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Charles W. Alexander (1861-1937)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 11/27/2022 at 14:29:38

Charles W. Alexander
(August 16, 1861 May 7, 1937)

If those who claim that fortune has favored certain individuals above others will but investigate the cause of success and failure, it will be found that the former is largely due to the improvement of opportunity, the latter to the neglect of it. Fortunate environments encompass nearly every man at some stage in his career, but the strong man and the successful man is he who realizes the proper moment has come, that the present and not the future holds his opportunity. The man who makes use of the now and not the To Be is the one who passes on the highway of life others who started out ahead of him, and reaches the goal of prosperity far in advance of them. It is this quality in Charles W. Alexander that has made him a leader in the business world and won him an enviable name in connection with Calhoun County that is widely known. He was born in Watertown, Wisconsin, August 16, 1861, his parents being Arthur and Sarah Ann (Hayhurst) Alexander, both of whom were natives of England. On crossing the Atlantic to the new world, the father took up his abode in Wisconsin and was married in that state. He is a mechanic and followed that line of business at a time when most work was done by hand and not by machinery. In the year 1865 he removed to Maquoketa, Iowa, and took charge of the barrel factory at that place, continuing there for two years. On the expiration of that period he removed to Portland, Wisconsin, where he established a wagon shop and carriage factory, conducting the same successfully until the winter of 1869-70. In the fall of 1869 he drove to Sac County, Iowa, and in the spring of 1870 he took up a homestead claim four miles northeast of Newell, in Buena Vista County, Iowa. The family remained upon this farm until 1876, and in the meantime he had perfected his title. The father, however, did not devote his entire attention to agricultural pursuits, being associated with George Emory in a contracting business in Sac City. In the winter of 1876-77 he returned to Wisconsin and entered the employ of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company in its car shops at Watertown, serving in that capacity until the fall of 1879, when he became a resident of Mason City, Iowa. There he became a representative of the Milwaukee car shops and also did a contracting business, making his home in Mason City until his death, which occurred in July, 1886. His widow still survives him and is now living in Dakota. In their family were eight children, of whom our subject is the eldest, the others being: T. A., an attorney of Jackson, Minnesota; Annie Ruth, the wife of George Kernan, who is principal of the schools in Summit, South Dakota; J. H., who is engaged in the real estate business in Summit, and owns the site of the new Carnegie; Mabel Emma, the wife of Ed. Gibson, who is editor of a paper in Welcome, Minnesota; Alice, the wife of E. Wartenbee, of Dexter, South Dakota; Laura, who is married and lives in Dexter; and Roscoe, who makes his home with his mother in Summit, South Dakota.
Mr. Alexander, whose name introduces this review, together with his mother and his brother, J. H. Alexander, took homestead claims near Dexter, South Dakota, and made the necessary improvements thereon whereby to secure their titles. In his early youth our subject attended the district schools of Buena Vista County and was also a student in Sac City for several years. He spent one year in an academy at Wilson Junction, and one year continuing his education at Osage. He had worked with his lather at carpentering and in the car shops, and thus gained a good knowledge of the business, so that when he started in business on his own account at the age of twenty-three years, he was well equipped for the duties that devolved upon him. He became a contractor and builder of Mason City, where he remained for two years, and then entered the service of the John Paul Lumber Company, being the second man in their employ. After six months he was sent to Nora Springs, Iowa, to manage their interests there and continued in charge until the spring of 1891. On the 8th of May of that year he came to Pomeroy as their agent and later became a partner in the Woodford & Wheeler Lumber Company, acting as manager of the business for two years. In 1893 he was admitted to an equal partnership in their enterprise and his labors and business ability contributed in no small measure to its success. In 1897 he established the lumber business under the firm name of C. W. Alexander & Company, which was incorporated under the laws of Iowa. This firm began operations at Vermillion, South Dakota, and is now conducting a successful business there. Mr. Alexander is thoroughly informed concerning lumber values and through his enterprise and capable management, he has succeeded in building up an extensive trade. In March. 1885. was celebrated the marriage of our subject and Miss Lucy T. Barton, a daughter of W. H. and Emilia (Clarke) Barton, both of whom were natives of Vermont. Her father is now a retired farmer and makes his home in Minnesota. The marriage of our subject and his wife has been blessed with seven children, namely: Amelia Sarah, born February, 1886; Arthur B., born January 24, 1888; Paul, born in December. 1889; Addie S., born in August 1891: Barton, born in June, 1893; Clarke, born in December, 1895; and Lucian H., born in 1898. At the time of the great cyclone which swept over Pomeroy on the 6th of July, 1893, Mr. Alexander and his wife and five children were in their home and he was slightly injured. All of the shingles, the porches, the roof and the back part of the house were carried away, but on account of the front door being left open there was a draught which swept through the house and
not against it, and thus it was saved. In February, 1902 Mr. Alexander sold his interests in the lumber yard at Pomeroy to his partners there and bought a lumber yard at Lohrville, Iowa, also a lumber yard at Rands, Iowa, and increased the capital stock of the C. W. Alexander & Co. corporation to $100,000, and expects to establish a line of years along the Great Western Railroad on the new line from Fort Dodge to Omaha, passing through Lohrville and making Lohrville headquarters. Mr. Alexander is very prominent in fraternal circles, belonging to the Solar Lodge, No. 475, F. & A. M., in which he is now serving as senior warden. Both he and his wife are connected with the order of the Eastern Star and they belong to the Royal Neighbors. He is likewise a member of the Modern Woodmen Camp, and gives his firm allegiance to the beneficent principles upon which these fraternities are founded. In musical circles Mr. Alexander is considered one of the best musicians in the country. He possesses a heavy, rich, bass voice of wonderful range and power, hence his services are always in demand to assist in furnishing appropriate music for the special occasions during the year. In religious faith he is a Baptist and in political belief is a Republican. He has served as a member of the city council for two years and for ten years has been a member of the school board, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend. [Source Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S.J. Clarke, 1902, p.484]


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