Alexander Memorial Library, originally the La
Salle County Library, began as a subscription library in 1937 in a room
at the La Salle County Courthouse with 100 books borrowed from the
State Library. It is because of the efforts of the Woman's Club of
Cotulla that the library was started, and they have continued to be
avid supporters of the library throughout the years. Today, the library
is a beautiful 5,600 square foot building that houses over 20,000
books, videos, audio books, and music CDs for public use.
Alexander Memorial Library was built in 1973, thanks to the generous
donation of Mr. & Mrs. A. B. "Ben" Alexander, who built it in
memory of his parents. It now serves to memorialize the late Ben and
Ida Alexander as well. The Alexander Trust Fund donated two other
substantial gifts that allowed the library to add on to the children's
area and meeting room, which created a computer lab, a genealogy room,
office, kitchen, and handicapped accessible facilities. The library
added new shelving for its expanding collection, new carpeting and a
wall-mounted book drop for patrons' convenience.
The children's area, called Alexander Ranch, is dedicated to Ben and
Ida Alexander. A Children's Area Book Housefarmhouse, barn,
fence, and windmill hold the colorful picture books for young readers.
Clouds fly overhead while a book tree and rolling pasture grace the
Mr. Ben was born on March 9, 1893, in Round Rock, Texas. He attended
school in La Porte until the age of fourteen when he attended Peacock
Military School in San Antonio until his graduation from high school.
He returned home to La Porte where he met and began dating Miss Ida O.
In late 1912 or early 1913, Mr. Ben went to work for the same company
his father worked for: Lykes Brothers, Inc. where he learned the
shipping, cattle and ranching business. In 1913 he traveled to Cuba for
Lykes and worked on the company's ranches. After only a few years he
was running the Camaqueyn Ranch.
On June 4, 1918 Mr. Ben married Miss Ida in Havana, Cuba. The
Alexanders returned to the United States when Mr. Ben was drafted into
the Army on August 30, 1918. He was stationed at Camp Travis in San
Antonio until he was honorably discharged in the summer of 1919,
returning to Cuba for four more years.
Back in La Porte, Mr. Ben started buying cattle and horses for Lykes
Bros. to ship to Cuba and other parts of the world. His dream to own
his own land came true in 1925 when he bought land in La Salle County.
He raised Santa Gertrudis cattle, a deep, red-colored breed that
originally started on the historic King Ranch near Kingsville, Texas.
In 1940 the United States Department of Agriculture recognized the
Santa Gertrudis as a purebred. Today there are thousands of Santa
Gertrudis herds, each having to pass strict requirements in order to
keep the breed pure. In Volume I of the Santa Gertrudis Herd Book are
the first 283 herds recorded. Mr. Ben's herd was #78, making him one of
the first ranchers to raise Santa Gertrudis cattle.
Mrs. Ida was a very accomplished pianist who taught piano lessons most
of her life. She loved classical music and the opera, and the library
has added some special music books to honor her memory and her love of
Mr. Ben became a member of the Methodist Church in 1959. He and Mrs.
Ida were very generous in giving money to the churches in the
community, and became known for their many other contributions in
Cotulla. The Alexanders donated land for the American Legion Post and
rodeo arena, and later, funds to build a new library in 1973.
Mrs. Ida Alexander passed away November 21, 1977, and Mr. Ben followed
on May 22, 1984 at the age of 91. They left a legacy to our community
in the form of a trust fund, and the Alexanders' tremendous support
continued through the years under the guidance of a close friend,
Walter Bielstein of San Antonio. The La Salle County Fair Association
received land and money for improvements and the construction of
buildings at the fair grounds. The City of Cotulla received funds to
create the A.B. Alexander Convention Center, and the La Salle County
Youth Rodeo Association received funds to help build one of the finest
rodeo arenas in South Texas.
Cotulla is definitely a better place because of Mr. Ben and Mrs. Ida
Alexander, and the community will forever appreciate their generous
hearts as well as Walter Bielstein's commitment to preserving their
memory by supporting worthwhile projects in Cotulla and La Salle