John Milton Alexander House |
by M. B. Gatza
John Milton Alexander (1850-1936) purchased this 49-acre tract on Beatties Ford Road in the Gilead Community just before his marriage to Nancy Jane Fullwood (1853-1893). They were wed in a double ceremony at Gilead A.R.P. Church, together with John Milton's sister, Betty (b. 1853), and her husband W. T. Cashion. The house was unfinished at the time of the marriage, so the Alexanders lived in a "shack" on the property which had been erected as temporary shelter. With the help of W. T. ("Uncle Tom") Cashion, the eight-room house was completed in 1874, and the Alexanders moved in. 1
John Milton and Nancy Alexander wasted no time in starting a family. The first of eight children 2, Ida Josephine was born in 1873. All of the children were born and reared in the house on Beatties Ford Road. Of the eight, only one, Grier Caldwell (1881-1884), died young. The eldest daughter, Ida Josephine (1873-1891) died at age 18, but the others all had long lives. Nancy Alexander died in September 1893, just one month after giving birth to the youngest child, Nancy Fullwood. After Nancy's death, Milton's mother, Mary Alexander (1828-1912) came to live in the house and help raise the youngest children. It seems that "Grandma" was quite a character-- she smoked a corncob pipe and always wore black to church. In her later years, she acquired the habit of sitting in a corner and relating old war stories repeatedly. She stayed with the family until 1904 when she went to Huntersville to care for another son's family. She died in 1912 and is buried in the cemetery at Gilead A. R. P. Church. 3 Milton married Lura Gillespie after Nancy's death, but had no children by her.
John Milton Alexander farmed the 49 acres, and together with his brother-in-law, Francis Beard, ran a cotton gin, blacksmith shop and sawmill. He planted cotton, and probably corn and other crops as well. There was a garden plot which fed the family, and a grape arbor in the yard. He also kept bees, cows, and broke in unruly horses. There were two tenant houses on the property as early as the 1870s. One was occupied by Uncle Caleb and Aunt Hettie, and the other by the Tom Caldwell family. 4
In addition to the Alexander family and "Grandma," several others lived in the house at various times. Nancy Fullwood Alexander's young sister, Laura Elizia Fullwood (1862-1931), came to stay with the family after her mother's death in 1875 until her marriage to James Thomas Cashion, a neighbor's cousin. Grandma's half-sister, Aunt Huldah lived in one of the upstairs rooms for a time. Milton's uncle Moses also stayed with the family from time to time, but also stayed with other relatives and neighbors, apparently having no home of his own. 5 T. Alexander Park, possibly a relative, boarded in the house in 1880, and was probably employed as a laborer on the farm. 6
John Milton Alexander was a devout member of Gilead A. R. P. Church, and was a senior elder there at the time of his death in 1936. Two of his daughters, Minnie and Janet, were missionaries to Pakistan out of that church. Janet was also a doctor. Neither Janet nor Minnie ever married, choosing instead to devote their lives to missionary work. Because of their efforts, a hospital was founded in Pakistan and named after their mother. 7
In May of 1904, John Milton Alexander moved with his family to another location about three miles north (the site is now under Lake Norman). Coincidentally, his brother, Houston (1858-1904), died in October of that year from kidney disease. He left a widow, Annie, and several young children. After Milton's new home was completed, he sold the place in Gilead to his brother's family. It was deeded to the eldest son, William E. Alexander. He lived there with his wife, his mother, and the younger children for several years, but eventually moved back to Huntersville so that the children could attend school. 8
After Annie Alexander and her children moved back to Huntersville, the property passed out of family ownership. It was purchased by W. A. Cashion in 1909, who presumably held it until his death. After his death, the property was the subject of a lawsuit, the result of which was its purchase by J. M. Hubbard. Hubbard and his wife sold it in 1933 to Powell Regans. 9 Mr. Regans farmed the land while he lived there, and from him it passed to his heirs. The house lot (1.25 acres) is currently owned by a grandson.
1 Janet Alexander and Minnie Alexander. The Family Album of John Milton Alexander and Nancy Jane Fullwood . (n.p., n. d.), p. 38, p. 42, p. 49.
2 The eight children of John Milton and Nancy Fullwood Alexander are: Ida Josephine (1873-1891), William Leonard (1875-1950) who married Leona Susan Hanna, Minnie Rebecca (b. 1877 ), Essie Benlah (b. 1879) who married the Reverend John Walter Good and moved to Georgia, Grier Caldwell (1881-1884), Lily Louella (b. 1886) who married S. W. Dandridge, Mary Jeanette [Janet] (b. 1889), Nancy Fullwood (b. 1893).
3 Janet Alexander and Minnie Alexander. The Family Album of John Milton Alexander and Nancy Jane Fullwood. (n.p., n.d.), p. 43.
4 Alexander, pp. 42, 44, 45.
5 Alexander, pp. 42, 44.
6 1880 Census, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
7 Alexander, p. 39
Charlotte Observer, 5 February, 1936.
Interview with Anna Alexander Brackett, Mooresville, North Carolina, Spring 1988.
Interview with L. Wayne McCoy, Charlotte, North Carolina, Spring, 1988.
8 Alexander, p. 43, p. 45. Interview with Anna Alexander Brackett, Mooresville, North Carolina, Spring, 1988.
9 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 276, p. 686; Deed Book 696, p
313; Deed Book 842, p. 185; Deed Book 4465, p. 762.