Charles Edward Alexander (10 Sep. 1826-8 Jul. 1855)

Charles Edward Alexander has a tombstone in the “Alexander Graveyard” in Rustburg, Campbell County, Virginia. ( The inscription reads:

Charles E. Alexander,
Sept. 10, 1826
Died July 8, 1855
in the Town of Jacksonville,
Oregon Territory

There is also a record of him being buried in the Jacksonville Cemetery, Jackson County, Oregon. I do not know which “burial place” is the actual location of his remains. ( 

His parents were John B. Alexander (1782-1838), who was Clerk of the County Court and the Circuit Courts of Campbell County, and his wife, Sarah Lewis Cobb (1791-1859). Charles Alexander attended the University of Virginia in session 22 (1845-1846) where he studied chemistry, medicine, and anatomy & surgery. Charles then attended the Medical Department at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with an M.D. in 1847. (Richmond Enquirer, 13 Apr. 1847; Catalogue of the Alumni of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, 1765-1877)

Dr. Alexander was in the Oregon Territory by 7 March 1853, when he was appointed clerk of the commissioners who were to organize the government of the newly formed (1852) Jackson County, OR. On 4 April 1853, the first meeting of the commissioners, the first order of business was to accept the resignation of Dr. Alexander as clerk, and to appoint a new clerk.

When I first started researching Charles Alexander’s history, I discovered that the early 1850s was a period of great unrest among the native people of the Jackson County, Oregon area, who were called the Rogue River Indians. Gold had been discovered in the Rogue River Valley in 1851, and the area was filling with Easterners with their eyes on riches. Was that why Dr. Alexander died at a young age? But then I found that the major skirmishes between Easterners and Native Americans in this area occurred between October 1855 and May 1856, too late for it to be likely that he was a casualty of that war. (Watson, 1924)

Finally, I located the story. There was a race meeting in Jacksonville, in Jackson County, in early July, 1855, and Dr. Alexander raced his horses in this meet. Another owner who had horses running in the races was a man named Simeon “Sim” Oldham. Oldham was from Yreka, in northern California, and was a deadly shot.

Oldham “was as handsome and as polite and tidy as you can fancy.… He had already nine notches on his gun when he went over to the Jacksonville races with his string of horses. Here the tall, handsome gunfighter took umbrage at Dr. Alexander, a leading citizen, and the doctor, seeing unusual ferocity in the eyes of Oldham, stepped behind his best horse, hoping to escape. Oldham quietly shot the horse down and then, leering and laughing at Alexander as he stood there helpless, sent a six-shooter bullet through the heart of his tenth victim.” (Miller, p.2) Other accounts suggest that Oldham was intoxicated at the time he shot Alexander. (“Thou Shalt Not Kill”)

Oldham was acquitted at his trial. While he lived for almost 10 years after this encounter, Sim Oldham was shot dead in his turn on 12 March 1864, by a young man named Joseph Rolls (or Rawls), at Ruby City, Idaho, near Boise. (Boise News)


Alexander, Charles E. tombstone, Virginia.

Alexander, Charles, cemetery records, Jacksonville, OR.

Jacksonville Cemetery, Jacksonville, Jackson County, Oregon.”

Miller, Joaquin. “Tales of bad men and Frontiersmen. I. some famous gun-fighters.” Pacific Monthly, Jan. 1908, v.19, no.1, p.1-10.

“More Doctors.” Richmond Enquirer 13 Apr 1847, p.1.

“Sim Oldham killed by Jos. Rolls at Ruby City, Owyhee Mines [Idaho], on the 12th of March, 1864.” Boise News, March 26, 1864, p.2.

Society of the Alumni of the Medical Department. Catalogue of the Alumni of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, 1765-1877. Philadelphia, Collins, Printer, 1877, p.2.

“Thou Shalt Not Kill,” Evening Capital News, Boise, Idaho, December 7, 1907, p. 10.

Watson, C. B. South Oregon History, up to 1853. (Revised), 1924, chapters 5 & 8.

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