ALEXANDER, Samuel J. -- Among the positive and vigorous characters that have made their impress on the business and social life of Bushnell, Ill., and upon the agricultural conditions of McDonough County, not the least in point of example and influence is Samuel J. Alexander. In his composition are notably manifest those qualities of rugged manhood, strict probity, tenacious persistence and intelligent discrimination, which constitute a potent force in advancing the development of any community which is fortunate in being the sphere of their activity. Mr. Alexander was born in Wayne County, Ind., July 10, 1821, a son of James and Permelia (Adams) Alexander, grew up to manhood on the paternal farm, and in early youth received a good common-school education. When twenty-three years old he went to Ohio, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits in the village of New Westville. After remaining there one year, he returned to Indiana, and there followed the same business in Boston, Wayne County. Two years later he was engaged in a similar enterprise in Darke County, Ohio, in which he continued until his removal to the vicinity of Bardolph, McDonough County, Ill., where he devoted his attention to farming on rented land. After being thus engaged for one year, he bought a farm in Macomb Township, which he cultivated until 1868, when he took up his residence in Bushnell and there established a grocery. In 1869 he entered into partnership with E. D. C. Haines in the lumber trade, building up a large and profitable business. He sold his interest in this concern to his partner in 1880 and withdrew from active business, and has since spent his time looking after his property interests and negotiating loans of his surplus funds.
Mr. Alexander did his full share in the pioneer work of the early days in McDonough County, clearing and breaking up the wild land, and with his worthy spouse, enduring the discomforts, privations and hazards incident to that period. His resolute, persevering, resourceful and discerning qualities as well as his indomitable energy, gradually led to merited prosperity. He is a man of attractive appearance and genial deportment, simple in manner and speech, never assuming an aggressive attitude, but winning the good will, respect and confidence of every one with whom he has business or social relations. He has always been inspired by a high public spirit, and has advocated, and supported with substantial contributions, all measures designed for the general welfare, generously aiding many worthy and beneficent institutions, especially churches, schools and charitable institutions. In politics he is a firm Republican, but is always discriminating and conscientious in scrutinizing the merits of civic policies and of candidates for political preferment. In fraternal circles he is identified with the Masonic Order. His busy, useful and exemplary career is a strong incentive to all who are entering upon the threshold of active life. At the age of nearly fourscore and ten years, he is still clear in mind and sound in body.
The marriage of Mr. Alexander occurred in New Westville, Preble County, Ohio, August 24, 1845, when he wedded Hannah Cowgill, who was born in Fremont, Ohio, August 7, 1828. Thrice fortunate was Mr. Alexander in selecting a life-companion to share is domestic joys and sorrows, and to supplement his arduous exertions in acquiring a competency of this world's goods and developing the character which had dignified his later career. Together with her husband, her parents and only brother, Mrs. Alexander made her home in McDonough County, Ill., where, in Bushnell and in its vicinity, all of their married life was passed, with the exception of four years' residence in Richmond, Ind., during the period intervening between 1886 and 1890. Her union with Mr. Alexander resulted in five sons, all of whom were overtaken by death when quite young. Mrs. Alexander was in most respects a remarkable woman, and one who with the favoring aid of more thorough educational facilities in early youth, and with less of unobtrusiveness and attachment for the quietude and matronly duties of the home circle, would naturally have been a conspicuous figure in that line of unselfish public endeavor, graced by many of her sex, who thereby attained wide and enduring reputation. She possessed exceptional strength of character, and was animated by deep convictions in matters of right and wrong, which no considerations or surroundings could induce her to disregard or suppress. In the conduct of household work, she was a model of order, tidiness and thrift. Her downright honesty in forming, maintaining and expressing opinions on radically important subjects was recognized with sincere respect throughout a wide circle of acquaintances, and the fidelity with which she fulfilled the obligations of friendship won her the respect of all who knew her. To her, evasion, prevarication, disingenuousness and every form of hypocrisy, were an abomination and utterly repulsive. The final sickness of Mrs. Alexander was protracted and painful, but through all the agony of slowly approaching dissolution, she manifested an unswerving faith in her Savior, awaiting her in the heavenly mansions prepared for the people of God. She was a zealous, devout and active member of the Presbyterian Church, and her self-denying exertions in church work are gratefully remembered as a shining example by the surviving membership. After lingering upon the bed of sickness nearly two years, in a condition of suffering beyond any (except temporary) relief from medical skill, and unmitigated by even a faint hope of recovery, Mrs. Alexander passed peacefully away on December 1, 1902, and the memory of her life of self-sacrifice and benevolence will long be cherished by those who knew her in the intimacies of daily companionship.
Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907. Submitted by Joanne Scobee Morgan [email protected]