Among the highly influential bankers of California may well be named Elmer P. Alexander, the genial president of the popular Salinas City Bank, with its attractive headquarters at the corner of Main and Gobilan streets. Mr. Alexander was born in Sacramento, June 15, 1871, the son of John K. and Sallie B. (Carothers) Alexander, the former a native of Mississippi, the latter of Illinois; Mr. Alexander having come to California by way of the Isthmus, and Mrs. Alexander by the great trackless plains. John K. Alexander, born at Brandon, Rankin county, Mississippi, in 1839, was reared at Jackson, that state, until he was fifteen and in 1854 accompanied his mother, brother and sister to California, where they were met by Grandfather Alexander, who had come out to the Golden state in 1849.
John K. Alexander attended the Sacramento grammar school and in 1857 began work in a gold-quartz mine in Calaveras county. He returned to Sacramento and attended the high school, from which he was graduated in 1860, and then studied law in Sacramento in the office of George R. Moore, later associating himself with Messrs. Harrison & Estee. On October 7, 1862, he was advanced to the practice of law and in 1863 formed a partnership with George R. Moore, while later he entered into partnership with the Hon. John W. Armstrong, superior judge of Sacramento county. In 1870 Mr. Alexander was elected district attorney of Sacramento county and in 1874 he came to Salinas for the practice of law. As a democrat, he was elected superior judge of Monterey county in 1879 and reelected in 1884, serving eleven years on the bench in Monterey county. He was a member of the San Francisco Bar Association and president of the Monterey Bar Association, while in financial circles he was known as the vice president of the First National Bank of Salinas and of the Salinas Valley Savings Bank. On August 2, 1865, he was married to Miss Sallie B. Carothers, and their union was blessed with three children—two sons and a daughter. He was a past master in Salinas Lodge, No. 204, F. & A. M.; past high priest of Salinas chapter, No. 59, R. A. M.; past patron of Revielle Chapter, No. 47, 0. E. S., and a member of the Masonic Veterans Association.
His son, Elmer P. Alexander, attended the Salinas grammar and high schools, and also went to Cogswell’s Polytechnic School, in San Francisco, and the Van Denaling School of Engineering in the same city. Then he worked for Faw & Edwards, in Gonzales, where they operated the Salinas Valley Warehouse Association, and later was agent for the Southern Pacific Milling Company at Chualar, in Monterey county. He was then appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Charles Westlake as tax collector of Monterey county, and afterward was twice elected to the office. When he resigned, it was to accept a position in the Salinas City Bank, at the urgent request of President J. H. McDougall—his first connection with that institution being white work was slack in the tax collector’s office; and the first money paid him by the bank was the princely sum of five dollars, given him for special work, while his first salary was thirty-five dollars a month for part-time work. In 1903, however, he entered the bank as a regular employee and has since worked his way up to the high office of president, having been elected assistant cashier on January 1, 1907; cashier, on April 11. 1908, and president in March, 1924. The Salinas City Bank is the oldest bank in Monterey county, having opened its doors for business June 3, 1873. It was organized by a number of prominent men of Salinas and Gilroy, among them some of the pioneers of the valley—Jessie D. Carr, William Vanderhurst, A. B. Jackson, Thomas Rea, Z. Herbert, J. P. Sargent, and James H. Ellis. J. J. Bowen, of Gilroy, was the first secretary pro tern. Mr. Carr was the first president, Mr. Jackson the second, J. H. McDougall, the third, Harry Winham the fourth, while Mr. Alexander, our subject, is the present president. The original capital stock was two hundred thousand dollars and later this was increased to’ three hundred thousand dollars. Such has been the bank’s almost phenomenal prosperity, that, while the deposits in the bank on March 31, 1923, was two million, three hundred eighty thousand, three hundred ninety-six dollars and sixty-seven cents, those on March 31, 1924, were two million, six hundred ninety-six thousand, seven hundred thirty-four dollars and eighteen cents—the best kind of evidence of the bank’s steady growth.
Mr. Alexander was married to Miss Mabel E. Chestnut, a native of Olita, Amador county, and a member of a prominent mining family. Two children blessed this union : R. Carroll Alexander, now stage director of the Players Club of San Francisco, and Elinor M., an attractive maiden of fourteen summers. Mr. Alexander belongs to the Salinas Rotary Club and represented that model organization at the St. Louis meeting in 1923. He is a progressive and far-sighted business man and representative citizen, at all times generously supporting measures for the public good.
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.