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Rev Alexander Walter Sweeney
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Birth: Jan. 20, 1825
Tennessee, USA
Death: Nov. 28, 1903
Walla Walla County
Washington, USA


After a useful and well spent life Alexander W. Sweeney passed away on the 28th of November, 1903, honored and respected by all who knew him. He was born in Savannah, Flardin county, Tennessee, January 25, 1825, but before he was five years of age accompanied his parents on their removal to Arkansas, the family locating near Fayetteville, which was then a frontier settlement with no educational advantages. Being unable to attend school he was taught the elementary branches by his father until the latter's death, which occurred in 1833 when our subject was still quite young. The father had a contract with the government to carry the United States mail and during his illness the son often took the mail.

After his father's death Alexander W. Sweeney started out to make his own way in the world and was apprenticed to; a tanner, whose cruelty soon forced him to leave and seek the protection of an older brother. During the autumn of 1839 while attending a camp meeting near Fayetteville, he joined the Cumberland Presbyterian church and desirous; of becoming a minister, was received under the care of the Arkansas Presbytery as a probationer when about eighteen years of age. A school of academic grade had been established in the community and Mr. Sweeney became a student there, in the meantime working for his support and doing his studying at night.

When in his nineteenth year he was licensed to preach and according to the custom of his church was put on the circuit to preach a part of each year. During a period of six months of continuous service on the circuit he received only two dollars and forty cents in money, one pair of home knit socks and had his horse shod free. For four or five years he continued to attend school as opportunity afforded while preaching and in that time made sufficient progress in his studies to enable him to enter the sophomore year in college. Accordingly he went to Princeton, Kentucky, where he attended Cumberland College until 1850, and then returned to the Arkansas Presbytery, where he was at once ordained to the ministry at the age of twenty-five years, having spent eight years in preparation for his chosen work.

Soon after his ordination Rev. Sweeney joined a company of gold hunters who with ox teams crossed the plains and arrived at a gold camp on the American river in California, August 26, 1850. The following Sunday he preached to a company of miners that collected under the shade of a live oak tree, thus beginning a ministry on the Pacific coast which lasted until his physical health failed him. In 1851 he went to the Willamette valley in Oregon and was present as a visitor at the organization of the Oregon Presbytery, November 3, 1851. For seven years he preached throughout the Willamette valley, exerting a strong
moral influence wherever he went.

On the 15th of July, 1852, Rev. Sweeney was united in marriage to Miss Angeline Allen, of Marion county, Oregon, a daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Benson) Allen. Of the three children born to Rev. and Mrs. Sweeney, Adelia, the eldest, died at the age of fifteen years. Those still living are Samuel B. and Mrs. Adna Sharpstein.

On account of throat trouble Mr. Sweeney and his family went to California in 1858 and remained in that state for about four years, during which time he taught school for a year and a half at Sonoma, being principal of the female department of a Presbyterian college. In 1862 he again came north, going with the gold seekers to Clearwater, Idaho, where he devoted his time to the work of the ministry and to his duties as justice of the peace.

In 1867 he removed to Umatilla Landing on the Columbia river in Oregon, where he not only engaged in preaching but also taught school. There was no organized church at that place but he was paid about six hundred dollars by popular subscription, which was the best salary he had ever received for his ministerial services up to that time. For one year he served as superintendent of schools for Umatilla county.

In 1869 Mr. Sweeney returned to California, traveling by way of the Columbia river and Pacific ocean, and during his sojourn in that state taught school under supervision of the church at Collegeville, about eight miles from Stockton, in San Joaquin county for a year and a half, and on his retirement from that work returned to Oregon, spending two years at Albany.

From there he came to western Washington about 1872 and did considerable missionary work among the pioneers of this region, traveling over a large territory, more than one hundred miles in extent. He started the first Presbyterian church in Walla Walla with but two members. He preached in Waitsburg, Dayton, Pomroy and Colfax and often held services in school houses and groves thoughout the country.

Failing health at length caused him to retire from the active work of the ministry after thirty-five years of most faithful service. He preached occasionally up to the year 1900. His wife was a most competent help and by her good management made the sunset of his life much easier financially. His unselfish life and devotion to the work of the Master gained him the unqualified regard of all with whom he came in contact. Although now eighty-one years of age, Mrs. Sweeney is still well preserved, being strong and active and able to do considerable work. Her intellect seems unimpaired and she appears to be much younger than she really is. She was always a faithful wife, a capable financier and a hard worker, being able to support herself and children and secure the property which kept Mr. Sweeney in comfort during his declining years.

Source: Lyman's history of old Walla Walla County (1918) Page 308
Author: William Denison Lyman, 1852-1920
History; Columbia County (Wash.)
Publisher: Chicago, Ill., S.J. Clarke Publishing Company
Washington Deaths, 1891-1907

Name: Alexander W. Sweeney
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birth Place: Tennessee
Death Date: 28 Nov 1903
Age at Death: 78
Place of Death: Walla Walla
County of Death Registration: Walla Walla
Residence: Walla Walla
Father: Alexander Sweeney
Mother: Angeline Allen

Family links: 
  Angeline Allen Sweeney (1825 - 1918)*
  Samuel B Sweeney (1857 - 1920)*
  Adena Sweeney Sharpstein (1861 - 1922)*
*Calculated relationship
Mountain View Cemetery
Walla Walla
Walla Walla County
Washington, USA
Plot: WALLA-MA-14-14-5
Created by: Arthur Allen "Art" Moore...
Record added: May 28, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70528629
Rev Alexander Walter Sweeney
Added by: Arthur Allen "Art" Moore III
Rev Alexander Walter Sweeney
Added by: Arthur Allen "Art" Moore III
Rev Alexander Walter Sweeney
Added by: Arthur Allen "Art" Moore III
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