Biography of Hon. Lorenso P. Alexander



Berrien County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

HON. LORENZO P. ALEXANDER was born in Angelica, Allegany Co., N. Y., Aug. 10, 1820. His father, Thomas P. Alexander, was a native of New Hampshire; was a soldier in the war of 1812, and a descendant of the Alexanders of Glasgow, Scotland. His mother's maiden name was White; born and raised in Boston, Mass., and was a descendant of the Whites of Belfast, Ireland. When he was seven years old, his parents moved from Angelica to Belfast, in the same county, locating on the Genesee River. His father was postmaster in Belfast from 1833 until 1857. In September, 1841, at the age of twenty-one, he left home and friends for the West, and on the 11th of October following landed in Buchanan, Berrien Co., Mich., where he still resides. At that time, what is now the village of Buchanan consisted of foux cabins, a grist-mill, saw-mill, and distillery. Being a carpenter and joiner, he went to work at his trade the following winter, putting up a foot-lathe, and manufacturing splint-bottom chairs and rakes, this being the first enterprise of the kind in that part of the State. In 1824 he married Miss Rachel Cooper, daughter of Price Cooper, and a school-mate in his school-days in the East. Three children were born to them, two Sons and a daughter, viz., Theodore, who was drowned at the age of ten years; the youngest, Carlton, died of croup at the age of four years; Emily Kate is the wife of Henry C. French, a hardware merchant of Cassopolis, Mieh., to whom she was married in 1870; Mrs. L. P. Alexander, died, 1859, at the age of thirty eight years. He married Miss Helen M., daughter of John Burns, of Belfast, N. Y., Aug. 26, 1860. They have one son, John Burns, now twelve years of age.

In 1846, Mr. Alexander erected a frame dwelling-house on Main Street, Buchanan, in which he resided until 1864. In 1848 he. in company with J. D. Ross, erected a twostory stone building on Front Street, Buchanan, engaging the same year in the manufacture of boots and shoes in company with Dr. C. C. Wallin. In 1850 he engaged in the general mercantile business with J. D. & T. S. Ross, under the firm-name of J. D. Ross & Co. In 1858, T. S. Ross withdrew from the firm, after which the business was conducted in the firm-name of Ross & Alexander. They did a large business, averaging seventy thousand dollars annually for several years. In 1858 they erected the first threestory brick block in the place, on the corner of Front and Main Streets, and occupied it as a store-room. In 1862 they built. another brick block, called Union Block," on the south side of Front Street. During the erection of the second block the first one burned down. In 1862 they purchased forty acres of land within the corporate limits of the village, laying the same out in town lots, being known as Ross & Alexander's addition to Buchanan, which is now a central part of the residence portion of the village. In 1865, Mr. Alexander built a two-story brick dwelling-house on Front Street., which he occupied as a residence until 1873, then selling it for six thousand five hundred dollars. In 1875 he again erected a dwelling on Front Street, in the most central part of the town, in which he now resides. Mr. Alexander was the contractor and builder 0f the High School building erected in 1871, built of brick, three stories high above basement, costing thirty-five thousand dollars; and personally superintended the work.

Politically, he was in early life a Democrat, voting with that party until 1852. But when the South, aided by Northern Democrats in Congress, repealed the Missouri Compromise, thereby extending slavery into free territory, he ceased to act with that party, and in 1854 took part in the newly-organized Republican party, being one of its first and most active supporters in the place. In 1844, at the age of twenty-three, he was elected captain of Company E, 27th Regiment Michigan militia, to which he was commissioned by Governor Barry; he was soon promoted and commissioned by the Governor, colonel of the 2Sth Regiment, 14th Brigade, 17th Division of Michigan militia.

Mr. Alexander enjoys the respect and confidence of those around him, as will be seen by the many offices of honor and trust he has been called by them to fill,-all of which he has filled with honor to himself and satisfaction to his friends. From 1847 to 1851 he was constable and township treasurer. In 1851, 1853. and 1855 lie was elected supervisor. From 1848 to 1859, director of schools. In 1860 was elected by the Republicans of the second district of Berrien County (comprising Niles City) representative in the State Legislature, and was, therefore, a member of the House of Representatives during many long and extra sessions, on account of the important legislation during that time of war.

From 1863 to 1866 he was postmaster of Buchanan during Johnson's administration; was removed by PostmasterGeneral Randall for not complying with a request to sanction the so-called Philadelphia Convention, he being opposed to allowing late rebels to occupy front seats in the councils of the nation. In June, 1864, he was chosen one of the Michigan delegates to the Republican National Convention held at Baltimore, Md., which nominated President Lincoln, and was honored by the convention with a position on the committee to wait upon the President and other nominees, and formally notify them of the action of the convention.

In 1870 he was elected State senator from Berrien County, his competitor being the late Hon. R. C. Paine, of Niles, one of the most popular men in the county, and the hardest to defeat. In 1873 he was one of the commissioners appointed by the President to receive proposals and locate the site for the government buildings and post-office buildings at Grand Rapids, Mich. He was elected supervisor of Buchanan in 1872, '73, '74, '75, '76, and 1877; was assessor of the village and justice of the peace during the time; and, as the records show, was elected each time by nearly a unanimous vote. All of these offices he resigned in 1877. He is now a member of the school board and director of the graded and high school, which position he has held for the past five years.

In 1877 he was commissioned by President Hayes postmaster of Buchanan, which office he now holds. He was for many years one of the village trustees.

After all these years of labor, Mr. Alexander now fiftynine years of age is an active, stirring business man, and it is the earnest wish of his many friends that his days may be long on the earth, and that when, at last, his sun sinks behind the western horizon, it may descend to rise in the first resurrection.

History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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