The History of The Alexander Family
Thanks to Gary Pitcock for contributing this
of The Alexander Family From Which Is Traced The
History Of THE MURPHY FAMILY And The Reprinting Of Some Interesting
Printed for Mrs. Adelaide Francis Murphy Sullivan, San Francisco, California.
HISTORY OF THE ALEXANDER FAMILY BY E.H. ALEXANDER, ANTIOCH
Our good friend Paul Revere requested me a short time
before the suspension of "The News," under its former editor, to write the
history of the Alexander family for publication. As
the history of this family is so closely interwoven with the histories of a
great many other families of different names, who can trace their descent
from John Alexander, who settled in Cumberland County in 1805, I have
concluded to give the main facts as gathered by my father, C. F. Alexander,
and Judge Tyler Alexander and others, and leave it to those who may be
interested to trace their individual descent from the old family tree.
First, we will briefly refer to the eldest members of the
family who came from Scotland. It appears that the Alexanders of Scotland
affiliated with Clans Wallace and Douglas, and were supporters of Robert
Bruce. Their motto in heraldry was "Faithful and Grateful." To go no farther
back that can be proven by family records, we find that John Alexander
married a Miss Margaret Gleason of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1735, and shortly
afterwards went to Ireland; and in the year 1740, he with two of his
brother's sons and a niece who had married a Mr. Polk, emigrated to America
and settled in Chesterlea, Pennsylvania. Soon afterwards the two brothers,
with their brother-in-law, Mr. Polk, moved to Mecklenburg County, North
Carolina. From this source sprang the Alexanders of North Carolina and a
great portion of those of Tennessee.
It will be
remembered by the historians that the first Declaration of Independence
originated and was known as the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence. An
Alexander was chairman of the meeting and another its secretary. Five of
their names were signed to this historic document. James came to America in
the year 1716 and settled in New York. His son, Wiliam, married a daughter
of Philip Livingston, and was known as "Lord Sterling." From that source
sprang the Alexanders of America.
The John Alexander
referred to, a short time after his nephew went to North Carolina moved to
Cumberland County, Tennessee, and afterwards to Berkly County, Virginia,
where he spent the rest of his days on a farm which he had purchased there.
His son, Robert, married Bertha Martin and settled in
Virginia. They had four children - John, Biddie, Bettie, and Susan. Biddie
married a Smith, Bettie married a Sampson and Susan married
a Spears. John
was born December, 1741. He married Lucy Nunn and settled in Henry County,
Virginia. He was a soldier of the Revolution and rose to the
rank of captain
in the Brigade of Light Horse Harry Lee. He moved to Cumberland County, Ky.,
in 1805, and settled on a large tract of land lying on Marrowbone Creek and
built the home in which Guy Davis now lives. Here he spent the remaining
days of his life. He died October 17, 1836, and his wife, Lucy, died July
The children of John and Lucy were Thomas,
Martin, Ingram, Robert, Reubin, Joseph, Phillip, Sollie, Biddy, Betsey and
Susan. Thomas first married Mollie Rancy and afterward Nancy Wisdom. Martin
married Winnie Jones; Ingram married Botsey Nunn; Robert married Polly
Miller; Reuben married Eliza Miller; Joseph first married Nancy Bouldin of
Hart County and afterwards Sally Bouldin of Virginia; Philip married Susan
Bouldin, a sister of Sallie; Biddy married Peter Gearhart; Betsey married
Thomas Smith; Susan married Michael Hall and afterwards a Mr. Porter.
As foresaid, those who are interested may trace their
particular line back to the Alexanders of Scotland. Among the families of
other names who are
descendants of John Alexander are the Munroes, Whites,
Gee, Paces, Davis, Richey, Allen, Baker, Jones, Smith, Beck, Norris, Nunn,
Harvey, Taylor, Strange, Stockwell, Murphy and a host of others that I do
not recall and have not space to mention.
of the name who are living on the place previously occupied by John
Alexander, Sr., are E. G., John O. and Herschel Alexander, of Waterview,
John R. Alexander of Marrowbone. Will E. Davis and Guy Davis, who are living
on the old home place, are direct descendants, being great-great grandsons
on their mother's side. As farmers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and
merchants they have been prominent, not only in the society in which they
live, but in the wider field they have been a part and parcel of the warp
and woof of national existence.
It was the thunder of Alexander's Battery that signaled
the charge of Gettsburg, when the flower of the Army of Virginia was hurled
like a restless wave on Cemetery Hill. These were some of the same stock who
stood in the solid wall that rolled back the wave in shattered fragments and
sounded the knell of the Confederacy.
In more peaceful
times we find the names of Tyler Alexander, Herschel Baker and Wallace
Jones, who have served their people with ability and honor as judges of our
circuit courts. Senator Frank White and Hon. James Harvey and others have
served in the councils of State. Edwin Norris, who was born and reared in
the old home place, was the popular Governor of Montana. In athletics Grover
Alexander has shone as a star of the first magnitude in the firmament of our
national game. As an educator James R. Alexander is known throughout the
State. But why be personal? There are hundreds who might be named.
The ladies of the family should not be forgotten. I have
often heard the old-time darkies speak of the grace and beauties of our
maternal ancestors - especially of "Miss Lucy" and "Miss Liza." According to
reports, Miss Lucy was small and fairy-like but exceedingly pretty and
vivacious. It is said all of her sons were over six feet tall and stalwart
and that their mother could easily walk under their extended arms. Often in
their sport they would seize their mother and carry her about the room as
though she were a little child. One old colored man who was brought from
Virginia and who was known as "Richmond Jim," often boasted to me of the
"quality of his family." An event he was very fond of relating was that
young Miss Eliza Miller was selected, on account of her beauty, to deposit a
gold coin in the cornerstone of the capitol. If "Uncle Jim" was anything
like a fair judge, she was also a very skillful performer on the "forte
piano." Reubin Alexander married Eliza Miller.
the many young lady descendants of those old-time beauties who were belles
in their youth, perhaps none were more popular than the Misses Nannie
Alexander of Burkesville and Lina Duerson of Marrowbone. Grace and beauty are still characteristics of the
descendants. From Willow Shade to Burkesville, including the whole of
Marrowbone Valley, they are to be found in abundance. Go to the old
homestead, which for generations has given of its substance to brawn of its
sons and bloom to its daughters, and there on the ground made sacred by the
footsteps of those who have gone before, you will find that the blood that
painted the roses in the cheeks of our great grandmothers still courses
through the veins of their daughters, and the bewitching beauty of Miss
Nellie is no less charming than were theirs.
time ago I had the pleasure of stopping over night at the home place and
enjoying the hospitality of Will, Ed and Guy Davis and their charming
It was with the keenest feeling of delight that
I was again permitted to ramble about the old place in the early morning and
watch the fogs of the valley roll away among the purple hills, and as the
rosy fingers of the dawn drew aside the curtains of the night and fashioned
the shining garments of the new-born day, I was again a little child,
dreaming the dreams of innocence and enjoying the beauties of life without a
thought of its shadows.
As I have perhaps already trespassed too far on your
space, I will say in conclusion that I hope the hundreds of your readers who
are in some way connected with the old families referred to may have some
pleasure in tracing their line back to the heather hilds of old Scotland.
In last week's issue of "The News," our
compositor made the following mistakes, which we wish to correct: John
Alexander came from Ireland to Chesterlea, Pennsylvania, instead of
Tennessee. Also he married Maryart Gleason, instead of Margaret, as was
stated last week.-----------
LETTER OF J. W. MURPHY TO
HIS AUNT, MRS. NARCISSA MERRIFIELD, OF OROVILLE,
Mrs. Narcissa Merrifield,
908 Meyer Street
Dear Aunt Narcissa:
I received your nice
letter some weeks ago and am now sending you a message of interest and love.
I learn from your letter that you are married again, and infer that you are
living out in the surburbs where you can keep chickens and make a garden.
After Aunt Susan was 90 years of age she raised a good garden over at Luray
and looked after a flock of chickens. She had read the Bible through
forty-eight times, once after 90 years of age without spectacles.
My sister, Mrs. Emma Cushman, is now living at 144 Sunset
Boulevard, Modesto, California.
My son was over at
Burkesville, Kentucky, some months ago and procured a lot of information
about our ancestry. Your mother was Elizabeth Gearheart.
Her mother was
Obedience Alexander, who married Peter Gearheart, your grandfather, at
Marrowbone, Kentucky. I am enclosing you a history of the
reaching back six generations to Scotland. Hundreds of our relatives are
living in and around Burkesville and Marrowbone, and this
history of the
Alexander family was written and published by one of them 25 years ago. Am
also enclosing you with this letter a bill of sale for a negro
your father purchased from your uncle in 1835 down in Kentucky. I am
wondering if this negro woman is "Old Auntie"? Do you know anything about
I am endeavoring to compile a history of our
family. The farthest back I can go with the Murphy family lineage is to
Francis Murphy, your grandfather,
who died on his farm at Burkesville,
Kentucky, in 1835. I am enclosing you a copy of his will, the original of
which is on record at Burkesville.
Where did your
grandfather, Francis Murphy, come from when he moved to Kentucky? Did he
come from Virginia; if so, what part of Virginia? Did he come from Ireland;
if so, what part of Ireland? How far back do we have to go to find our
ancestor, the Murphy who came from Ireland, adn what was his full name?
Please answer all of these questions as nearly as you can.
My four children grew to manhood and womanhood long ago and are married and
settled, and besides having four grandchildren I have one great grandson.
was 67 years of age on January 10, 1924. My health is good and I am a steady
worker. Myself and family send love to Aunt Narcissa. With affectionate
regards I remain
Your loving nephew,
J. W. Murphy
A DEED FROM THOS. AND SUSAN WASH TO FRANCIS
Original Record In Deed Book D, Page 152, Records Of
Cumberland County, Kentucky
This indenture made this 17th day of August in the year of
our Lord, eighteen hundred and nineteen between Thos. Wash and Susy his wife
of the one part, of Cumberland County and State of Kentucky, and Francis
Murphy of the other part, of the same State and County,
THAT, The said Thomas Wash and Susy his wife
for and in consideration of the sum of Two Thousand One Hundred and Forty
Dollars current money of the
State of Kentucky, to them in hand paid the
receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge hath by bargained and sold and by
these presents doth grant, bargain and sold and convey unto the said Francis
Murphy, his heirs and assigns a certain tract or parcel of land containing
two hundred and fourteen acres situated, lying and being in the county
of Cumberland on the north side of Cumberland River and bounded as
Beginning on Walter Nunn's corner, elm, horn beam
and hack berry, on the Bank of Cumberland River; thence up the river binding
thereon South 34 degrees East, 102 poles, to two maples and a box elder; at
the mouth of a branch; thence up said branch as it meanders North 74 degrees
East 40 poles to a beech; thence a new line North 55 degrees East 22 poles
to a walnut trere, dogwood and mulberry near a spring; thence South 53 1/2
degrees east 8 poles to a beech; thence North 49 1/2 degrees East 106 poles
to two sugar trees and a black ash on the Bank of the branch; thence north
11 degrees East 248 poles to three beeches in the old line of said Military
Survey; thence with that line North 60 degrees West 38 1/2 poles to Walter
Nunn's corner a beech in said line; thence with his line South 13 degrees
West 100 poles to a sugar tree and White Oak; thence South 43 degrees West
220 poles to the beginning.
With its appurtenances,
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said 214 acres of land with all and singular the
appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appurtaining to them. The
said Murphy his heirs and assigns forever, and to his and their only proper
use, benefit and behoof, and Thomas Wash and Lucy
his wife for themselves
and their heirs and all persons claiming under them further covenant and
agree to and with said Murphy and his heirs that the aforesaid tract of land
and appurtenances they will warrant and forever defend from the claims of
themselves and their heirs and from all and every person or persons claim or
claims of any kind whatsoever.
In testimony whereof the
said Thomas Wash and his wife Susy have hereunto set their hands and affixed
their seals this day and year above written.
Kentucky, Cumberland County,
I, Milton King, Deputy Clerk of the County Court, for
the County aforesaid do certify that Thomas Wash and Susy his wife parties
to the within deed of bargain and sale from themselves to Francis Murphy
came personally before me in my office on the 21st day of August, 1819, and
acknowledged the same to be their act and deed privily examined her the said
Susy, separate and a part from her said Husband, and she acknowledged that
she freely and voluntarily relinquished all her right of dower in and to the
within mentioned tract of land and premises without the persuasion or
coersion of her said husband and that she did not wish to retract the same,
and agree that the same should be received in my said office and that I have
recorded the same together with this certificate in my office in Deed Book
Witnessed my hand this 19th day of
LAST WILL OF FRANCIS MURPHY
ORIGINAL RECORD IN WILL BOOK C, PAGE 86, RECORDS OF CUMBERLAND
I, Francis Murphy, of the County of Cumberland, and State
of Kentucky, (being) of sound mind and memory, and wishing to arrange my
and to dispose of my property in an equitable and just
manner amongst my family, do make, constitute and ordain this my LAST WILL
hereby revoking all others, WITNESSED:
FIRST: I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Ann Murphy, for her natural life the one-third of all of my estate, both real and personal, and
it is my wish that in laying off her dower in my lands that it shall be so
done as to give her the mansion house, garden, and so forth and in such
manner as to operate equal on the respective parts of the lands laid off for
my sons, Reull and Foster Murphy;---and in allowing her the third of my slaves, stock and household goods, I wish her to select such as she may
prefer, and I do hereby give her the privilege. The personal estate allotted
to my beloved wife to revert back to my estate at her death and to be
divided as hereafter named between my children or their heirs.
SECOND: I give and bequeath to my sons, Ruell
Murphy and Foster Murphy, the lands and tenements at present owned by me or
I may possess at my demise
or diseeged to them and their heirs forever,
subject to the dower of my wife, to be divided as follows, viz: To
Ruell Murphy all that portion of the tract of land on which we at present
reside lying north of a dividing line this day run and marked by W. C.
Barton (in the presence of both Reull and Foster Murphy), being that part of
said tract adjoining the land of W. Nunn's Est. and of which Reull Murphy
have rerected a dwelling house and improvements, containing by survey,
-------acres. ----To Foster Murphy all that portion of said tract lying
south of said dividing line and adjoining the lands of Thos. Wash's Est. and
being that part on which the mansion house is situated containing
-------acres. The hill lands being south of the Cumberland River to be
divided equal between them in such manner as they may agree on. Their respective parts of the land willed by these presents to be valued to them
by Commissioners at a fair cash valuation and they are to account for the
same in the distribution and division of my estate or property.
THIRDLY: I give and bequeath my whole estate to be equallyl divided and allotted between and amongst my five children, viz:
John Murphy, Reull Murphy, Nicholas Murphy, Foster Murphy and Missouri
Murphy, or should either of them die previous to my demise to his or her
heirs; my son John Murphy accounting for in said division the sum of one
hundred and eighty-five dollars previously to this date given him; my son
Reull Murphy for the sum of one hundred ($100) dollars given him previous to
this; my son Nicholas the sum of One hundred and seventy dollars heretofore
received by him, my son, Reull Murphy furthermore to account in said
division for the amount of the valuation of the lands (not including the
buildings and improvements put on the same by himself) hereby devised, and
my son Foster the amount of the valuation of the lands hereby willed him and
my daughter, Missouri, to account for the appraisement of the little negro
girl Indith which I have given her. It is furthermore my wish that my slaves
be held by my children and taken by them at valuation and that my estate be
divided as early as convient after my death with as little cost as possible.
I appoint my sons John Murphy and Foster Murphy my executors.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal
this 11th day of April, 1833.
Signed and acknowledged in the presence
In allotting or laying the dower or thirds to my beloved
wife Ann Murphy I wish her to have the one-third of the lands independent of
the value of the mansion house. And on the value of Foster Murphy land do I
hereby direct that house or houses thereon is not to be taken in the
estimation of the valuation by the Commissioners, but he is to be placed on
the same footing of his Bro. Reull, as I allow him the improvements for his
extra services. In addition to the within will I have hereunto annexed the
Given under my hand the 11th April
acknowledged in the presence of :
Nathan S. Strange,
Kentucky, Cumberland County, Sct.
I, Milton King, Clerk of the County Clerk for said
County do hereby certify that the within last will and testament of Francis
Murphy dec'd, together with his codicil annexed was produced in open court
at the September term 1833, and proven by the oaths of Reubin Alexander and
Nathan S. Strange two of the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to
record and the same is truly entered of record in office in Will Book C,
Given under my hand this 6th day of Dec.,
M. KING, Clk.,
Haggard, D. C. C.
SALE OF NEGRO WOMAN AND CHILD
Burkesville, Kentucky, May 10, 1835.
Know all men by
these presents that I, Nicholas Murphy, of the county of Cumberland and
State of Kentucky, have this day bargained and sold, and by these presents
do bargain and sell, unto Reuel Murphy, one negro girl named Eda and her
child named Mary, for and in consideration of the sum of Five
Dollars ($500.00), the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged; and the said
Nicholas P. Murphy doth hereby covenant that he will forever the
Negroes and their future increase, unto him the said Reuel Murphy, his heirs
and assigns, against all persons whomsoever.
whereof the said Nicholas P. Murphy has set his hand and seal this 10th day
of May 1835.
(Signed) N. P. MURPHY.
A DEED FROM RUELL MURPHY AND WIFE TO FOSTER
ORIGINAL RECORD IN DEED BOOK J, PAGE 162, RECORDS OF CUMBERLAND
This indenture made and entered into this 18th day of
October, 1836, by and between Ruell Murphy and Elizabeth his wife of the one
part and Foster Murphy of the other part, WITNESSETH:
That, the said Murphy for and in consideration of the sum of $738.34 in hand
paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, the said Ruell Murphy hath bargained and sold and confirmed and by these presents bargain, grant, sell, convey and confirm unto the said Foster, his heirs or assigns, two
certain parcels of land lying and being in the County of Cumberland, and
State of Kentucky, one parcel being the land and premises whereon the said
Ruell resides at present being the west end of the tract of land that the late Francis Murphy deid seized devised and will by said Francis Murphy to said Ruell Murphy not including any portion of said land included in the dower of their mother, Ann Murphy to be laid off as directed by the will of
Francis Murphy of record in Cumberland's County Clerk's Office, being
one-third of the homestead tract of land that their father died seized in
the one-third of Two Hundred and Fourteen acres see deed Wash to Murphy,
also the undivided moiety of a survey of 100 acres of land lying on the
south or opposite side of the Cumberland River in the hills held heretofore
jointly by Ruell and Foster Murphy. To him the said Foster Murphy and his
heirs and assigns forever with all the privileges and appurtenances thereto
belonging and the said Ruell Murphy and Elizabeth his wife do by these
presents warrant and defend the right and title in fee simple in and to the
above conveyed premises that is the seventy-one and one-third acres on the
north side of the Cumberland River and the fifty acres of land on the south
side to the said Foster Murphy his heirs and assigns against the claim of
all and every person or persons whatsoever.
testimony whereof the said Ruell Murphy and Elizabeth his wife hath hereunto
set their hands and affixed their seals the day and date above written.
ELIZABETH MURPHY (Seal)
Joseph M. Gearhart.
Kentucky, Cumberland County, Sct.
I, M. King, Clerk of the Cumberland County Court, do
certify that the within deed was proven before me on the 7th day of
November, 1836, by the two
subscribing witnesses hereto and ordered to
record and the same is entered of record i my office in deed book J, Page
Given under my hand this 10th day of Nov.,
A DEED FROM RUELL
MURPHY AND WIFE TO FOSTER
ORIGINAL RECORD IN DEED BOOK N, PAGE 120, RECORDS OF
This indenture made and entered into this the first
day of March eighteen hundred and fifty-four, between Ruell Murphy of the
County of Clark, State of Missouri, of the one part and John W. Hunter and
Louisa Ann Murphy of the County of Cumberland, State of Kentucky, of the
other part, WITNESSETH:
That, the said Murphy for and
in consideration of the sum of Four Hundred Dollars to be paid upon delivery
of this deed, one-half of which sum Curtis
Blacwkood (Blackwood), Guardian
to the Louisa Ann Murphy is to pay, the said Ruell Murphy, hath this
day bargained, sold, aliened and conveyed unto the
said John W. Hunter
and Louisa Ann Murphy all his interest in and to the tract of land of which
his father, Francis Murphy, died, seized and possessed, situate, lying and
being in the County of Cumberland, State of Kentucky, upon the north side of
Cumberland River in what is called Washes Bottom, the part of said tract
intended her to be conveyed is an undivided sixth of the whole of said tract
or one-half of the portion devised by the said Francis Murphy, his wife to
Ann Murphy his wife of dower or as shair in lien or dower and the said Ruell
Murphy covenants and agrees to and with the said John W. Hunter and Louisa
Ann Murphy that he will warrant and forever defend the title of the land
hereby conveyed unto the said Hunter and Murphy of the second part their
heirs and assigns free from and against the claim or claims of all and every
person whatsoever, hereby linding himself, his heirs and assigns and
executors on this warranty.
In testimony whereof the said Ruell Murphy and Elizabeth his wife who hereby relinquishes her claim to
dower in the land conveyed have subscribed their names and affixed
their seals this day first above written.
State of Missouri,
Be it remembered that on this 1st day of March,
1854, before me John P. Hampton, Clerk of the County Court within and for
said County of Clark, personally appeared Ruel Murphy personally known as to
me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument of
writing as a party thereto and acknowledged the same to be his act and deed
for the purposes therein attained.
Given under my
hand and seal and office at Alexandria, this 1st day of March, 1854.
(Seal) JOHN P. HAMPTON,
State of Missouri,
County of Clark.
I, John P.
Hampton, Clerk of the County Court of Clark County, State of Missouri, do
certify that the foregoing instrument of writing from Ruel Murphy and his
wife Elizabeth was this day produced to me by the parties and the contents
and effects of the said instruments being explained by me separate and apart
from her husband she thereupon declared that she did freely and voluntarily
execute and deliver the same to be her act and deed and consented that the
same might be recorded.
Given under my hand and seal of
office at Alexandria, this first day of March, 1854.
(Seal) JOHN P. HAMPTON,
State of Missouri
County of Clark.
I, Reyonlds Bane, Judge of the County Court of Clark
County and State of Missouri do certify that the foregoing attestation of
John P. Hampton, Clerk of The County of Clark and State of Missouri, is in
due form and by the proper offices and the signature purporting to be his is
genuine. Given under my hand and seal this the 20th of
REYNOLD BANE (Seal)
Justice of the County of Clark, State of
State of Kentucky,
County of Cumberland.
I, James Haggard, Clerk of the County Court for said
County do certify that the foregoing deed of convegance together with the
official certificates endorsed thereon is truly entered of record in my
office in deed book N, page
Given under my hand,
JAMES MAGGARD, Clerk.
Martin, D. Clk.