Alexander/Crawford History

Town News

By John Dudley & Cassie Oakes

Did you know that the census records for 1820, 1830 and 1840 give only the names of heads of households who were, with rare exception, male?  The census starting in 1850 lists names and ages of all and where each was born.  Those here in 1850 were mostly born in Maine or the maritime provinces.  Vital Records of Alexander lists families from ca 1823 to ca 1895.  Some of these entries list places of birth.  We will use both sources in the following:

You may be reading this on Saint Patrick’s Day, a feast day and holiday in Ireland.  Saint Patrick’s Day had been observed in America since March 17, 1837.  That is the day that Irish Protestants in Boston created a benevolent group called the Charitable Irish Society.  The group was to aid Irish immigrants.

The first Irishman known to settle in Alexander was John Moore who appears on our 1820 census.  He married in 1824, raised a family, died and was buried on his 20-acre farm in 1852.  Hugh Griffin arrived in the 1830s and lived here and in Milltown.  Was he a mill worker?  Over time he owned several lots in Alexander.  He was married a couple times and was buried in Calais after 1880.

John Gihn and family came here ca 1833.  The parents were dead by 1849 and the family gone. His gravestone is near the woods at our cemetery.  John Acheson and James Morrison arrived ca 1837 with families.  They were not on the 1840 census.  Thomas Joy and his family probably arrived and left between 1840 and 1850.

By 1850, Alexander was home to six Irish families; that is six of 77 family groups.  Four of these families were new in America and may have come here because of the famine in Ireland.  The potato crop failed several years in a row in the late 1840s and these immigrants were sometimes called “potato Irish.”  They were Timothy Ahern on South Princeton Road, maybe on land owned by Hugh Griffin, Robert Ellis, Hugh Robb on Robb Hill and John Crowley on Breakneck.

Robert Ellis (48) and Catherine Obrien (18) are listed together on the census.  This is the only record we have of them.  They may have been laborers for Almeda Townsend.  This record may reflect on their journey from the starving times on a crowded boat.


Michael McGowen, James Blaney, James Foley, John McLaughlin, Patrick Cotter and Thomas Carter arrived here between 1850 and 1890.  Do you have Irish ancestors?  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!