William Tasse Alexander Family papers
Scope and Contents
The William Tasse Alexander family is a collection that contains a wide assortment of papers from a prominent and wealthy plantation-owning family in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina from 1816 to 2000. There are several files in the collection that concern family history, with documentation that charts the pedigree of the Alexanders back to Ireland and Scotland.
Other papers in the collection concern their purchase and sale of acreage in Mecklenburg County, the taxes the Alexanders paid, the crops they cultivated, the consumer goods they purchased, the business transactions they made, the lawsuits in which they were involved, estates that they inherited and people that they enslaved.
Of particular note are materials documenting the Alexander family's purchase of several enslaved people, including records of enslaved people's names and ages. Records of enslaved people are in the Legal and financial materials series.
- 1818 - 2000
- Alexander family (Family)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
The William Tasse Alexander family descends from some of the earliest settlers of Mecklenburg County. Genealogical records trace family origins to the lowlands of southern Scotland, with some researchers tracing the Alexander ancestry to Robert the Bruce, King of Scots (1316-29). Being intensely Presbyterian, the Alexander family took refuge in Ireland in the mid-1600s to escape religious persecution. Records indicate that James Alexander pastored the churches of the Laggan presbytery and lived in Raphoe, Donnegal, and Sligo, Ireland. His seven sons emigrated to America between 1656 and 1670 and settled in Cecil County, Md.
The first Alexanders moved to North Carolina from Maryland between 1748 and 1752 and settled close to the Cabarrus-Mecklenburg County line near the Salisbury-Charlotte Road between Coddle Creek and Rocky River. In 1767, Moses I, the grandfather of William Tasse Alexander I, bought 185 acres of land near Mallard Creek and the mouth of Stony Creek, but never actually lived there.
Moses Alexander was born in Cecil County, Maryland in 1730 and moved to North Carolina with his family when he was a boy. He married Martha Kirkman in 1770 and had eleven children: Andrew (1771), Moses II (1773), Ambrose (1775), Sidney (1777, their only daughter), Hezekiah (1779), Uriah (1781), James (1783), Abner (1786), Amzi (1788), Ezra (1790), and Benjamin (1792). While there is no record of his death, will, or burial, it is believed that Moses Alexander I died in 1810.
On January 28th, 1800, Moses Alexander II married Elizabeth Orr (1771-1839). They settled on part of the land that his father had purchased in 1767 near Mallard Creek and the mouth of Stony Creek. They had five children: Martha (1800), William Tassey (1802), Mary Orr (1805), Elizabeth Adaline (1808), and Moses III (1810).
In January, 1841, one and a half years after the death of his first wife Elizabeth Orr, Moses II married Matilda McCalebs. No children were born to this union. The Moses Alexander II family were members of the Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church. Moses II died on March 31, 1859 at the age of 85. He and his two wives are buried in the Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church cemetery.
William Tasse Alexander I was born in the Mallard Creek area of northern Mecklenburg County on December 19th, 1802. The owner of a cotton plantation, he was very successful and by the time of the Civil War had accumulated over 1000 acres of land on Mallard Creek and enslaved approximately 30 people. Old receipts show that he delivered cotton to Cheraw, Columbia, and most frequently to Camden, South Carolina. According to family tradition, William Tasse Alexander acquired the land and house of John H. Orr around 1820. The two-story Federal style brick house was built in 1799 and completed in 1800 by a Mr. Sadler. The house still stands today as a local historic site, although much of the land has been sold to developers. A small parcel of land that served as a burial ground for enslaved people was also preserved.
On April 24, 1824, Alexander married Mary Hunter (January 1791-August 24, 1831). They had only one child, Margeret E. (April 27, 1828-March 24, 1832), who died tragically in a fire at one month prior to her fourth birthday. One year earlier, his first wife died on August 31, 1831.
William Tasse Alexander I married his second wife, Margeret Moriah Harris (November 1811- April 1839) on March 28, 1833. They had three children: Robert William (September 22, 1834-March 5, 1856), Elizabeth H. (November 15, 1836-December 6, 1837), and Margeret M. (April 2, 1839-December 10, 1843). His second wife, Margaret Moriah Alexander, died on April 3, 1839, from complications due to childbirth one day after giving birth to their third child, Margeret.
In the summer of the following year, June 11, 1840, William Tasse Alexander I married his third wife, Mary Jane Orr (October 1820-September 1842). This marriage produced one son, John Morehead (July 4, 1842-February 23, 1896). Less than one month after John’s birth, on September 15, 1842, Mary Jane Alexander died.
Almost four years after the death of his third wife, on August 4, 1846, William Tasse Alexander was married, for a fourth and final time, to Margery H. Cochran (August 1824-January 1910). The couple produced eight children: Mary Jane (born November 5, 1847; married Robert Hall Flow on January 29, 1867, reared nine children, and died December 7, 1915); Martha Ann (b. February 7, 1849); Charles Filmore (June 18, 1851-August 25, 1852); James Gilmer (October 31, 1853-April 24,1873); Margery Louisa (born December 10, 1855, married James Calvin Kirk on October 2, 1873, raised ten children, and died June 29, 1903); Margeret M. (February 25, 1859-November 7, 1860); William Tasse Columbus II (born October 14, 1861, married Mary Charlotte Watkins on May 18, 1898, reared five children, and died June 30, 1928); and Rebecca Neal (January 6, 1864-August 18, 1890). The name “Tasse” in William Tasse Alexander I comes from his grandmother’s (Elizabeth Orr’s mother’s) maiden name, which was Tassey.
John Morehead Alexander married Martha Query on June 22, 1865. The pair had eleven children.
William Tasse Alexander II inherited the family home place, which he farmed in addition to being a contractor. He married Mary Charlotte Watkins of Anson County, North Carolina on May 18, 1898. They had five children: Thomas Watkins (August 13, 1899-June 15, 1943), Margery Henry (January 8, 1902 – September 23, 1981), William Tasse III (February 1, 1904 – April 25, 1992), Robert Flow (December 14, 1905 - May 27, 1999), and James Moses (October 21, 1908 - September 10, 2000). Although William Tasse Alexander II was not an educated man, he and his wife were strong supporters of education and all of his children graduated from college. His wife, Mary C. Alexander (born February 27, 1869), was a school teacher and lifelong learner who continued her education into her nineties, taking classes at institutions including Davidson College and Montreat College. She died June 15, 1964. (Obituary in Charlotte Observer, June 16, 1964). On September 5, 1957, she announced her intention to donate 5 acres of land to Charlotte College, now The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in order to create access through her property to the campus from Mallard Creek Church Road. (Charlotte Observer, September 5, 1957). Mecklenburg County property deeds show she transferred land on January 25, 1960, to her daughter-in-law Carrie P. Alexander (the wife of Robert Flow Alexander). This deed contained language that the land was to be granted subject to the understanding that Charlotte College may exercise its right to a 100 foot right-of-way, outlined in a 1957 letter from Mary C. Alexander to W. A. Kennedy. Another Mecklenburg County land deed dated July 24, 1961, shows Carrie P. and Robert Flow Alexander granted to the Trustees of the Charlotte Community College (e.g. Charlotte College) this right-of-way, and that the road to be built was to be named Mary Alexander Road.
Two of their sons, William Tasse Alexander III and Robert Flow Alexander, shared several business interests, including William T. Alexander & Co., Auburn Coal Stoker Distributors, and Alexander Tank and Equipment Company. Margery Alexander, the couple’s only daughter, was well known for her contributions to education in Mecklenburg County and was honored by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools when, two months after her death in 1981, they named their staff development center on West Boulevard for her.
William Tasse Alexander III was born February 1, 1904 and died April 25, 1992. He graduated from Charlotte High School in 1923 and received his B.A. in History from UNC- Chapel Hill in 1927. During World War II he served with the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. William Tasse Alexander III, also known as “Bill,” was active in many community groups including University Civitans, Newell Volunteer Fire Department, Newell toastmasters, and the Mecklenburg Republican Party. In 1942 and 1968, he made unsuccessful bids for the North Carolina State Legislature. He was a member of the Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church where he served as a deacon, elder, and building committee chairman. He met his wife to be, Sarah Margeret Land (June 12, 1913 - January 26, 2005) at a regional teachers meeting he was attending with his sister at the University of Kentucky. He married Sarah Margeret Land on July 10, 1943 in Lexington, Kentucky. The couple had three daughters: Sarah Land (born August 28, 1944), Margaret Stafford (born July 3, 1945), and Mary Neal (born October 1, 1948 and killed in an automobile accident in Fayetteville, NC on April 2, 1968.)
The William Tasse Alexander I House is on the registry of historic Mecklenburg County homes. In 1999, much of the land that was the William Tasse Alexander plantation was sold to developers and was considered as a possible site of Mallard Creek Country Club, a 36 hole golf community.
1 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Papers of William Tasse Alexander and his descendants in the Mallard Creek area of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Consists primarily of records relating to the operation of the family plantation, including deeds and other legal papers, financial accounts, and information on cotton production and enslaved people. Also includes correspondence, an 1882 school register, genealogical material, clippings, photographs, and early twentieth century postcards of Charlotte. A portion of the 19th century family library is in the Dalton Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The collection is arranged into seven series with two files (Memorabilia, 1832-1956 and Newspaper Clippings, 1927-1998) that do not belong in any series. The seven series are: Family History and Genealogical Research, Individual Family Members, Legal and Financial Materials, Cotton Gin, Oral History Transcriptions, Photographs and Postcards.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Mrs. William T. Alexander, 1999.
Existence and Location of Originals
Oversize items in this collection have been separated from the collection and removed to oversize storage. Photocopies of originals have been placed in collection folders.
Processed by Chris Knott in 1999, and Robert A. McInnes in 2011.
- Alexander family
- Alexander, William Tasse
- Charlotte (N.C.) -- Pictorial works Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Cotton growing -- North Carolina -- Mecklenburg County Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mallard Creek (Mecklenburg County, N.C. : Community) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mallard Creek (Mecklenburg County, N.C. : Community) -- Social life and customs Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mecklenburg County (N.C.) -- Social life and customs Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Plantation life -- North Carolina -- Mecklenburg County Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Plantations -- North Carolina -- Mecklenburg County Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Slave records -- North Carolina -- Mecklenburg County Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- W. T. Alexander House (N.C.)
- William Tasse Alexander Family papers
- September 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note