Alexander Lindsay                         Mini Bio


Alexander Lindsay

Alexander Lindsay was of royal Scottish decent but his family had immigrated to Ireland several generations before he was born.  They were Presbyterians who resettled into Northern Ireland where they owned a small farm.  Alex was born on Aug. 19th, 1856, at Ballintaggert, near Portadown in County Armaugh, Ireland.  Unfortunately, both of his parents died by the time he was ten years old.  He was raised by his oldest brother, William.  This brother was an officer in the British army and he took Alex with him to the various military posts where he was assigned.  These included, New Brunswick in Canada as well as a tour in the West Indies in the Caribbean. 

At age sixteen, Alex joined the army and was assigned to a post in central England, where he met and fell in love with Mary Keysell.  She too was an orphan and that may have created a kinship between them.  Alex was called away to fight in the Ashanti War in West Africa but upon his discharge, he returned to Cleobury, Mortimer (near Kidderminster) England and married Mary Keysell on Nov. 23, 1876.

They first settled on the little farm that Alex and his brother inherited, near Portadown, Ireland.  Here their first child, Keysell Lindsay was born.  The young family realized though that this farm could not support two families, and out of gratitude for raising him, Alex deeded his half over to his older brother and decided to make a new life for his young family somewhere far away.

At that time, England had recently suppressed the uprisings of the cannibalistic Maoris in New Zealand.  The government was offering homestead lands for any families who would agree to resettle there.  The adventurous Alex, Mary and their six-week old baby realized that this was an opportunity for them and they embarked on a sailing ship for the new world.  The trip took them south, around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and then eastward around Australia.  For 84 days, they only saw land once and Mary was sick almost every day of the trip.

In New Zealand, the Lindsays went first to Auckland and then to Otanga East where several of their children were born, including their third child and oldest daughter, Annie Helen “Nellie” Lindsay.  Eventually, they resettled in the Rama Rama Valley at a place that became known as Towai, in the Bay of Islands.  Here they owned 640 acres where they built up a large dairy farm.

The Lindsays were prominent in the community with Alex serving on the school board and the boys were the outstanding athletes on the local football (rugby) team.  Nellie was also a champion in racing horses and the family seemed to be enjoying a successful life among their neighbors.

In 1896, some Mormon Elders came through the area sharing the gospel with anyone who would listen.  No one would.  The Lindsays didn’t think they wanted to listen either, but they were very hospitable and invited the Elders to their home for dinner and to hear what they had to say.  Some of the Lindsays joined the new church in 1897 and others came along between then and 1899.  Eventually the whole family had joined the church but they were about the only members in their community.  Sunday School was held in their home with Father Lindsay conducting and teaching his own family.

By 1903 the family was getting old enough that Alex knew his children would begin selecting their mates soon.  He decided to sell his beautiful farm in New Zealand and take his family to America, or Canada where they could be closer to other LDS members.  He still remembered how beautiful it was when he lived in Canada as a young boy and thought they would head in that direction, but somehow, a real estate brochure reached him in New Zealand.  It told of a lovely place called the Grande Ronde Valley in eastern Oregon.  The description sounded wonderful and they decided to travel through that valley on their way to Canada to see if it really looked as nice as it sounded.  They did, and it did.  Alex bought a ranch in the hills about eight miles west of LaGrande where they built up a heard of dairy cows and made butter to sell in town.

In 1904, they had only been at their new home for about one year, when Alex was called to leave his wife and twelve children to serve a mission for the LDS Church in the British Isles.  He spent the first year of his mission in Northern Ireland, where he tried to share the gospel with his older brother and siblings, and the other residents of the area.  He baptized a sister and a few others but could not convince his brother of the truthfulness of the gospel.  The second year of his mission was spent in England near his wife’s relatives where he was able to baptize his sister-in-law and a few other neighbors.

After returning to LaGrande, he found that his children had built a beautiful home on the ranch for him and Mary and they had been able to keep it a secret to surprise him on his arrival.  Alex and Mary spent the rest of their lives in the LaGrande area where he was such a prolific missionary that he was known around the valley as “Preacher Lindsay”. 

Alexander Lindsay passed away in LaGrande on Dec. 16, 1930 and his wife, Mary Keysell Lindsay died there on March 8, 1936.  Both lie buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery in LaGrande near several of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.