As I continue my Alexander research, I’ve finally gotten some “closure” on John and Susannah Reed Alexander of Dresden, Maine.
At this moment I do not know if there are any living Alexander-surnamed descendants of John and Susannah but there are other descendants though possibly not many. They may well not know the story though due to the early deaths in the family!
John and Susannah married 17 Nov 17911 and by 1800 were living in Bowdoin with a wife and 5 girls. In June of that year he bought land from Matt Hussey in Dresden2 and then appears in the Dresden censuses of 1810, 1820 and 1830.
He also appears in a number of other records in Dresden – as Fish Warden in 18023, with a 32-ton schooner, the Stralston, with a son-in-law4 and as a subscriber to the Methodists along with a daughter in 18185.
In 1830 John is listed in the census along with his son-in-laws, Ebenezer Small, Josiah Hill and John Hathorn near him. At the time all three wives, Sally, Lavinia and Susanna were living. Ebenezer’s wife, Lavinia, died before October of 1831 when he remarried.6
In 1833 John sold his home except for two rooms, one cow, one horse and a yoke of oxen to Ebenezer. It was a life tenancy type of arrangement where Ebenezer was to furnish food, raiment, medical and nursing to both John and Susanna until their deaths.7 This life tenancy arrangement was canceled in Dec 1835 when John sold everything to Ebenezer.8 It can be assumed this is when John and Susanna moved in with their daughter, Louisa, as they married the next month.
The final note was the discovery of John’s will in Kennebec County.9 Since Dresden is in Lincoln County, it never occurred to me to look to Kennebec for any trace of this family. I asked Eleanor Everson, owner of the land where John and Susanna were buried, how far was the river/county border from her house – she said about a 1000 yards. The Alexanders and their grown children all resided on the city/county border! John died in Kennebec County because he was living with his daughter, Louisa, in Pittston.
In the will he gives all remaining property to Louisa, one dollar to his other surviving child, Sally Hill, and one dollar to each of his grandchildren. The exception was the $100 he left Gamaliel Small, son of Nancy, whom John may have raised after his parents’ deaths. One grandson was named Charles Alexander, perhaps the son of either John or William who both died in 1827.
The Dresden Vital Records 10 gives us much of the children’s records:
Bornn to John Alexander of Dresden and his wife Susanna
1 a daughter named Sally Alexander Jan 29th 1792 [author: d.24 May 1858]
2 a daughter named Elizabeth Alexander the 10th day of June 1794 [d.March 4th 1829]
3 a daughter names Susanna Alexander the 30th day of June 1796 [d.8 Sep 182211]
4 a daughter named Polley Alexander 13th day of May 1798 [d.2 Feb 182212]
5 a daughter named Lewyna [Lavinia] Alexander the 4th day of July 1800 [author: d.bef 1832]
5 a daughter named Nancy Alexander the 18th day of September 1802
7 a sonn named John Alexander Jun: the 8th day of May 1804
Recorded September 20th 1805 per John Polereczky Town Clerk
John Alexander Junr died in August 1827 John Polereczky Town Clerk
William Alexander died December 10th 1827 John Polereczky Town Clerk
Widow Nancy Small died March 4th 1829
So 4 daughters died between the ages of 24 and 34 and I find none of their children’s deaths during that decade. No deaths seem connected to childbirth but two of the Small husbands also died during these years as did both of the Alexander sons. Of course, there’s no proof how any of these died but since 6 of 8 of John and Susanna’s children died in that one decade, one cannot help but consider a genetic issue such as a heart problem. I have not been able to find all the death dates for the grandchildren though which could provide further proof of that theory. Tuberculosis could possibly be in play but I’ve seen other families with TB deaths and this does not appear similar.
One interesting tidbit is that three of the daughters married three Small brothers from Pownal, sons of Isaac and Susannah Sawyer Small.
John Alexander died 1 Feb 1840 and Susanna died 25 Mar 1835, having outlived 6 of their 8 children. The children and many grandchildren are buried in Dresden, Pittston and Randolph – handy for me now that I live across the river from Randolph! Next up – Charles, grandson of John. I think I found him!
- “Maine Marriages, 1771-1907,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4X3-DQB), John Alexander and Susannah Reed, 17 Nov 1791; citing Civil, Lewiston, Androscoggin, Maine, reference ; FHL microfilm 223,931.
- Lincoln County Deeds, 45:75
- Allen, Charles Edward, History of Dresden, Maine formerly a part of the old town of Pownalborough from its earliest settlement to 1900 (1931) 496.
- ibid. 582
- ibid. 826
- “Maine Marriages, 1771-1907,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4FH-635 : 10 February 2018), Ebenezer Small and Caroline Hilton, 24 Oct 1831; citing Dresden,Lincoln,Maine, reference ; FHL microfilm 10,820.
- Lincoln County Deeds, 257:419
- ibid. 163:89
- Kennebec County Probate, vol 49, p 24-247
- Groves, Marlene, Vital Records of Dresden (Picton Press, Rockland, ME, 2012), 21 117, 133.
- ”Maine, Nathan Hale Cemetery Collection, ca. 1780-1980,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVJ5-438C), Susanna Hathorn, 1822; citing Dresden Mills, Lincoln, Maine, United States, Pine Grove Cemetery, Maine State Library, Augusta; FHL microfilm 1,315,226.