Accessibility Navigation:

John B. Alexander Papers

Filing title: 
Alexander (John B.) Papers

John B. Alexander papers

Summary Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte
Alexander, J. B. (John Brevard), 1834
John B. Alexander papers
Date [inclusive]
2.0 Linear feet
Papers of a Mecklenburg County physician. Includes account books, medical journals, correspondence, memorabilia, and writings. Also documents his services as a surgeon in the 37th North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate Army, as well as his general interest in the Civil War.

Preferred Citation note

John B. Alexander Papers. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Return to Table of Contents »

Biographical/Historical note

John Brevard Alexander was born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., on May 27, 1834. He was the son of Robert Davidson Alexander and Abigail Bain Caldwell Alexander. He graduated from Davidson College with high honors in 1852 and from the Medical College of South Carolina at the top of his class in 1855. During the Civil War Alexander served as a sergeant and assistant surgeon in the thirty-seventh North Carolina Infantry, but he resigned on May 16, 1863 because of “a bilious attack” and “acute dysentery.” Later, on November 6, 1863, he was appointed surgeon in the Sixty-third Battalion of the North Carolina Militia for “home defence” [see North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, vol. 9 and folder 1:1]. Following the war, he returned to Mecklenburg County to resume his medical practice. He moved into Charlotte in 1890. Throughout his career he also managed a drugstore until health required him to retire in 1898. He married Annie Wall Lowrie on May 18, 1858. They had six children: Robert D. (d. 1901); Dixie (d. 1909); Annie Lowrie, M.D. (1864-1929), one of the first women from the South to be graduated from the Woman's Medical College in Philadelphia and the first woman to practice medicine in the South; Lucy (d. 1919); Samuel Lowrie (d. 1887); and James Houston, a farmer in Chatham County, NC. Alexander authored three books: Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlers of the Hopewell Section (1898); The History of Mecklenburg County from 1740 to 1900 (1902); and Reminiscences of the Past Sixty Years (1908). He also compiled a sketch of local church history, “Presbyterianism, How and Where It Was First Planted in Mecklenburg County.” He was an elder at Bethel Presbyterian Church, and after he moved to Charlotte, he became active in the First Presbyterian Church there. Alexander apparently served briefly as a justice of the peace in Charlotte (ca. 1895; see box 1, volume 5). He died in Charlotte on June 24, 1911 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

The collection is comprised of account books, journals, correspondence, memorabilia, and writings of John B. Alexander. One of the two medical journals includes detailed patient histories, primarily of women (1895-1905). Also includes Civil War-related materials, including correspondence, essays, and fictional writings.

Return to Table of Contents »

Arrangement note

The John B. Alexander Papers are organized into a single volume and folder title series.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte 2008

9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC, 28223

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gifts of Selby Daniels in 1995 and 2003. Some material was purchased from the estate of Selby Daniels in 2009.

Processing Information note

Processed by Jeff Forret, Joanna Goltzman and Robert A. McInnes, 2008.

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Alexander and Ramsey Family Papers, Mss 162; Dr. Annie L. Alexander Papers, Mss 247.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 37th.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Lemley (N.C. : Township)
  • Mecklenburg County (N.C.)
  • North Carolina--Civil War, 1861-1865

Personal Name(s)

  • Alexander, J. B. (John Brevard), 1834


  • Medical care--North Carolina--History--19th century
  • Physicians--North Carolina--History--19th century

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Account Books/Ledgers/Assorted Volumes   8.0 Albums

Box Volume

General Account Books 1868-1869, 1889-1907 

Scope and Contents note

Volume 4 includes newspaper clippings pasted-in by Alexander (4 volumes)

1 1-4

Justices' Civil and Criminal Docket for the Justices of North Carolina 1895 

1 5

Medical Journals 1855-71, 1895-1905 

Oversize Volume

Medical Journal 

Box 2 6
Box Volume

Medical Journal 

Scope and Contents note

Includes detailed patient histories, primarily of women; 15 pages of notes on menstrual disorders; and two pages with the heading "Chapter II" (apparently part of a story written by Alexander, remaining pages have been removed.

1 7
Box Volume

Sawmill Account Book 1883-1889 

1 8

Return to Table of Contents »

Box Folder

Civil War Documents 1862-1864 

Scope and Contents note

Includes J. B. Alexander's commission, furlough, and resignation papers; correspondence about the death of James B. Lowrie; and a medical report following a battle. Also includes appraisal and conscription papers for a slave named Mark, conscripted by the army to build fortifications in Halifax, owned by R. D. Alexander; and loyalty oath after the war.

1 1

Special orders, Adjutant and inspector General's Office 1862 July 14 

Appointment to Assistant Surgeon, 37th North Carolina Regiment 1862 November 18 

Scope and Contents note

Commission of Assistant Surgeon from the Confederate States of America, War Department, for Dr. J. B. Alexander. The document states that the President of the Confederate States of America has appointed Dr. J. B. Alexander as Assistant Surgeon of the 37th North Carolina Regiment, of the Provisional Army in the service of the Confederates States July 14, 1862. The commission document is signed by James A. Seddon, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va., dated Nov. 18, 1862.

Proclamation by Z. B. Vance 1862 

Scope and Contents note

A newspaper clipping containing a proclamation by Z.B. Vance, Governor of North Carolina. The proclamation is dated Sept. 18, 1862. Governor Vance states in his proclamation that he is aware that certain persons are using their influence to prevent obedience to the law of Congress, known as the Conscript Law, and that others are attempting to organize an open resistance to its execution, and that this is in direct violation of the law. His proclamation warns that all such persons desist from this unpatriotic and criminal conduct, and to cease to dissuade any of those who are willing to serve their country and to notify positively all persons contemplating an armed resistance to the law. Those willing committing the crime of treason according to the Constitution will not escape its penalties. At the end of the proclamation, Vance states that the law will be enforced. This proclamation was given under Governor Vance's hand and attested by the Great Seal of the state and done at the city of Raleigh, the 18th day of September, 1862. Written by the governor's private secretary, R. H. Battle, Jr

Commission as Surgeon, 63rd Battalion North Carolina Militia 1863 November 9 

Scope and Contents note

Commission from the state of North Carolina calling John Brevard Alexander to service as a surgeon for the 63rd Battalion of the North Carolina Militia.

Order for furlough 1862 November 24 

Scope and Contents note

Furlough orders for Dr. J. B. Alexander. This order is from Head Quarters Lane's Brigade, dated Nov. 24th 1862. The document is an order granting Dr. J.B. Alexander a furlough for 30 days. The reason for the furlough given in the order is related to the fact that Dr. Alexander's father is suffering from a cancerous affliction. The furlough is issued upon Gen. R. E. Lee's approval and that Dr. Alexander may leave his regiment for 30 days on these conditions. The furlough order is signed by James H. Lane, Brig. Gen. Comdr., 4th Brigade, A.P.Hill Light Div.

Special order, leave of absence 1862 November 24 

Scope and Contents note

A special order for Assistant Surgeon J. B. Alexander of the 37th N.C. Regt. for a leave of absence for 30 days, issued by Brig. General James H. Lane

Medical Review Board report 1863 January 29 

Scope and Contents note

This is a copy of a notice from the Office of the Army Medical Board, Army of N. Virginia to some unidentified person. Dated January 28, 1863, it read. "Sir, you are hereby informed that the Army Medical Board, before which you appeared for examination, have made a report favorable in your case." Signed with the obligatory "very respectfully and your obedient servant" it was sent on behalf of J. P. Smith, President of said Board. Copies were to be sent to Alexander, examiner for promotion, and also to Lafayette Guild, A.D.C.

Order to report after passing Army Medical Board 1863 February 15 

Scope and Contents note

From the Medical Director's Office, Army, North Virginia, February 15, 1863, came this brief correspondence to an unknown soldier, "Sir, You will report without delay to me in person, bringing with you the official notice of your having passed the Army Med. Board. This is necessary to prevent confusion in the records of this office." It was signed with the customary, " Very respectfully, your obedient servant," by "L. Guild, Surg. & Med Director, A N Va." This copy was sent to "Asst. Surg. J. B. Alexander, 37th N.C. Troops, A.P. Hill's Division."

Grant of leave of absence 1863 April 13 

Scope and Contents note

Leave of Absence for Dr. Alexander. Official military communique : "Head Quarters, Department of Northern Virginia, 13th April 1863. [extract.] Special Order n. 103. VII. Leaves of absence on Surgeon's certificates of disability are granted the following named officers: Surgeon J. B. Alexander, 37th N.C. Regt. for fifteen (15) days. by Command of Gen. Lee, W. H. Taylor, A.A. General." Post note indicates that a copy was sent to "Dr. Alexander thro' Gen'l Jackson."

Declaration of rank 1863 January 19 

Scope and Contents note

Official military communique: "C.S. War Department, Surgeon General's Office, Richmond. Apr.4, 1863. This is to certify that Dr. J. B. Alexander is a Medical Officer of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States, with the rank of Surgeon, to date, as such from the 19th January 1863." It was signed, "S. P. Moore, Surgeon General C.S. Army." A copy was directed to "Surgeon J. B. Alexander, 37th N.C. Regt., Care [of] General R. E. Lee, Comdg A. No. Va."

Promotion to surgeon 1863 February 20 

Scope and Contents note

Special Orders (Military orders) confirming the promotion of J. B. Alexander to Surgeon, it reads (in reasonably accurate transcription), "A favorable report of Asst. Surgeon J. B. Alexander (examined for promotion) having been received from the Army Medical Board, he will report to the Chf. Surgeon of Genl A. P. Hill's Division for duty with the 37 NC Regiment as Surgeon. By order of Genl Lee, L. Guild, Surg. & Med. Director A.N. Va." An official copy also went to J. W. Powell, Chf. Surgeon Div.

Resignation 1863 August 5 

Scope and Contents note

Resignation of J.B. Alexander from 37th Regt. NC. This is a "certified copy" of the document dated May 29, 1863 where John Withers, Asst. Adjt. Withers, by command of the Secretary of War, accepted the resignation of Dr. J. B. Alexander from the 37th Regiment N.C., Confederate Army. This note attesting to the fact was signed by D. W. Oakes, Adjutant of the 37th and signed on August 5, 1863. From the excerpt or extract of the original document, "Special Orders no. 128," the resignation was "accepted by the President [Jefferson Davis] to take effect" on 5/29/63.

Letter concerning effects of Lt. James Lowrie, deceased relative 1864 April 11 

Scope and Contents note

Written from Cowan's Ford, NC, April 14th, 1864, in reasonably accurate transcription, this reads, "Capt. Tate, Sir, In compliance with the wishes of the nearest relative of Lt. James B. Lowrie, deceased, I most respectfully request you to send Lt. Lowrie's meershaum [sic] pipe to me by the first opportunity. Everything of interest or value belonging to our gallant dead is certainly expected by their friends, to be returned to them by the earliest opportunity, and not appropriated by the friends in camp. I also wish to know if there is any money due Lt. Lowrie's estate; if so how much. A reply to this note of inquiry will much oblige me. Most respectfully your obd. servant, J. B. Alexander, Adm." (James. B. Lowrie, class of 1859 at Davidson College, was a 1st Lieutenant, 11th N.C. Co. H also F&S and Co. A. He was killed at Gettysburg, Pa., 1863)

Post-war Oath of Allegiance to the United States 1865 August 31 

Scope and Contents note

Also called an Oath of amnesty, it was used after the Civil War for Southerners to swear to. The oath was standard, the individual inserting his name and county. This is the oath sworn to by J. B. Alexander. "I, John B. Alexander, of Mecklenburg County, State of North Carolina, do solemnly swear or affirm, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. So help me God." Alexander signed the oath, it was "sworn and subscribed to this the 31th day of August, A.D., 1865, before A.M. Iver, J.P. It is hereby certified that the above is a true copy of the original oath taken and subscribed by ____________ (blank). A. M. Iver, J.P., H. P. Helper, J.P."

Newspaper clipping of the P. H. Sheridan report to U. S. Grant, Oct. 7, 1864 


Scope and Contents note

A letter by J. B. Alexander to a commanding officer on the 15th [month and year unknown]. The letter outlines a battle that took place in Virginia [specific place unknown] on the 13th [month and year unknown]. According to Alexander the enemy [Union soldiers] attacked about 10:00 on the 13th and we [Confederate soldiers] held them in check for 3 hours until the Confederate soldiers' ammunition was exhausted, and were losing their position. Gen. Laudens checked the enemy until more ammunition was issued and the Union soldiers fell back and the fighting ceased. Alexander also states that over 50 soldiers were wounded and he thinks 25 soldiers were killed on the field, he lists the names of some of the wounded and killed, and explains that those not on the list are all well and in good spirits.


Scope and Contents note

Includes correspondence written during the Civil War, with depictions of camp life; reports of troop health; and information on troop movements and exercises. Letters also reveal concerns about planting, harvesting and the magangement of slaves; the operations of the Alexander farm, and insights into husband and wife relationships during wartime and postwar/reconstruction era.

Box Folder

Correspondence 1860-1861 

1 2

Correspondence--Civil War 1862 

1 3

Correspondence--Civil War 1863 

1 4

Correspondence 1867-1910 

1 5

Correspondence undated 

1 6

Correspondence 1862, 1897 

Scope and Contents note


1 6b

Return to Table of Contents »

Box Folder

Financial 1843-1907 

Scope and Contents note

Includes store accounts, medical accounts, and records of tax payments.

1 7

History and Politics 1901-11, undated 

Scope and Contents note

Comprised of newspaper clippings (including articles and editorial letters by Alexander) and handwritten essays. These materials demonstrate Alexander's affinity for espousing the Lost Cause, as well as his general interest in history. Among the writings are two fictional war stories (n.d.) by Alexander. (see also oversize storage)

1 8

Legal 1852-1898 

Scope and Contents note

Includes a civil docket, criminal docket, records of court cases, and deeds.

1 9

Lowrie (Alexander), Annie Wall--Album 1853-1855   1.0 Albums

Scope and Contents note

Autograph album of Alexander's wife prior to their marriage in 1858. The majority of the entries are in the form of prose.

1 10

Lowrie, James B.--Workbook/Ledger 1870-1880   1.0 Albums

Scope and Contents note

This belonged to James B. Lowrie, who was Alexander's brother-in-law. Contains entries for British monarchs, calculus, translations,and dried plants. Also contains ledger entries.

1 11

Medical 1886-1888 

Scope and Contents note

Includes Alexander's writings about arthritis, birth, "insane Negroes" (this appeared in his Reminiscences of the Past Sixty Years) and histories of the medical profession. The latter includes his reflections upon the medical practice of a fifty year period.

1 13

Religion, Literature and Art-essays 1900-1907 

Scope and Contents note

Much of this material appears to be Alexander's writings for prayer meetings, which probably took place at his church, First Presbyterian.

1 14
Box Volume

Scrapbook circa 1888-1897 

Scope and Contents note

Primarily news clippings, (some adhered, some laid in) concerning reconstruction-era attitudes, etc. regarding the Confederacy and many of the articles were written by Alexander. Also, laid in, was an early color print on oil cloth, framable, “THE DOCTOR”, given as "COMPLEMENTS OF ARLINGTON CHEMICAL CO., MANUFACTURERS OF LIQUID PEPTONOIDS." The painting shows distraught parents and a doctor waiting at the bedside of a very sick child.

2 6
Box Folder item

Photograph--Capt. John Walker   1.0 Items

Scope and Contents note

Captain Walker lived from Feb. 22, 1801-Sept. 7, 1876.

P37 2 P218/1