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Capt John David Alexander
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Birth: Feb. 6, 1834
Death: Feb. 27, 1931

Capt. John D. ALEXANDER, Civil War veteran, one of Greene County’s oldest citizens and the oldest graduate of Indiana University, died Friday morning, February 27, at 3 o’clock at the home of his nephew, William J. SEXSON, two miles north of Owensburg. Death was due to the infirmities of age.

The passing of Capt. ALEXANDER removes from southern Indiana one of its noblest citizens. He had lived for more than ninety-two years, having celebrated his ninety-second birthday on February 6, in bed. He was not ill and suffered no pain. The physical body simply wore out after a service of more than a score of years past the proverbial limit of three score years and ten. Nothing can better attest the simple, pure life he lived than the nonagenarian mark, which he reached more than two years ago.

Brought up to reverence Almighty God, throughout his long life he exemplified his faith in Him in his everyday living and held steadfastly to that faith to the end. That faith enabled Captain Alexander to burn life’s energy sparingly, and at no time did he depart from the paths of right to indulge in frivolities, which might have weakened his body and shortened his life.

Clean living enabled him to retain his mental faculties to the last and as years mounted and there was a noticeable wearing out of the physical body, his mind remained clear and active. He read much and found contentment only in the highest class of literature, his Bible being his favorite volume, and those who in recent years have visited him found his room occupied by choice pages of literature and frequently he was known to lay down his Bible to entertain callers, and he had many, especially when summer sunshine enable visitors to motor to Sexson Spring to enjoy the beauties of nature found there.

For the past twenty years, Capt. ALEXANDER had made his home with his nephew, William SEXSON, and his good wife, and the contentment he enjoyed there is best expressed in a brief autobiography which he prepared several years ago and which ended with the statement: “Here I found a second home and have lived happily and will continue to live until I am called unto the Great Beyond.” While all members of the SEXSON family had contributed to making his closing years pleasant and comfortable, to Mrs. Nannie SEXSON, wife of his nephew, goes chief credit for his happiness. No more loving care and consideration could have been given her own child and the smiles, which always accompanied her rendition of unselfish service, made it more deeply achieved.

John David ALEXANDER, the youngest child of William and Martha L. (DUNN) ALEXANDER, was born in Bloomington, Indiana, February 6, 1839, and in 1842 moved with his father and mother when they settled in Greene County, near Hobbieville. There he spent his life until the age of seventeen years, attending the subscription and common schools. In 1856 he was sent to the State University of Indiana and took what was called “a classical course” in Greek, Latin and higher mathematics and graduated with the class of 1861, composed of twenty-two members.

In the fall of 1861 and the spring of 1862 he was a teacher in the common schools of Greene County.

In August 1862, he enlisted as a private soldier in COMPANY E, 97TH REGIMENT OF INDIANA VOLUNTEERS, and was mustered into the service of the United States September 20, 1862, as first sergeant of his company. In June 1863, he was mustered as second lieutenant of his company, and in March 1864, by command of his Colonel, Robert S. CATTERTON, he was placed in command of COMPANY D, of the same regiment and commanded the company on the Atlanta campaign until June 27, 1864, when he was severally wounded in his right hip in the assault on Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. He was able to return to his company and regiment in October of the above years in time to march with Sherman’s army to the sea. At Savannah, Georgia, in December, 1864, he received a commission of Captain of COMPANY D, and was mustered as such.

He marched with the army through South Carolina and North Carolina to Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he was appointed by General John A. LOGAN as Acting Assistant Inspector General of the Second Brigade, composed of the 46th Ohio, 97th and 100th Indiana, 26th, 40th and 103rd Illinois and 6th Iowa’s regiments of the First Division, 15th Army Corps, Army of Tennessee. From Goldsboro, he moved with his command to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Johnson’s army surrendered to Sherman in April 1865, thence through Virginia to Washington, D. C., and after the “Grand Review” was mustered out of service June 9, 1865. He then returned home by way of Indianapolis.

His regiment participated in the following battles: Vicksburg and Jackson, Miss.; Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, Resaca, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, New Hope, Jonesboro, Griswoldville, Savannah, Columbia, South Carolina, and Bentonville, North Carolina.

In the fall and winter of 1865—66 he attended the law school of Michigan State University, and in the spring of 1866 formed a partnership in the practice of law in Bedford with the late Moses F. DUNN. This partnership endured for one year when Capt. ALEXANDER removed to Bloomfield and engaged in the practice of law.

Here he united with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and in 1880 was elected as ruling elder of that church. Later he was chosen as a trustee in Lincoln University of Lincoln, Illinois, which was under control of the Cumberland Presbyterian church.

In the fall of 1880 he was elected prosecuting attorney of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Indiana, composed of the counties of Owen, Greene, and Morgan, and was reelected to that office in 1882. In October 1886, he was elected to represent the county of Greene in the lower house of the legislature.

On December 8, 1886, he was married to Miss Mary M. ROGERS, of Bloomington.

In 1888 he was nominated for judge of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Indiana, and was defeated.

In 1883 he became a member of Lovell H. ROUSSEAU Post No. 326, of Bloomfield, Department of Indiana Grand Army of the Republic.

In 1892 he again formed a law partnership with the Hon. Moses F. DUNN, returned to Bedford and was transferred from his Grand Army Post at Bloomfield to E. C. Newland Post, No. 247, where he retained membership to the time of his death.

Upon his return to Bedford, both Capt. ALEXANDER and his wife united with the local First Presbyterian Church, and he was later elected a ruling elder in that church and was a commissioner from the New Albany Presbytery to the general assembly, which met at Winona in 1894.

As a member of the Grand Army of the republic, he was elected Junior Department commander and was judge advocate of the department during three administrations, serving on the staffs of Commander David E. BEEM, of Spencer; Daniel R. LUCAS, of Indianapolis, and William A. KELLEY, of Fort Wayne, and in 1908 was elected commander of the department of Indiana. For many years Capt. ALEXANDER was a regular attendant at all national and state encampments of the G. A. R. being listed among those who attended nationally encampments at San Francisco, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Boston, Mass; Buffalo, N. Y. and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In 1895 he became a member of the Indiana commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and retained his member ship therein at the time of his death.

In 1900 his wife passed away while they were residents in Bedford, and eleven years later he gave up his practice of law by reason of age and disease, and leaving that city, came to make his home with his nephew, William J. SEXSON, and his wife.

For a number of years, Capt. ALEXANDER has been the oldest living member of the Greene and Lawrence County Bar Association, having been admitted to the practice of law in 1866. Since 1929 he has been the oldest living graduate of Indiana University.

He numbered among his closest friends and acquaintances, some of the state and nation’s most distinguished men, and was held in highest regard by all who knew him. In his last illness he received words of cheer from many of these and his sick room was always brightened by a wealth of blooming flowers, a recent bouquet noticed there having been sent by President William Lowe BRYAN of Indiana University, who has long been one of Capt. ALEXANDER’S closest friends.


Saturday’s Indianapolis Star had the following short sketch regarding Capt. ALEXANDER:

“Capt John ALEXANDER, ninety-two years old, known as “Uncle John,” died this morning at the home of William J. SEXSON, with whom he had made his home for many years, near Owensburg. He was born in Bloomington February 6, 1834.

He came to Greene County with his parents in 1843. He was the oldest living graduate of Indiana University, from which he was graduated in 1861. He was devoted in his loyalty to his alma mater and every commencement found him on the campus and his interest in the welfare of the university was as deep as that of more recent graduates. He maintained a lively interest also in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, of which he also had the distinction of being the oldest living member.

“August 18, 1862, he volunteered as a private in Company D, 97TH INDIANA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, and by promotion became captain of COMPANY D, of the same regiment and was mustered out of service June 9, 1865. Among the many engagements in which he participated were Vicksburg, Resaca and Kennesaw Mountain. The war over, he entered the University of Michigan Law School. After practicing law for a short time at Bedford, he came to Bloomfield, where he became a leading member of the bar.

“In politics he was a Republican. He served as prosecuting attorney of the fifteenth Judicial District, composed of Greene, Owen and Morgan counties, from 1881 to 1883, and was reelected and served a second term, the district then being reorganized into the Fourteenth, including Sullivan and Green Counties. He was the representative of Greene County in the general assembly of 1887. In May 1908, he was elected state commander of the G. A. R. and served one year. He was the oldest member of the bar associations of both Greene and Lawrence Counties. He left no immediate family, his wife having died childless many years ago. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church.

Captain John ALEXANDER, who until his death Saturday, was Indiana University’s oldest graduate, was laid to rest with military burial service Monday afternoon at Rosehill Cemetery, conducted by the Bloomington post of the American Legion, following the funeral service at the first Presbyterian Church with President William Lowe BRYAN in charge.

Pallbearers were Judge Joseph WILLIAMS, of Martinsville; the Hon William L. SLINKARD, of Bloomfield; John L SMITH, of Bedford; and J. F. REGESTER and T. J. LOUDEN of Bloomington.

Mr. SLINKARD presented the following tribute to Captain ALEXANDER as prepared by a committee of the Greene County Bar Association:

“Captain John D. ALEXANDER departed this life February 27, 1931 at Sexson Spring, at the age of ninety-two years and twenty-one days. He was born in Bloomington, Indiana, but when a child, removed to Bloomfield.

“He was graduated at the Indiana University in 1861, and for some years past has borne the distinction of being the university’s oldest alumnus.

“He was a Civil War veteran, having held the rank of Captain in the Union Army. After the war he practiced law in Bloomfield for many years. He was prosecuting attorney form 1882 to 1884, being elected by the judicial district then composed by the counties of Morgan, Owen and Greene. The legislature of 1883 too Greene County out of the district and Captain ALEXANDER continued to serve as prosecutor for the new district composed of Greene end Sullivan counties, until the end of his term. He was not a candidate for re-election.

“Some years ago he removed to Bedford, Indiana, and practiced law there for a number of years. On his retirement from the active practice, he took up his home at (Continued on Page Eight) Sexson Spring with his nephew, William SEXSON, where he lived until the time of his death.

“In the session of 1887 he represented Greene County in the lower House of the Indiana general assembly. He was State Commander of the G. A. R. from May 1908 to May 1909.

“About one year ago, or about the time of his ninety-first birthday, he was honored by being made the honorary commander for Indiana of the Loyal Legion, an organization of officers of the Union Army in the Civil War and their descendants. Captain ALEXANDER was a charter member of the Loyal Legion in Greene County.

“He was an able, conscientious and highly ethical lawyer, and an exceptionally useful citizen. He enjoyed among all who knew him, and exceptional popularity. Perhaps no man was ever held in more universal or higher esteem by his acquaintances; in fact, it may be said of him, that among all the people with whom he ever mingled, few, if any, ever had a word of criticism for him, either of his character or conduct.

“His name has been on the roll of the membership of the Greene County Bar since the earliest days of his practice in the law, and while in recent years his advanced age had kept him from mingling much with the citizens of Bloomfield and the members of the bar, everyone here considered it a great privilege to meet him when he did visit among us.”
“He will be greatly missed by all the members of this bar, and the people of the community, who each feel a person bereavement in his death. The members of the Greene County Bar will ever cherish the memory of Captain John D. ALEXANDER, and let us hope will strive to emulate his outstanding and shining example as an honest and ethical lawyer.”

Attached is a photo of Capt. ALEXANDER taken in June 1930 during the Indiana University Commencement.
 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Mary M. Rogers Alexander (1842 - 1900)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Rose Hill Cemetery
Bloomington
Monroe County
Indiana, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Susan (Haldeman) Fowler
Record added: Nov 30, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12550551
Capt John David Alexander
Added by: Sandra (Grissom) Hudson
 
Capt John David Alexander
Added by: Charles Stratton
 
Capt John David Alexander
Added by: Charles Stratton
 
 
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Companion #11514 - Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U.S.
- Jeffry Burden
 Added: Apr. 21, 2014
Thanks for your service and for writing the regimental history of the 97th Indiana, an invaluable gift to descendants of the men who served in the 97th.
- Gregory Laughlin
 Added: Aug. 23, 2013
Thank you for your service.
- Ron Stewart
 Added: Mar. 24, 2011
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