Russell A. Alger, Sr. and his wife Annette Huldana Squire Alger left quite a legacy of objects which have found their way into the collection of the Detroit Historical Society, ranging from a pair of crutches Russell used to heal from wounds received during the Civil War, to dresses worn by Annette to Washington functions. Perhaps the most touching artifact from this couple is a Valentine’s Day note:
O! how could I so long forget
My gentle, kind, and sweet Annette
Accept a heart so true as thine
And believe me truly your Valentine.
Feb . 14th.
Russell Alger is perhaps best known for his service as an officer during the Civil War, and later for his political career as Michigan’s 20th governor and President William McKinley’s Secretary of War. Alger was also involved in the booming lumber industry in Grand Rapids. It was here he met the Annette Henry. The two were married on April 2, 1861. For the ceremony, Annette worn a floral crown atop her veil.
Shortly thereafter, Russell enlisted in the army. Upon his return, the couple moved to Detroit. Russell’s status as a war hero allowed him to launch his political career. During her time as Michigan’s first lady in Lansing, as well as in Washington, Annette was known as a great hostess. The pair eventually had nine children.
Following Russell’s death in 1907, Annette continued her late husband’s philanthropic works from the couple’s mansion on Fort Street in Detroit. She lived out her final years at the Grosse Pointe Farms mansion of her son, Russell Alger, Jr. Following her death at the age of 79 in 1919, she was buried beside her husband in the family mausoleum in Elmwood Cemetery.
Visit our online collection for more objects relating to Russell and Annette Alger.