Alexander, Isaac (1832–1919)

By: Connie Snodgrass

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 31, 2021

Isaac Alexander, Methodist minister, youngest of fourteen children of David B. and Margaret (Gilmore) Alexander, was born on July 24, 1832, in Russell County, Virginia. His father was born in Ireland and came to America with his parents at age two. When Isaac was a year old, his family moved to Tennessee. At sixteen years of age he became a Methodist. He grew up at Cumberland Gap and Strawberry Plains, where he later graduated from high school. From there he went to Emory and Henry College, where he received an M.A. at the age of nineteen.

Upon graduation from college, Alexander moved to Henderson, Texas, to teach at Fowler Institute. In 1855 he was ordained an elder in the East Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and promptly persuaded the conference to authorize him to open a female academy in Tyler. After two years there, he taught for a year at the Chappell Hill Female College, after which he returned to East Texas to marry Miss Hall, the daughter of the Methodist preacher in Jamestown, Smith County, and open a school in his wife's home. The couple had two daughters. In 1859 the family moved to Gilmer, where Alexander taught school and preached. In 1860 he was hired as principal of the four-year-old New Danville Masonic Female Academy. He kept this school open though the war and the yellow fever epidemic that carried off his wife and many of his students in 1864. In 1873 Alexander, the academy, and most of the population of New Danville moved to the new railroad town of Kilgore, where the academy reopened as a coeducation facility named Alexander Institute under the sponsorship of the local Methodist congregation. Alexander remained as principal when the school, which later became Lon Morris College, was turned over to the East Texas Conference in 1875. In 1888 his home burned. In 1890 he resigned as president of the institute (though he remained a member of its board until his death) and moved once more to Henderson. There he married Mrs. Margaret Lockens. Two children were born to them. At Henderson, Alexander taught for four years before entering the full-time pastorate. In 1908 he became a superannuate preacher and associate editor of the Rusk County News. In 1911 he became chaplain of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (later Texas A&M University), where he also taught history. He died on June 5, 1919. See also EDUCATION.

Glendell A. Jones, Jr., Mid the Pine Hills of East Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Progress, 1973).

  • Education
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Religion
  • Methodist
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • East Texas
  • East Central Texas
  • Tyler

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Connie Snodgrass, “Alexander, Isaac,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

August 31, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: