John Alexander of Dresden died in 1840, leaving a will naming his living children and grandchildren. One listed was a Charles Alexander. John had only two sons, both of whom died in 1827 when they were 21 and 23. Though old enough to have children of their own, I have found no marriage record for either John or William nor any other references to any possible children.
I stumbled across a Dr. Charles Alexander of Farmington and Chesterville recently and in trying to figure out who he really was, discovered that he was born in Pittston 28 Apr 1824 and died 9 Oct 18971 according to his obituary.2
It would have been possible for either John or William to father a child then but they would have been either 18 or 20, a little young but possible. Someone posted on the findagrave page that he was the son of Benjamin and Betsey. So what is known about Dr. Charles Alexander?
His obituary says his family moved to Farmington when he was four – 1828, the year after the Alexander boys died. So again, making it possible that either was his father.
The only Benjamin Alexander that could possibly be his father was Benjamin, son of Hugh of Harpswell. He married Hannah Sewall and by 1820 was living in Chesterville. The 1830 Chesterville census, however, only lists one male child under 5 and there two earlier male births in the records; however, only one of Benjamin’s children can be found as an adult and the family doesn’t appear in the Maine censuses after 1830. According to Charles Nelson Sinnett, there was a son named Henry b.1825 who moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, “at an early age”.3 Henry’s birth is not among the records I found though. Close to the same birth year and both moved to Wisconsin. Can this be the same man? That “at an early age” is definitely different. Sinnett’s accounts are always fraught with errors, especially about folks who moved away from Maine. The birth place as Pittston for Charles makes it less likely this is the son of Benjamin and Hannah.
My strongest take away was that Wisconsin held allure from some folks in the Chesterville area!
Dr. Charles was educated at the Farmington and Yarmouth Academies. He attended several universities including Harvard and graduated from the “medical department of the university of the City of New York” in March of 1850. That same year he appears in the Orono census as Dr. Charles. He married Achsa Evelina Allen of Industry 11 Jan 18514. They did have a daughter, Agnes, who lived less than a year. Achsa died two years later in 1856.
He married again in 1861 to Charlotte Augusta Allen of New Sharon, Maine. He did serve in the Civil War, 1862- 1864, in the 16th Maine Infantry.5 In December of 1866, they moved to Wisconsin and had a child on 21 Nov 1870. Joseph Bullen Alexander ended up being Dr. Charles’ only surviving child but his mother died in 1875 when Joseph was only five.
Charles then married Charlotte’s sister, Harriet Josephine Frances Bullen in about 1880 in Wisconsin. She had had two previous husbands and had one daughter, Olive Adams. In fact, in the 1870 census, Harriet and Olive are living with Charles and Charlotte. Harriet is listed as a schoolteacher. She had divorced her last husband in 1865 in Maine.6
Harriet died 21 January 1894 so in the end Charles outlived three wives. He died three years later.
Charles’ son, Joseph Bullen Alexander, attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and then the University of Wisconsin for his law degree. He married Jessie May Bunker of Waterville in 1898 and accumulated an honorary Master of Arts degree from Colby College that same year. After some years in Wisconsin as a judge, he moved to Seattle in 1900, established a law practice, and served as assistant attorney general for Washington state for several years. He and Jessie never had children. He died 27 Feb 1949 and Jessie followed him in 1956.
His obituary states ” He is felicitous and clear in argument, thoroughly in earnest, full of the vigor of conviction, never abusive of his adversaries, imbued with highest courtesy and a foe worthy of the steel of the most able opponent. “7
In the end, I believe Dr. Charles was the son of one of John’s two sons, more likely of the oldest, John. Without any living descendants, the complete and final proof may never be had.
- “Wisconsin Death Index, 1820-1907, “database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VJG2-J3W : 12 December 2014), Dr Chas Alexander, 09 Oct 1897; from “Wisconsin Deaths, 1820-1907,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2000); citing p. 0028, volume 01, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, reel 024, Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Vital Records Division, Madison.
- The Weekly Telegram, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 14 Oct 1897
- Sinnett, Charles Nelson, Ancestor David Alexander and descendants, 104
- “Maine Marriages, 1771-1907,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4XL-WPD : 10 February 2018), Charles Alexander and Achsah E. Allen, 11 Jan 1851; citing ,Penobscot,Maine, reference ; FHL microfilm 11,948.
- “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8S8-HJJ : 11 March 2018), Charles Alexander, 1890; citing NARA microfilm publication M123 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 338,275.
- Ancestry.com online database. Maine, Divorce Records, 1798-1891