Grand Army of the Republic
Russell A. Alger was born in Lafayette Township, Medina County, Ohio February 27, 1836. At the age of 11 his parents died and for seven years he labored on a farm, attending Richfield Academy, in Summit County, Ohio in winters, and subsequently taught country school. Later he studied law at Akron, Ohio and was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of that state March 1859. The degree LL.D. was conferred upon him by Hillsdale College in May 1855. In December 1859, he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and extensively engaged in the lumber business and other industries.
In August 1861, he enlisted in the Army and mustered into service as Captain of Company C, Second Michigan Cavalry on September 2, 1861. He was promoted Brevet Major-General U. S. Volunteers June 11, 1865 for gallant and meritorious services during the war, having participated in 66 battles and skirmishes.
He was elected as the first Commander of the Michigan Department of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in 1868 and the 18th Commander-in-Chief of the GAR in 1889. He was a member of the Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Insignia #3572. In politics he was a Republican. He was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1884, and was elected Governor of Michigan in the same year, declining renomination in 1886. He was first elector at large of his State in 1888 and in March 1897, was appointed Secretary of War by President McKinley, He served in that capacity until August 1, 1899, when he resigned. On September 27, 1902, he was appointed United States Senator by Governor Bliss of Michigan to fill the vacancy caused by the death of James McMillan. He took his seat December 1, 1902. He was elected by the Legislature in January 1903 and served until his death at Detroit January 24, 1907.
Michigan Historical Commission. 1924. Michigan Biographies: Russell Alger, Lansing.
Michigan Commandery of the Military of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
Final Journal of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1957. Compiled by Cora Gillis, Jamestown, New York, Past National President, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865, Inc. and last National Secretary of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Information provided by:
James T. Lyons, PDC
G.A.R. Records Officer
Department of Michigan
National Secretary 1989-94