she was reared and educated and where she remained after the immigration of her father to America. There was solemnized her marriage to Edward Morrison, who was identified with hotel enterprises in his native land (Scotland) and who is now engaged in the manufacturing of office and school supplies in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Both Mr. and Mrs. Morrison are members of the Presbyterian church and they have a wide circle of friends in their home city. They have five children, concerning whom the following brief record is entered: Mary Rhoda is the wife of Rhoda Field and is one of the talented musicians of the Massachusetts metropolis; Christina and Katie remain at the parental home, as do also James and John, the latter of whom is employed in a leading banking institution in Boston.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 569-571.

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