John McKnitt Alexander (1733 - 7/10/1817)
John McKnitt Alexander was one of the original signers of the Meckenburg Declaration of Independence.
He is probably one of the most famous signers. Born in Maryland, his came to Mecklenburg County with some siblings. His brother, Hezekiah, built a home that is reportedly one of the oldest homes in the county. When he arrived, he settled in the Hopewell section (north) of Mecklenburg County, before it was established in 1762. After arriving he left the occupation of tailor and became a surveyor. He acquired large tracts of land, many of which are now in other counties. His property may have been as large as ten miles square. He was a member of Hopewell Presbyterian Church and served as the treasurer for the Presbyterian Synod, which included what is now North and South Carolina.
When he was summoned to Salisbury to serve on a jury, he declined and was forced and fined by the sheriff to serve as a juror. When the British soldiers invaded Charlotte, he ordered his supplies be destroyed, rather than have them fall into the hands of the enemy. He served as Mecklenburg’s Register of Deeds from 1788 to 1792. After the Revolutionary War, he served as a member of the State Senate, the House of Commons and the convention that formed the North Carolina State Constitution.
He reportedly was the secretary of the convention where the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was adopted. This duty made him the custodian of the original document. Richard Barry, Sr., a neighbor and fellow signer, was named an executor of his will. When John died, he was one of the largest landowners in the county.
Two of his daughters married Presbyterian ministers. He sent his oldest son, Joseph McKnitt, to get an education at what is now Princeton University.
King, Victor C. Lives and Times of the 27 Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 20, 1775. Charlotte, NC, 1956.