Alexander C. Tompkins

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Alexander C. Tompkins, member of the legislature from Daviess County and an extensive dealer in tobacco of Owensboro, is a native of Virginia and a descendant of a distinguished and honored family of that state. He is a son of William W. and Frances Samuellor (Pendleton) Tompkins, and was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, February 28, 1840.

His father, William W. Tompkins, was born in Bedford County, Virginia, in 1812. After attending excellent private schools in Charlottesville, he was elected county clerk of Albemarle County, which office he held for several years. During the Civil war he served the Confederacy in the commissary department, and died April 5, 1865, a few days before the surrender of General Lee. He married Frances Samuellor Pendleton, daughter of Henry Pendleton, and was the father of five children: Henry Pendleton, Alexander C, John N., Frederick Windon and Joseph B. Tompkins.

Dr. John Tompkins (grandfather) was educated in Bedford County, Virginia, and was a practicing physician in that county. Flis wife was a Miss Montgomery of Nelson County, Virginia.

Henry Pendleton (maternal grandfather) was a native of Louisa County, Virginia, and owned a large plantation in that county, and was one of the most popular and highly respected citizens.

Alexander C. Tompkins was educated in Charlottesville and in the Albemarle Military Institute, in which he spent two years, finishing his schooling at the age of eighteen years. He gave his attention to farming for a while before coming to Henderson, Kentucky, in 1859, where he was similarly engaged until in the Spring of 1862, when he returned to Virginia and enlisted in the Twenty-third Regiment Virginia Infantry, in which he served as a sergeant under General Robert E. Lee and took an active part in all of the engagements in Virginia, including the battles of Kernstown, Cross Keys, Port Republic, seven days’ battle around Richmond, the second battle of Manassas, the taking of Harper’s Ferry and the battle of Antietam. He was transferred to the

Second Regiment Virginia Cavalry, commanded by General Fitzhugh Lee, having been promoted to lieutenant. In this regiment he took part in the engagements at Kelly’s Ford, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and was in a number of battles in the vicinity of Richmond and Petersburg. At Appomattox Court House his regiment cut its way through the lines of the opposing army, and reaching Lynchburg, disbanded April 10, 1865. After the war was over, he resumed his former occupation of a farmer in Nelson County, Virginia; and subsequently returned to Henderson, Kentucky, and engaged in farming in that county until March, 1867, when he removed to Daviess County, where he owned a large tract of farming land, which he cultivated mostly in tobacco, and on which he built a large stemmery and prepared tobacco for the European market.

In 1876 he removed to Owensboro and engaged in dealing in tobacco on an extensive scale, which proved a fortunate venture and resulted in the establishment of his present large stemmery, which he has conducted with unvarying success. Mr. Tompkins is one of the most popular business men in Owensboro; of a warm social nature, liberal in his views and charitable towards others; generous and public spirited in all matters concerning the city’s advancement; fond of his home; devoted to his church and a hustler in business and politics.

Strictly speaking, he is not a politician, but his personal popularity and his splendid business qualifications have led him into official positions, rather against his inclinations, and certainly to the detriment of his personal business. In 1882-4 he served as a member of the City Council, and he has been a member of the School Board for eight years. In 1893 he was elected to the legislature by the Democratic Party; was re-elected in 1895, and is the present able representative from Daviess County.

Mr. Tompkins was married June 12, 1868, to Elizabeth Mary Venable, daughter of Samuel Lewis and Virginia (Bransford) Venable; she was born November 29, 1844, received a superior education, and is one of the most refined and highly cultured ladies in Owensboro society. Mr. and Mrs. Tompkins are members of the Presbyterian Church, and in the work of the church they are no less active than he is in the world of politics and business.

Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896. Courtesy of the Daviess County Bicentennial Committee