Rev. William M. Alexander (1852? - 1919)

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About Alexander's Year of Birth: Conflicting information exists pertaining to William Alexander's birth. Most likely, he was born in January 1852. This information appears with the most specificity in the records. However it is worth noting that census information only clouds the issue. He first appears in the 1880 census, with an age listed at "30," making his birth year 1850. His 1900 census information list his birth information as "Jany. 1852," (that identical birth information, however, is also given for his step-brother, Robert A. McGuinn, of a different father, whom William Alexander was resideing at the time). In the 1910 census, his age is listed at "55," making the year of his birth 1855. An obituary appearing in the Baltimore Afro American gives his birth year as 1854. The birth information on his 1919 death certificate was given as "unknown," although his age at time of death was given as "75," -- approximated, no doubt -- making his year of birth 1844. Finally, a Sharon Baptist Church Centennial Commemorative Booklet also marks his birth year as 1852, yet it is unknown from what source the authors of the 1985 work took their information. See: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU Tenth Census of the United States (Maryland), 1880, s.d. 1, e.d. 211, sht. 416B, ln. 46; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU Twelfth Census of the United States (Maryland), 1900, s.d. 1, e.d. 196, sht. 12B, ln. 62; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU Thirteenth Census of the United States (Maryland), 1910, s.d. 3, e.d. 235, sht. 17B, ln. 70; BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Death Record) MSA CM1132, "William M. Alexander," April 10, 1919, No. D30799; "Was 1st Editor of the 'Afro'," Baltimore Afro American, April 11, 1919; Sharon Baptist Church: Centennial Celebration, Baltimore, 1985, p.5, MSA Library, No. 1550, c.1.

About William Alexander's mother, Frances "Fannie" Alexander McGuinn: A listing in the 1882 Baltimore City Directory establishes the alias (probably given name) of Fannie Alexander McGuinn (1820 - 1889). The listing reads: "McGuinn, Frances, wid. J[ared]., 154 Preston." Jared McGuinn was Fannie Alexander's second husband. Jared passed before Fannie allegedly came to Baltimore from Richmond in 1875. The address 154 Preston was the known residence of Jared McGuinn's sons, Robert A., and Warner T. McGuinn, as well as his step-son William M. Alexander.

About Alexander's marriage and arrival in Baltimore: Information about the wedding of William Alexander and Mary Ellen Smith is sketchy at best. Several documents give clues, however. William Alexander's obituary in the Baltimore Afro American (April 1919) appears to read -- the microfilm is very poor, almost illegible, thus this point is debateable -- "He married Miss Ellen Smith in 1873..." Mary Ellen Smith's death certificate, November 24, 1899, identifies her as having lived in Baltimore for "29 years," or since 1870. By 1875, a "William Alexander," resided at 154 Preston Street. Over the following five years, not only did a "William Alexander," reside at 154 Preston but also: a "Warner McGwinn" [sic] (1876), a "Walter McQuinn," (1879), a "Robt. McQuinn," (1879), and a "Frances McGuinn," (1880). Furthermore, William M. Alexander, "cleryman," and his wife, Mary, were enumerated at that same address in the 1880 census. However, no "McGuinns," or any derivative thereof were enumerated at that address in 1880. See: the Baltimore City Directory, 1875 - 1880; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU Tenth Census of the United States (Maryland), 1880, s.d. 1, e.d. 211, sht. 416B, ln. 46; "Was 1st Editor of the 'Afro'," Baltimore Afro American, 11 April 1919; BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Death Record) MSA CM1132, "Mary Ellen Alexander," November 24, 1899, No. B22031; Leroy Graham, Baltimore: Nineteenth Century Black Capital (Lanham: University Press of America, 1982), p. 273. Also, the name "Fannie Alexander," appeared as a resident of Chapel Ct., near Washington in the 1871 Balltimore City Directory. However, the 1870 Census revealed that this woman, who might have been confused for William Alexander's mother, Fannie Alexander McGuinn, turned out to be a women of thirty (F.A. McGuinn would have been atleast fifty), mother of a six-month old boy, and live-in domestic to the family of John Robinson, a black laborer. The name "William Alexander," with no middle initial, first appears in the 1872 Baltimore City Directory, as a resident of 11 State Street, and another as a resident of 63 W. Centre Street. The following year, 1873, a "William Alexander," again with no middle initial, is listed at 12 Bolton Street. There is no way to be certain if any of these William Alexanders was William M. Alexander, for even after he verifiably resided in the city (1875), he didn't use his middle initial in directory listings until he became a missionary (1879). See: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU Ninth Census of the United States (Maryland), 1870, wd. 1, sht. 3, ln. 27; Leroy Graham, Baltimore: Nineteenth Century Black Capital (Lanham: University Press of America, 1982), p. 273; the Baltimore City Directory, 1871 - 1874.

About Mutual United Brotherhood of Liberty of the United States America: See: William M. Alexander, "Our Day In Court; or the Mutual Brotherhood of Liberty," Baltimore, 1891; A. Briscoe Koger, Dr. Harvey Johnson (Baltimore, 1957), pp. 12 - 16.

About William Alexander's Family Life: William and Mary Ellen apparently had no children of their own. However, in the 1889 Baltimore City Directory, an "Alexander, Wm. W., Rev," was identified as resident of 434 Orchard, Rev. William M. Alexander's known address. More importantly, an "Alexander, Wm. W., Jr." was reportedly resident at that same address. There were no previous nor subsequent listings for a "Rev. William W. Alexander," nor a "William W. Alexander, Jr." The names "William Alexander" and "William Alexander, Jr." do appear in subsequent city directories, but are distinguishable from 'Rev. William M. Alexander."

About Alexander's Business endeavors: After Alexander sold the Afro American to John Murphy, he began another newspaper, the Maryland Voice. See: "Was 1st Editor of the 'Afro'," Baltimore Afro American, April 11, 1919; Sharon Baptist Church: Centennial Celebration, Baltimore, 1985, p.7, MSA Library, No. 1550, c.1.




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