Alexander D. McGowan, businessman and civic leader, was born in Duplin County, North Carolina, on July 5, 1817. After being orphaned, he lived with his foster parents in Montgomery, Alabama, for a time before coming to Texas in September 1839. He settled in Houston, where he opened a tin shop and later a hardware store and foundry. He defeated David G. Burnet to serve as Harris County representative at the Convention of 1845. McGowan was mayor of Houston in 1858 and 1867, became alderman, tax assessor, chief justice, and county treasurer of Harris County, and was a strong supporter of the public school system. He was a trustee of the Methodist Church and a member of the Odd Fellows. In 1841 he married Sarah Christopher, and they had eight children. In 1875 he married Florence Abbey, and they had one son. McGowan died in Houston on December 26, 1893, and was buried in the cemetery at San Felipe de Austin.