Robert J. Alexander


For thirty-four years Robert J. Alexander has been connected with merchandising in Waukon, where during that time he has built up a large and profitable patronage as a dealer in clothing and men’s furnishings. He is one of the active and progressive business men of the city, where his long residence, her sterling qualities of character and his straightforward business dealings have made him widely known and honored. He was born in Linn county, near Mount Vernon, July 18, 1852, and is a son of Charles Alexander, a native of Nw York, who went south with his parents when he was still a child and settled in Mississippi, where he grew to maturity. As a young man he came to Iowa, locating in Linn county, where he married Miss Susan Smyth, a native of Ireland but reared in the United States. Her parents came to Iowa and settled in Linn county when she was sixteen years of age. Charles Alexander was subsequently one of the earliest settlers in Cedar county, where he opened up a new farm, which he improved and developed into a valuable agricultural property. He reared his family upon the homestead and there spent the remainder of his life.

Robert J. Alexander spent his childhood upon his father’s farm, aiding in the work of the fields and acquiring his education in the public schools. He supplemented this by three terms at Cornell College and upon laying aside his books taught for three winter terms, engaging in farming during the summer months.

In 1879 he came to Waukon, where he formed a partnership with Levi Armstrong under the firm name of Armstrong & Alexander. They put in a large and complete stock of clothing and men’s furnishings and opened for business in the same building now occupied by Mr. Alexander, where he has conducted a prosperous mercantile concern for thirty-four consecutive years. The association continued for twelve years and at the end of that time Mr. Alexander purchased his partner’s interest and since 1891 has conducted the business alone. He carries a complete line of clothing and men’s furnishings, his stock being varied and well selected, and he has gained a large and growing patronage, accorded him in recognition of the excellent quality of his goods, his upright and honorable business methods and his reasonable prices. Mr. Alexander is doing an annual business amounting to thirty thousand dollars and is one of Waukon’s most successful merchants and most progressive business men.

In 1882 Mr. Alexander was united in marriage to Miss Carrie L. Hayward, who was born in Wisconsin but who was reared in Waukon, in the home of her sister, Mrs. Alonzo M. May. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander have two daughters: Susan, who married B. H. Keller, a civil engineer in Kansas City, Missouri; and Ruth, who is a student in Cornell College. They lost two children, Emma and Hayward, both of whom died in childhood. The family residence is located on Wooster street, near the public school , and is modern and up-to-date in every particular, Mr. Alexander having recently remodeled it throughout.

Mr. Alexander attends the Methodist Episcopal church of Waukon and is a man of exemplary character. A resident of Iowa all during his life and of Waukon for over one-third of a century, he has thoroughly identified his interests with those of the community with the result that his  name stands for a synonym for progressiveness in business, for public-spirited citizenship and for all that is honorable and upright in every relation of life.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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