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Ralston, Alexander

In the Indiana "Journal" of January 9, 1827, I find the obituary notice of Mr. Ralston, the surveyor that laid out Indianapolis.

"Died in this place on Friday, the 5th instant, Alexander Ralston, Esq., aged fifty-six years."  Mr. R. was a native of Scotland, but emigrated early in life to America.  He lived many years at the city of Washington, then at Louisville, Kentucky, afterwards near Salem, in this State, and for the last five years in this place.  His earliest and latest occupation in the United States was surveying, in which he was long employed by the Government at Washington, and his removal to this place was occasioned by his appointment to make the original survey of it.  During the intervening period merchandise and agriculture engaged his attention.

"In the latter part of his life he was our county surveyor, and his leisure time was employed in attending to a neat garden, in which various useful and ornamental plants, fruit, etc., were carefully cultivated.  Mr. Ralston was successful in his profession, honest in his dealings, gentlemanly in his deportment, a liberal and hospitable citizen, and a sincere and ardent friend.  He had experienced much both of the pleasures and pains incident to human life.  The respect and esteem of the generous and good were always awarded to him, and he found constant satisfaction in conferring favors, not only on his own species, but even on the humblest of the brute creation.  He would not willingly set foot upon a worm.  But his unsuspecting nature made him liable to imposition.  His sanguine expectations were often disappointed; his independent spirit sometimes provoked opposition, and his extreme sensibility was frequently put to the severest trials.  Though he stood alone among us in respect to family, his loss will be long lamented."

As has been intimated by the "Journal," he was an old bachelor.  He had a colored woman named Chany Lively, as a house-keeper.  She was the second colored person to live in this place.  The first was a boy, brought by Dr. Mitchell, named Ephraim Ensaw.

Some years after Mr. Ralston's death, Chany married a well-known colored barber named John Britton, who yet lives here, and is one of our most respectable colored citizens.

Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 94-95.