As people in the rural areas found needs for cash, they turned to business opportunities that were home based or natural resource based. We will examine how people of Alexander earned cash to satisfy their wants and needs. Much of the information in these articles is from the Annual Report of Maine, with some additional material from census records and the 1881 Atlas by George Colby.
The Maine Reports, sometimes called Maine Registers or Maine State Year-books list merchants, manufacturers, hotels, and associations. Almost every person discussed in this article was active in farming. Farming provided each family with its needs, ie. food, fuel, fiber for clothing, and lumber for buildings. Cash was for those wants that the farm could not supply such as a cast iron cook stove, factory made cloth, pots and pans.
John K. Thistlewood was the earliest listed manufacturer in this town. He made wagons and sleighs, likely at a building on his farm at the north end of the McArthur Road.
Michael Brown was making carriages by the mid 70's at his farm north of the Spearin Road.
Sawing of lumber was done most often on a custom sawing or special order basis. The only mill operating in the nineteenth century was John W. Dwelley mill at the foot of Dwelleys' Lake (Pleasant Lake). It was sawing before 1870, and continued into the middle part of this century.
Blacksmiths were the men who shaped the iron into needed tools for farming and lumbering.
Benjamin Strout was listed as a smith from 1874 until after 1886. He lived on the Airline at the corner of the Thistle wood Road (McArthur Road). His farm served as a stage coach stop for years.
Joseph McLain was a smith in 1880 at the Townsend Place.
Fred Brown and Charles Hunnewell were smiths and wheelwrights well into the 20th century. Wheelwrights could build wheels of wood and then put the iron rim onto it to give it a longer life. This is not an easy job according to present day smiths. Hunnewell lived on the South Princeton Road and later at the Four Corners on the Airline.
Oren Hunnewell and Walter Henderson were blacksmiths during the first half of the 20th century. By 1922 a new occupation appeared, auto mechanic. Edward Niles and Leigh Dwelley repaired cars; of course blacksmith did the same.
E. A. Strout was a smith in 1875.