Dateline: Auburn

Historical Newspaper Accounts of Auburn, Massachusetts Events, People and Places:




+++Long and Honorable Career on the Boston & Albany+++

+++Good Citizen and Faithful Employee and Husband+++

JAMES M. ALGER, who was one of the oldest engineers of the Boston & Albany railroad when he retired, in 1895, dies yesterday at five minutes before 12 o'clock at his residence at Auburn. He had been ill a long time, almost since he left the employ of the road, and several times within the last few months physicians have said that he could not live longer than a few days. He was a man with a remarkable constitution, and managed to survive inroads on it that would have killed most ordinary men. When he was on the road he was one of the most hardy of the engineers and was always at his point of duty, no matter what were the conditions of the weather.

THREE DAYS AGO it was known positively that his end was near. And his sons were summoned to his bedside. They and his wife and daughter were with him when he breathed his last yesterday. The sons came to Worcester yesterday afternoon and made arrangements for the funeral. It will be Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, and the services will be held over the body at the Auburn church. Railroad men will have their meetings today and they will likely arrange to


The interment will be at Auburn.

MR. ALGER WAS visited during his illness by many of the railroad men of Worcester, and he was always glad to see them. He often told his friends that he was sorry his health had forced him to give up his position on the Boston & Albany, because he loved an engine and liked to be among the men with whom he had spent the most of his life. He knew that his end was rapidly approaching, but he did not regret it, for he said he had done his duty to mankind in his life on earth.

DURING HIS ILLNESS he took as keen an interest in the doings of the railroads as when he was employed on the Boston & Albany. He read of all the improvements on engines and was greatly interested in the three-rail experiments on the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroad. Like a good many of the engineers who run on the trains out of Worcester, he did not think that the introduction of electricity on the railroads would ever be a success, and that was one of the subjects he would talk about when his railroad friends called to see him.

HE WAS ONE of those men who always took an interest in the advancement of young men, and there are in Worcester today many competent engineers who


as firemen. He always wanted them to start at the bottom of the ladder and work up. He never believed that a man could become an engineer after a short period of service on an engine, and always impressed that upon the young men who were handed over to him to teach the business. Many of those who had their first training from Mr, Alger will attend his funeral Tuesday, and it is expected that it will be the largest the Auburn has ever seen.

WHEN MR. ALGER retired from the employ of the Boston & Albany in April 1895, he was the third engineer in length of service on the road. He had given the company the best years of his life and intended to live the rest of his days with his wife at their pleasant little cottage at Auburn. Railroad men were sorry to see him go from among them for they were all his friends. He was an engineer of the old school, but he had adopted new ways and systems as they came into the engineer's world, and his engine was akways one of the best kept on the road.

MR. ALGER'S FATHER was a farmer of Oxford, and it was there that he was born in 1824. In the earkier years of his life he assisted


He did not like the work, and when he was 21 years he began his railroad career at West Needham, which is now known as Wellesley. Two years passed before he was given a position on an engine. Then he became a fireman on the boat train in the charge of engineer Gleason, and remained with him for the next three years. He had got an idea of the practical work of running an engine, and he desired to learn how one was built.

A POSITION WAS given him in the repair shops of the Boston & Worcester railroad, and he soon acquired the knowledge he was after, and was able to take charge of an engine. The first one he took control of was on "the circuit," when it was extended from Brookline to the Charles River bank. He had his engine while the circuit was being constructed, and hauled a great deal of the gravel that was used in the work.

HE WAS GIVEN his first passenger engine in 1852, and took his brother, Henry, who is now the oldest Boston & Albany engineer, with him as fireman. James remained on that run about 12 years, and when the Boston & Worcester became the Boston & Albany, he was put on the passenger


That was the last change he made while in the employ of the company, and there was no better known railroad man between Boston and Worcester than James Alger. He had a reputation of always having his trains in on time, and never had a serious accident during his years of service.

MR. ALGER WAS married in Millbury, January 2, 1847, to Miss Sara h Rice of Brattleboro, Vt. Mrs. Alger and three children born of the union survive him. The children are J. Edgar and William, who are Boston & Maine engineers, running out of Boston, and Mrs. Emma A. Craig of Rochdale. Another son, Charles, was a civil engineer in the Boston & Albany road employ until his death in 1894.

MR> ALGER WAS one of 11 children, of whom only remain Henry A. of 66 Providence Street, and Mrs. Mary Roberts of Booneville, Ia. On January 2 of this year Mr. Alger and wife celebrated the 50th anniversary of their marriage, which all the relatives of both, and many of Mr. Alger's railroad friend attended. Mr. Alger was in excellent health then, and he was the liveliest of the many who spent the day with him and his life partner. He told stories of his railroad experiences, and several of the other railroad men made speeches. One was by Jerome Wheelock, the locomotive builder, of Worcester, who was one of Mr. Alger's oldest friends, he was told how Mr Alger had been induced to buy the cottage at Auburn by President Ginnery Twitchell of the Boston & Worcester road. Mr. Alger had been ill, and the president urged him to live at Auburn, where he thought his health would improve. President Twitchell presented Mr. Alger with a horse so that he could drive out to Worcester every day and take his place on the engine.

THE RAILROAD MEN showed their appreciation of Mr. Alger at his 50th wedding anniversary by presenting him with $40 in gold. A short time after the snniversary Mr. Alger's health began to fail.

(From: Worcester Sunday Telegram, 13 July 1897)