Patriarch and Matriarch of 400+ Descendants: Charles and Nancy Alexander
More than 400 descendants of Charles and Nancy have been documented. Both Charles and Nancy were born in St. Louis Missouri as free blacks; they married in Springfield, Illinois on December 25, 1849. Charles was a carpenter who built and ran a grist mill in St. Louis. In the spring of 1857 they decided to leave Missouri and travel west to the gold fields of California by way of the Oregon Trail. Charles worked in the gold fields but was not very successful. On July 1, 1858, Charles and Nancy boarded the ship “Oregon” to Fort Victoria.
Charles headed for the Fraser River gold mines, was successful, and the family then established a home and farm in South Saanich. Charles helped to build the first school in South Saanich and was a trustee; and in 1862, Charles initiated and assisted in the building of the first Shady Creek Church and was one of its first preachers.
The Alexanders were an integral part of the community. Saanich Agricultural Fair Reports in the Daily Colonist (6-Oct-1875) lists Charles Alexander winning 1st prize for best two year old heifer, 2nd prize for draught horses, 16 hands and over, and a prize for long carrots.
In 1894, the Alexanders moved ‘into town’. They again established themselves as pillars of the community; Nancy was one of the first ladies to join Lake Hill Women’s Institute. Nancy died March 23, 1912 at age 78 and Charles on January 31, 1913 at age 89.
In July 1995 the Alexander family gathered for a reunion in Victoria. “Victoria’s Alexanders: Pioneering Black family back for reunion. Over 200 descendants of one of Victoria’s oldest and most successful pioneer families are coming from all across Canada and the United States.” Today more than 100 descendants of the Alexander family still live in the area today.
One of these descendants is a great grandson, James Douglas “Doug” Hudlin. Doug was a founding member of the BC Black History Awareness Society, but his passion was baseball. Doug umpired Little League and Senior championship games in Canada and the United States from 1966 to 1988. He was inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, Umpires Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Another direct descendant and a life-time member of the BC Black History Awareness Society is Karen Hoshal. In this video Karen tells Charles and Nancy’s story and shows us Nancy’s custom made 60th wedding anniversary dress. The interview takes place at the church that is a replica of the church that was built by Charles and other members of the Black community.
“I’m a direct descendant of Charles and Nancy Alexander” (captions available in both French and English). View this video with an English transcript.
In February 2011 “The Story of Charles and Nancy Alexander, as told by descendent Doug Hudlin” was recorded in February 2011 by Dale Hitchcox, a member of the BC Black History Awareness Society;
Karen Hoshal, great granddaughter: Interview at Shady Creek Church on June 7, 2019. (Video);
Richard Watts “Victoria’s Alexanders: Pioneering Black family back for reunion” Times Colonist July 15, 1995 C8.