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Reverend Edwin H. Alden

Walnut Grove Congregational minister and missionary in Dakota.

The Reverend Alden lived at his real church, in the East…. This was his home missionary church, in the West. – On the Banks of Plum Creek, Chapter 24, “Going to Church”

noteEdwin Hyde Alden was born January 14, 1836, in Windsor, Vermont. He was the son of Elam Alden and Sarah (Hyde) Alden. This Alden family is in both of the direct lines of descendants of Pilgrims John Alden and his wife, Priscilla Mullins.

Edwin Alden graduated from Dartmouth College in 1859 and from Bangor Theological Seminary in 1862. He was ordained to the Congregational ministry two years later. He married Anna Maria Whittemore and they had two sons: George (born 1866) and Frederick (born 1873).

Reverend Alden served as pastor in churches in Vermont, Minnesota, and Dakota Territory. He served as home missionary in Minnesota from 1867-76 and as general missionary from 1872-75. As missionary, he helped organize churches in such towns as Marshall, Tracy, and Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

Walnut Grove Congregational Church.
Union Congregational Society in Walnut Grove was organized in 1874, with services first held at the home of James Kennedy. Trustees purchased property in the townsite of Walnut Grove, and a church was soon built. Reverend Alden conducted services here when he was in town: see On the Banks of Plum Creek, Chapter 24, “Going to Church.”

Reverend Alden in Dakota Territory.
While working under the Congregational Missionary for Dakota Territory, Reverend Alden traveled through the townsite of De Smet in 1880 on his way westward to organize a church in neighboring Beadle County. Reverend Alden conducted the first religious service in the area in February 1880. It was held at the Surveyors’ House, being occupied that winter by Charles Ingalls and family. Twenty-five persons attended this first service, among them Mr. and Mrs. Ingalls, daughters Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boast. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about this religious service in By the Shores of Silver Lake (see Chapter 23, “On the Pilgrim Way”).

In May 1880 Reverend Alden relinquished his mission field to the Reverend Edward Brown. Reverend Alden then moved to a homestead farther west in Dakota Territory.

In 1890, Reverend Alden moved back to his home state of Vermont, where he married Carrie A. Johnson in 1897. Edwin Alden died at the age of 75 and was buried in Chester, Vermont.


Alden, Edwin H. (BPC 24, 31; SSL 23; TLW 18; LTP 17, 23; PG)