Henry Alter is well and favorably known in Darke county and the history of his life therefore cannot fail to prove of interest to our readers, many of whom are numbered among his friends. He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, March 16, 1837, and is a son of Jacob and Eliza (Tice) Alter. The former was a native of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and was a son of William Alter, who was born in the Keystone state and belonged to an old colonial family. The grandfather of our subject was a farmer, miller and distiller and was a man of influence in his community. During the war of 1812, he was captain of a company, raised in his vicinity, that participated in the battle of North Point, Baltimore, Maryland. His brother-in-law, Joseph Ritener, was then governor of the state. William Alter held a number of official positions of prominence and for one or more terms was a member of the state senate. In his family were the following children: William, John, David, Benjamin, Simon, Jacob, Eliza, Mary and Susan. The parents died in the Keystone state, the grandfather passing away in May, 1840.

Jacob Alter, the father of our subject, was reared to manhood in the county of his nativity, became a farmer and later conducted the Shakespeare House, then the most prominent hotel in Harrisburg. He had the honor of entertaining Charles Dickens at the time of his visit to the United States. He also entertained General W. H. Harrison at a banquet given him during the presidential campaign of 1840. The late Thaddeus Stevens also made his home at the Shakespeare House. Jacob Alter was married in Washington county, Maryland, to Miss Eliza Tice, a native of that state. They began their domestic life in Pennsylvania, wdiere they remained for ten or more years, and then removed to Preston county, West Virginia, where Jacob Alter purchased a farm, making his home there for some time. He afterward spent several years in western Maryland and then returned to Washington county, that state, where he remained for a number of years. With his family he emigrated to Ohio, taking up his abode in Clark county, upon a farm which he made his place of residence for twelve years, after which he came to Darke county, Ohio, here remaining until his death which occurred May 24, 1875. His wife also passed away in Darke county, surviving him for some time, and both were well advanced in age when called to the home beyond. They had a family of five children, two of whom are living. Frank, who resides in Cincinnati, where he is recognized as a prominent citizen, and Henry, of this review. The daughters who have passed away are Mary, Laura and Lucy. The first two died in childhood and the last named is the deceased wife of William McCaughey.

Henry Alter, whose name forms the caption of this article, spent his early boyhood days on the home farm in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and attended the "pay schools." His educational advantages however, were somewhat limited. He walked from three to five miles each night and morning in order to acquire an education, but as his services were needed on the home farm, he found little opportunity to remain in the school room. He assisted in the cultivation of his father's fields until twenty-one years of age, when he began life on his own account and followed farming in the Keystone state until 1854, when he accompanied his parents on their removal to Clark county, Ohio. In 1866 he came to Darke county, taking up his abode in Greenville township upon the place where he now resides. He was married in Clark county to Elizabeth Ilges, a daughter of Martin Ilges, of that locality. Their wedding was celebrated in April, 1864, and from 1866 until 1887 they resided upon the old homestead in Darke county. In the latter year, however, Mr. Alter and his wife went to Tennessee, in order that he might obtain relief from asthmatic troubles, and there he remained until December, 1889, when he returned to the farm, which has since been his place of abode. By his first wife he had two children: Mary, now the wife of Harmon Hartzell, of Greenville, and Florence, who died at the age of two years. The mother passed away in 1870, and Mr. Alter was again married. His second marriage was consummated December 18, 1874, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary M. Clew, a daughter of D. B. and Rachel (Thompson) Clew, then residents of Darke county. Her father, however, was a native of Pennsylvania, and her mother was born in Ohio. Her maternal grandparents were Moses and Christine (Ireland) Thompson, the former a native of New York, and the latter of Ohio. She was probably born in Clermont county, where her people settled at a very early epoch in the development of the state. Moses Thompson and his wife had ten children, namely: Rachel, Isaac, Annie, Daniel, Rhoda, Lydia, Samuel, Ephraim, Malinda, and Azenia. The grandfather of Mrs. Alter came to Darke county at an early date, entered land from the government near New Madison, and there made his home until his death, which occurred about 1856. His wife survived him until 1859. Mr. and Mrs. Clew, the parents of Mrs. Alter, were married in Cincinnati, December 4, 1842, and located in Darke county in 1848, here spending their remaining days. Her father, who was born in Philadelphia, April 6, 1813, died April 21, 1867. His wife who was born in Clermont county, Ohio, May 22, 1814, was called to her final rest December 8, 1844. They had four children, of whom three are living, namely: Christine Elizabeth, who was born in Cincinnati, February 18, 1844, and died August 29, 1849; Henry D., born in the same city, May 1, 1846; Mary M., born September 4, 1849; and William M., born December 24, 1851. The father was auditor of Darke county for four years, and previous to that seiwice had been deputy auditor for four years. He took an active interest in politics, and was a stanch advocate of the Democracy, yet enjoyed the respect and confidence of people of both parties. He discharged his public duties with marked fidelity and his books were the best kept of any in the county.

Mr. Alter is also an advocate of Democratic principles and keeps well informed on the issues of the day, yet has never sought or desired office. He and his wife are most highly respected and their circle of friends is very extensive, embracing many of the best people of the community.



From A Biographical History of Darke County Ohio, Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago, 1900