Biography of Hon. Andrew McAlexander
It is with especial pleasure that we are enabled to recite the salient points in the eventful and lengthy career of the distinguished and prominent citizen of Wallowa county, whose name is at the head of this article, since his life has been spent in the noble and self-sacrificing work of the pioneer, wherein he has served with the faithfulness, ability, integrity and energy that are characteristic of him, being a potent influence in the development of two states and having wrought in Oregon, so that his memory will be handed down to generations to come with expressions of appreciation and esteem.
Mr. McAlexander was born in Virginia, near Richmond, on August 15, 1815, being the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Ware) McAlexander, natives also, of Virginia. Our subject’s father did valiant service in the war of 1812, being an officer in that conflict, and the grandfather of our subject, a native of Scotland, was an officer in the most memorable of all struggles that have had to do with our nation, the Revolutionary war. The ancestors were pioneers of this country in colonial days and assisted in laying the foundations of the greatest of all nations on the earth today, and our subject has continued this work in pioneering in Missouri and in this state, where he has been a prominent figure, as later detail will manifest. Andrew remained at home, gaining a good education and learning the brick mason’s trade, until he had arrived at the age of twenty-two years, then came to Missouri. He perfected himself in the builder’s art, and did pioneer work there until 1851, then came overland across the dreary, and dangerous plain and mountain, settling in Lane County, where he took up a donation claim and set himself to develop the resources of the country. He raised stock and drove them to California. In addition to this enterprise he was attending to his business in building and in 1875 he was superintendent of the buildings for the State University at Eugene and in 1877 he held a like position for the state penitentiary buildings at Salem, in all of which capacities he showed marked skill and ability, leaving monuments of enduring qualities, showing both his masterful ability and stanch integrity. In 1855 Mr. McAlexander was elected to the territorial legislature, being the second incumbent of that office elected from Lane County. In those early days the practical judgment and keen foresight and fine talents of our subject were brought into play for the general good of all, and his work will testify for him. In 1875 Mr. McAlexander sold his possessions in Lane County and came to Union county, then sought out a place in Wallowa county, taking a homestead near where his son lives at the present time. He opened up a farm in good shape and then retired from active service to enjoy the fruits of his worthy and long labors. He is living with his son, A.V., mention of whom is given elsewhere in this volume.
On August 31, 1838, our subject married Miss Verlander, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Ray) Dickey, at Independence, Missouri. The following children crowned the union: Malinda J.: Zarema, deceased: Parmelia F., deceased: John R., deceased: Robert, deceased: Americus V. Our subject’s father and mother lie buried in Cass county, Missouri, awaiting the morn of resurrection. Nearly four score years and ten Mr. McAlexander has lived in this pilgrimage scene, demeaning himself throughout as one of uprightness and integrity, constant in duty, and faithful at all times, he has won the good will and esteem of every one, and now as he journeys toward the setting sun, his expectation may well cling not to the things of earth, but to Him who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”