There is not in Shelby County a professional or business man who possesses, to a greater degree, the unlimited confidence of every citizen than Alfred Major. In his professional and business experiences of more than forty years in this county, he has won and retained the friendship and respect of every one with whom he has had dealings or been associated with in any capacity. Men in every grade of society and station in life, place the most unbounded trust in his word, honor and integrity. The Majors originally came from Normandy, France, to England, with William the Conqueror, and the branch from which the subject of this sketch descended, settled in Scotland, two brothers of which afterward removed to Ireland, and located at Granard, in the county of Longford. Here Alfred's father, Stephen Major was born and educated, and after reaching manhood, purchased a commission in the British Army; he went with his regiment to the West India Islands, where the unhealthy climate so affected his constitution that he was compelled to retire from the service as a half-pay officer; he settled in Quorndon, Derbyshire, England, close to the city of Derby, where he was married to Miss Harriet Bigsby of Quorndon, whose family were connections of the noted banking firm of Smith, Payne & Smith, of London, England; the eminent English author, Sydney Smith, being also a member of this family. Of this union were born six children, Alfred, being the fifth in the family, his parents residing at Leamington, at the time of their death. Alfred Major was born at Quorndon, May 8, 1828, and grew up in his native village, finishing his education at the Isle of Man College, located on the island of that name; in 1820, his uncle, Arthur Major, had come out to Indiana and entered a large tract of land on Flat Rock, in Noble township, Shelby County, which fell by heirship to Alfred and his brother Stephen, and in 1846, Alfred Major came out for the purpose of examining, and, if suitable, settling on his property. In 1847, he entered the law office of Thomas A. Hendricks, where he remained, studiously applying himself in mastering his chosen profession, until admitted to the bar; soon after, he formed a law partnership with Eden H. Davis, which continued in a large and successful practice for several years. He was married in Rushville, Indiana May 20th, 1851, to Miss Jane Lowrey, daughter of William and Elizabeth Lowrey, natives of Ireland. Mrs. Major was born in Philadelphia, January 1, 1828, and had the following children: William S.; Harriet; Elizabeth and Alfred L. After dissolving partnership with Eden H. Davis, Mr. Major continued alone, and in 1857, became a partner in the banking firm of Elliott, Hill & Co., which was sold out to Samuel Hamilton, January 1, 1858, and in 1859, he and John Elliott established the bank of Elliott & Major, which they operated successfully until January 1865, at which time they disposed of their bank to Elliott & Co., this finally merging into the First National Bank of Shelbyville, in August of that year; in 1867, he became a stockholder, and January 12, of the following year, was elected Vice President of the Bank; during all this time he was still actively engaged in the practice of his profession, and in 1869, he entered into partnership with his cousin, Judge Stephen Major, which constituted a legal firm second to none in this part of Indiana. Up to November 4, 1874, nothing had occurred to mar the happiness of his successful career, but on that day the devoted Christian wife and fond, loving mother, died, passing away as she had lived, a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church, with a strong and abiding faith in a blissful immortality. At the age of seventeen, she became an active member of the church, and for a space of nearly thirty years was a constant attendant upon all the regular services; to the poor in their need, she was a warm friend, not by word alone but by substantial help; to every call of benevolence, she made some response in her quiet unostentatious way, using her money freely for the interests of the Gospel; and she went further; she advocated and practiced self-denial for the sake of doing good. Mrs. Major was peace loving in her disposition, and prudent to an extraordinary degree, yet she possessed that decision of character and that heroic devotion to her own ideas of right, which is one of the noblest characteristics of a true Christian. One interesting peculiarity of her character that shone out conspicuously through her entire sickness, as it had been before an ornament in her life, was her unselfish thoughtfulness of the interests and comforts of others. Her presence of mind and carefulness even about her household, never forsake her. To all her family she gave repeated and most tender admonitions and expressions of her wishes and views for them, and especially for their Christian hope and welfare. There is a power in such a character that is really deep, and there is a force in its simple truth that is felt and acknowledged far more than the most lofty pretentions. Mr. Major was again married November 28, 1878 to Miss Helen Thomson, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and daughter of the Hon. James Thomson, a prominent citizen of that city. Mrs. Major is a member of the Presbyterian Church, who, by her liberality to God's poor, and her kindness and benevolence at all times, fulfills the true conception of the Gospel. Mr. Major is a consistant attendant of the Presbyterian Church, to which denomination he has ever adhered with that tenacity of purpose which is one of his strongest characteristics. In his profession, he devotes his time principally to the settlements of estates, doing an immense probate business, and is noted for the large amount of cases which he settles without resorting to the uncertain process of law. In giving legal advice, he is always cautious, ever remaining within the strict letter of the law, so that he may be relied upon as one of the safest of counselors. He is well versed in legal lore, and his law points are always well taken, and founded on the highest authority, making him a safe lawyer, whose decisions are candid, whose conclusion are carefully and logically reached, and who aspires only to be right and do right under the law. As a business man, Alfred Major is a model to be followed. Industrious, careful, painstaking, polite, earnest, unyielding, and withal, accommodating, his business and social life has been marked with no extravagance, no ostentation, no entanglements; quietly, smoothly, his fortune and reputation have grown to proportions attained by few. Since the formation of his first political ideas, he has been a cordial supporter of the Democratic party and, though a man of great earnestness and clearly defined ideas of political questions, he has avoided politics. He is a man of extreme retiring modesty, largely conservative in his views in every subject, a man of undoubted integrity in all the relations of life, and imbued with that spirit of liberality and progressiveness, which, coupled with his cultivated and genial disposition, have won him hosts of the warmest friends throughout Shelby County. He is now a chief member of the law firm of Love, Major & Morrison.
HIistory of Shelby County, 1887, Brant & Fuller, pages 507-508-509
Submitted by Barb Huff for Charles Major