John Alger was born in Astabula County, in the northeast corner of Ohio 05 November 1820. He was the son of Samuel and Clarissa Hancock Alger. He was baptized with his parents in 1830.
Very early in Johnís life he met and became associated with Zera Pulsipher, when Zera moved to Kirtland, Ohio in 1837. He was one of the first presidents of Seventy for the L.D.S. Church and was to have a great influence on his lifeís work.
After the Saints were compelled to leave Ohio and Missouri, having built the temple in Kirtland and failing to establish a refuge or gathering place for the Saints, they went to Nauvoo, Illinois to start anew.
On 06 January 1842 John Alger married Sarah Pulsipher, daughter of Zera Pulsipher and Mary Brown. They were married by the Prophet Joseph Smith. And through this marriage John became a member of the Pulsipher family which would take a very active part in the building of the Church in Illinois and in the migration west to establish themselves in the valley of the mountains.
At the time of his marriage, John was 21 years of age and a skilled workman as a carpenter and wheelwright. At the time of this marriage, work was beginning on the second temple built in this dispensation at Nauvoo. To what extent John assisted in the building work of the temple is not recorded. Before the Saints were to abandon the building and their loved city, John and Sarah received their endowments in the temple 07 January 1846.
When it became know that the Saints would be forced to move west, John spent much time making wagons and preparing other articles that would be needed in making such a long trip of hardships and privations. The famous all wood wagon that brought Father Bundy completely across the plains was made by John Alger.
In February 1846 when the move was started, he and his wife Sarah and daughter Sarah Ann ( pron. "Surrie Ann"), born 13 April 1845, joined the party. They had buried a little son, Nelson, in Nauvoo.
After they arrived at Winter Quarters, Nebraska in 1846, it was too late in the season to attempt a thousand mile journey over the desert and through the mountains so they remained there through the winter. While at Winter Quarters, another daughter, Olivia, was born 23 June 1847.
In April 1847 Brigham Young left early to find the way. He counseled those who remained to prepare ways and means for their trip ahead. John Alger used his skill to make wagons and other equipment that could make the long trip.
In the spring of 1848 Zera Pulsipher prepared to head a company of the Saints as Captain. This group consisted of 100 wagons. In this group were John Alger, his wife Sarah and their small daughters; also Zera Pulsipherís family, and Johnís parents Samuel Alger and Clarissa Hancock Alger. This group arrived in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake between September 20-24 1848. John Alger settled at Far West, which was located north of Salt Lake, and his wife Sarah went to Salt Lake to be confined with her third daughter, Adeliza, born 09 August 1849.
In 1857-58 it became known that Johnstonís Army was coming to attack the saints, having heard false charges against them. John was directed by Brigham Young to burn the sawmill and bury all the iron and go out into the mountains to help prevent the army sent by the federal government from coming into the valley. Sarah and the family were moved to Payson for safety.
After the trouble was over the saints returned to their homes, but John Alger never returned to Far West. He continued his profession in Salt Lake City on a homestead given him as his inheritance. It is shown on the Orson Pratt map, block 62, Great Salt Lake Survey. While the John Alger family made their home in Salt Lake City, six more children were born: John Zera, Martha, Ann, Samuel, Alva and Willard.
On 26 October 1861 John Alger married a second wife, Jane Ann Burnett, in the old Endowment House Salt Lake City. The two families moved to Beaver where John Alger went into partnership with Lafayette Shepard who had a gristmill. John furnished the saw mill and planing layout. In 1863 William E. Cowley joined the partnership, being a blacksmith. William soon married Johnís eldest daughter Sarah Ann.
In the next year, 1864, John Alger, Sarah and Jane, William and Sarah Ann Alger Cowley, Samuel and Clarissa Hancock Alger (parents of John Alger) were called by President Brigham Young to go to the Dixie Mission. Such families as the Pulsiphers and Algers, because of their qualifications, were needed in the plan of President Young to extend the territory where all Saints could prosper. Samuel and Clarissa Alger and family located at Parowan. John Alger and families went on to St. George and built their homes there. He located on fraction Block 4 Plat A on Diagonal St. He built a stucco frame house on Lot 6, Block 39 at the head of First West Street on Diagonal. He also helped his brother-in-law, Charles Pulsipher build a stucco frame house. These buildings still stand as evidence of the skill and workmanship of the builders. Block 39 at the head of First West Street on Diagonal. These buildings still stand as evidence of the skill and workmanship of these builders.
Erastus Snow, President of Washington Stake, called John Alger and John and William Pulsipher to take care of the surplus stock which was being grazed in Diamond (Dameron) Valley. John located at a spring in the north central party of the valley, afterwards called Alger Canyon. William E. Cowley helped, spending a great deal of time with him, after returning from his trip with James Andrus in the Black Hawk War. Later, when Joseph Price married his daughter Ann, they lived at a spring in the northeast part of the valley. As more room and pasture was needed for the ever growing herds of cattle, locations were found farther to the west and north. John also had a ranch located in a place called Little Pine Valley. The valley was at the head of Shoal Creek. It was down this creek where the stream turns east to flow out into the Escalante Desert that the town of Hebron was located, and settled by Zera Pulsipher, his sons and sons-in-law. It was while living at Hebron that the eleventh child was born to John and Sarah Alger. It was their last and was named Mary Edna, born 09 December 1865.
John Alger took part in locating setters at Hamblin in the north end of the Mountain Meadows in Clover Valley. After this pioneering he returned to St. George where Sarah and her family had continued to live. Jane Ann was with him in all of his movings.
John Alger filled a mission to the Eastern States, Ohio being his headquarters. On returning, he brought his brother Alva and sister-in-law whose husband, Thomas Alger, had been killed in the Civil War and a small boy back to St. George. He married her 07 September 1867.
While at St. George, Johnís first wife Sarah Pulsipher Alger was set apart at the dedication of the St. George Temple as a worker. She worked there thirty-one years, eighteen years at Matron. At the time of her death in 1909 she was the last of the group that was set apart at the dedication.
While at St. George, made saddle trees and axe and hammer handles. He shaped the native wood to be like the back of a horse, then covered the saddle tree with dressed rawhide which, when dried, made the saddle tree strong as iron. The finished shape was then ready to be covered with leather. He also made excellent furniture, chairs with woven fine rawhide seats, dolls and an entire harness for his two little mules.
John was a man who loved dancing and entertainment. He liked to sing and did his part at parties and social gatherings.
He acquired land in Santa Clara, near St. George. Part of the land had been cleared and was farmed but he felt he must have more land for his wife, Jane Ann, and her four boys and two girls. So he traded the farmland to Alex Fullerton for a wagon and horses. He then moved this family to a location on the Beaver Dam Wash below a piece of land where Henry W. Miller and others had started a settlement but had moved away because the floods had washed away most of their land and homes. Here he and his family of small boys struggled alone for years until the boys were mostly grown.
Sarahís sons, John, Samuel and Willard moved to Castle Valley, Emery County, and later William Cowley and Sarah Ann followed with their family in 1886. Jane and her boys joined them in 1890, and later settled on a farm in Nine Mile, Carbon County. They farmed, raised cattle and worked for a man named Preston Nutter. John Alger visited them once in this home. After his two families made this last move, John was nearing seventy and was too old to continue building new places as he had done. For over forty years he had been a pioneer in the valleys of the mountains.
The remaining years of his life he spent with members of his family. Sometimes he visited with his daughter, Ann and husband Jode Price at Diamond Valley, or with his daughter, Adeliza who had been left a widow by the death of her husband, Andrew McArthur, or his daughter Olivia Bryson. His oldest son, John Zera and wife Anna moved from Emery County to take care of John for his last several weeks of fever and agonizing pain. He died of gangrene poisoning 4 February 1897 at St. George, Utah, and is buried in the St. George Cemetery. Thus closing a life of seventy-six years, forty-eight of which spent as a builder and frontiersman.