Saturday, September 08, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History September 9

Hurricane wipes out Alexander Ranch Sept. 15-17, 1875

Among the relocations associated with the Reconstruction era in Texas was that of Robert Alexander who left Cottage Hill, his beloved ranch in northern Austin County, and moved to a 635 acre island adjacent to San Jacinto Bay in Harris County. His situation seemed much improved. His daughter and son-in-law lived only three miles away on the mainland. His father-in-law, David Ayres, and brother-in-law, David Theodore Ayres, lived in Galveston. That city also was the site of the Texas Christian Advocate, and therefore functioned as an administrative center for Texas Methodism. It was there, for example, that the Educational Convention met to make plans for a university supported by all the Texas annual conferences. Alexander was chosen president of that convention. He was also Presiding Elder of the Galveston District and in that role helped start a second church in Galveston (St. John’s). From 1870 to 1872 he served the Lynchburg Circuit which included not only Lynchburg, but also the settlements near present-day Baytown, including Cedar Bayou.

In 1872 Alexander did not take an appointment. He spent his time working on the Educational Convention and pursuing his agricultural interests. Things did not go smoothly. In the spring of 1873 he suffered a severe goring from one of his bulls. Recuperation of his injured thigh took months. The greater disaster occurred in September, 1875, when his island home was hit by a hurricane. The Alexander family lost everything, herds, house, outbuildings, and personal effects. (This writer bemoans the loss of personal papers.) The family had to seek shelter from the flood in tree branches.

After a long convalescence in Galveston, the sixty-four year old Alexander had to get back to work. He took an appointment at Travis, about 5 miles west of his former residence at Cottage Hill, and then became Presiding Elder of the Chappell Hill District where he bought a home.

Family problems continued. Eliza Alexander died in August, 1878, having never recovered from the trauma of the hurricane.
Alexander’s son-in-law also died so his daughter, Fanny Lide moved back into his household with her seven children. By that time Alexander had remarried. The new Mrs. Alexander was named Patience. One hopes she had that virtue in great abundance.

The hurricane of September 1875 thus had long-lasting effects for the Alexander family. Robert Alexander had to return to the active ministry. He returned to the part of Texas to which he had come nearly forty years earlier. It was there that he died in April, 1882.


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