Born in Ohio
in 1836, Alger was to become a major figure in Michigan and national
history. Orphaned at the age of twelve, he continued his education
while supporting a younger brother and sister. He was admitted to
the Ohio bar in 1859. In late 1859, he moved to Grand Rapids where
he started in the lumber business.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Alger enlisted in the 2nd Michigan
Calvary. He was appointed Captain of Company C. His later commissions
were: Major in the 2nd Michigan Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel in the
6th Michigan Cavalry and Colonel in the 5th Michigan Cavalry. He
served in over 60 battles and skirmishes during the war, including
the battles of Gettysburg and at Booneville, Mississippi. He was
wounded four times during the war. At the war’s end, he was
awarded the rank of Brigadier and then Major General. General Alger
was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic
in 1889. He helped improve pensions for Civil War veterans.
After the war, he returned to Detroit with his wife, the former
Annette Henry of Grand Rapids. The Alger’s had nine children,
only six surviving to adulthood. He resumed his expanding lumber
business as well as interests in banking, manufacturing and railroads.
Alger took an active part in Republican politics and was elected
Governor of Michigan in 1884. He served only one term, 1885-1886,
and declined the nomination for a second term. Working behind the
scenes, he played an instrumental part in the election of President
McKinley. The President appointed Alger to the post of Secretary
of War. Alger resigned the post in 1899. After the death of U. S.
Senator James McMillan, Michigan Governor Austin Blair appointed
Alger to fill the term. He was elected to a full term by the Michigan
Legislature in 1903. Alger died in Washington, D. C. in 1907.
Born: February 27, 1836
Died: January 24, 1907
Entombed: Alger Mausoleum, Section 10