Alexander William Doniphan

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Alexander William Doniphan

Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Mason Co., KY
Death: August 8, 1887 (79)
Richmond, MO
Place of Burial: Fairview Cemetery Liberty Clay County Missouri
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Doniphan and Anne Fowke Doniphan
Husband of Elizabeth Jane Doniphan
Father of John Thornton Doniphan and Alexander William Doniphan, Jr
Brother of Mary Ann Keith; Thomas Smith Doniphan; George Doniphan; Margaret Doniphan; Susan Mountjoy Frazee and 6 others

Occupation: Between 1868 and 1887
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Alexander William Doniphan

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...Alexander William Doniphan (July 9, 1808 – August 8, 1887) was a 19th-century American attorney, soldier and politician from Missouri who is best known today as the man who prevented the summary execution of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Jr. at the close of the 1838 Mormon War in that state. He also achieved renown as a leader of American troops during the Mexican–American War, as the author of a legal code that still forms the basis of New Mexico's Bill of Rights, and as a successful defense attorney in the Missouri towns of Liberty, Richmond and Independence..."

"...Doniphan was born near the town of Maysville, Kentucky, in Mason County, Kentucky, near the Ohio River. He was the youngest of the ten children of Joseph and Anne Fowke (Smith) Doniphan, both natives of Virginia. His father had been a friend of Daniel Boone, and both of his grandfathers had fought in the American Revolution..."

"...Doniphan married Elizabeth Jane Thornton (December 21, 1820–July 19, 1873) on December 21, 1837, in Liberty, Missouri. Her father was a colleague of Doniphan's in the state legislature. Their wedding was on her 17th birthday, and it was a double-wedding ceremony, with Elizabeth's sister Caroline and Oliver P. Moss being married at the same time. Elizabeth became sickly in the 1850s, and during the burial of her son John she suffered a stroke, which left her a semi-invalid for the remainder of her life. Elizabeth died in New York City of hemorrhaging of the lungs.

The couple had two sons, John Thornton (September 18, 1838–May 9, 1853) and Alexander William, Jr. (September 10, 1840–May 11, 1858),neither of whom lived to age 18. John Thornton Doniphan died from accidental poisoning: while visiting his uncle James Baldwin, he sought relief for a toothache in the middle of the night but mistakenly took corrosive sublimate (mercury chloride), thinking that it was Epsom salts. Alexander William Doniphan, Jr. died while attending Bethany College, in Bethany, West Virginia, when he drowned in a flood-swollen river..."

"...In the late 1860s, Doniphan re-opened his law office in Richmond, Missouri, where he died at the age of 79. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Liberty under an obelisk..."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Alexander William Doniphan', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 October 2011, 18:25 UTC, <> [accessed 5 November 2011]

  • Military service: Commander of the 1st Brigade, Missouri
  • Residence: Lexington, MO - Between 1830 and 1833
  • Residence: Liberty, MO - Between 1833 and 1887
  • Military service: May 1846 - Organized 1st Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers for Mexican War
  • Residence: St. Louis, MO - Between 1863 and 1868
  • Residence: Richmond, MO - Between 1868 and 1887

Colonel and General in the Missouri Militia. Instrumental in the Platte purchase, which added to Missouri's land. He refused an order to execute Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saints Church, saying it would be cold blooded murder. He also refused appointed posts in both the Union and Confederate armies saying that he wanted to remain out of the war between the states and hoped that Missouri would remain neutral. Inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame for his military exploits.

Alexander Doniphan is known for his political, military and educational accomplishments. Recognized as one of the founders of William Jewell College, he was a strong supporter of many educational endeavors. In addition, he was a trustee of a number of early schools and became the first Clay County School Commissioner in 1853.

In 1836, while serving as a Missouri state legislator, Doniphan organized Caldwell and Daviess counties as a home for the Mormons. Two years later, he was ordered to execute Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He refused, saving the life of Joseph Smith and other church leaders, and securing his place in history as a courageous and compassionate man.

Doniphan’s accomplishments also include helping facilitate the Platte Purchase from American Indian tribes in 1837, which added northwest counties to Missouri. He also served as colonel of the 1st Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers during the Mexican-American War and led volunteers on a 3,600-mile march.

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Alexander William Doniphan's Timeline

July 8, 1808
Mason Co., KY
September 18, 1838
Age 30
Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, United States
September 10, 1840
Age 32
Clay, Adair County, Missouri, United States
August 8, 1887
Age 79
Richmond, MO
Fairview Cemetery Liberty Clay County Missouri