Biography - James Alexander

JAMES ALEXANDER, one of Murphysboro's well known and prominent citizens, is also numbered among her leading business men. He is a member of the firm of Alexander Brothers, proprietors of a foundry and machine shop, and is also President of the Jackson County Homestead and Loan Association, and President of the Southern Illinois Building and Loan Association. He was born seven miles from Glasgow, Scotland, in Lanarkshire, in January, 1837. His father, John Alexander, was born in the eastern part of that country, and for many years was forester to Lord Douglas. He receives a large pension, and is now living retired at his home, Alexander Cottage, at Uddington, within a mile of the battlefield of Boswell Bridge. He has reached the advanced age of ninety-eight. He was formerly a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church. His wife was Margaret Carlisle. She died in 1860, leaving six children, all of whom survive except one. Two are yet living in this country.
James Alexander, who is the youngest of the family, attended school in his native land until fourteen years of age, and then spent four years in a merchant's office in order to gain a practical knowledge of commercial business. He then learned the trade of a machinist, becoming an expert workman. The year 1865 witnessed his emigration to New York, whence he made his way to St. Louis, Mo., where he worked in the Eagle Foundry until 1867. He then secured employment in the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad shops at Galesburg, Ill., where he continued until 1871, when he came to Murphysboro, then a small town. Here he engaged in the dry-goods and grocery business for about three years, when it seemed a favorable opportunity to establish a foundry. It was in 1873, the year of the panic, when, in connection with his brother, he began business. Their trade has steadily increased, and in proportion they have enlarged their facilities. They now have a machine shop 35x80 feet, a blacksmith shop 30x50 feet, a brick foundry 40x60 feet, and a pattern shop and storeroom 25x30 feet. Their buildings occupy an acre of ground on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and employment is furnished to twenty-five men. They manufacture general mining machinery, stationary engines, mining cages and cars, pumps, wheels and axles, and are the patentees and sole manufacturers of the Murray Automatic Hoisting Cage. They are now doing a large business, and receive orders from all over the country.
The lady who bears the name of Mrs. Alexander was in her maidenhood Jessie Glen. They were married in Scotland in 1859, and to them were born five children, four of whom are yet living. John, who was educated in Murphysboro and St. Louis, is cashier for the firm of Kingman & Co., of the latter city; Walter is assistant chief engineer with the Consolidated Coal Company of St. Louis; Mary and Kate are at home; Maggie is deceased.
Other business interests have occupied the attention of our subject. He was one of the organizers of, and is a stockholder in, the City National Bank. He aided in organizing the Jackson County Building and Loan Association, and has been its only President, and has been the President of the Southern Illinois Building and Loan Association since its formation. He takes considerable interest in civic societies, belonging to the Masonic and Knights of Pythias fraternities; the Ancient Order of United Workmen, of winch he is Deputy Grand Master; the Knights of Honor and the Ladies of Honor. He is also a member of the Grand Lodges of all these organizations save the Masonic. He always exercises his right of franchise in support of the Republican party, and is a stalwart advocate of its principles. In social and business circles he is alike honored and esteemed, for an upright and straightforward life has won him high regard. In his business career he has won a well merited success, and is now at the head of one of the leading industries of this county.

Extracted 22 Feb 2017 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 550-551.

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