Monday, January 21, 2013
Alger's Gun Works
Cyrus Alger was born in West Bridgewater Massachusetts in 1781, and learned metal casting from his father. He set up a foundry in Easton, and in 1809 moved to South Boston, recently stolen (legally, of course) from Dorchester and annexed to Boston . One source has him supplying cannon balls to the government during the War of 1812.
the grounds of the North Carolina State Capitol (Wikimedia Commons).
In 1816, Alger bought from the South Boston Land Association most of the land west of the Dorchester Turnpike (now Dorchester avenue), and soon began filling in the mudflats of the South Bay. Here, he built his foundry, and made a name for himself as one of the leading metallurgists of his time. Alger developed a process for purifying cast iron, producing a much stronger material, and produced the first rifled gun in the nation. He personally supervised the pouring of the Columbiad, the largest gun to be produced up until that time.
From the Boston Directory, 1848-49. Although now known for his cannons, Alger's company supplied castings for many commercial uses. He had patents for improving both stoves and plows.
Cyrus Alger was also active in the community. He served on Boston's Common Council and as an Aldermn. He paid to have sidewalks laid and trees planted along Dorchester avenue. He is said to have kept his workers on half time when they weren't needed, and introduced the 10 hour day to South Boston industry. When he died, stores closed along the route of his funeral, and factories all over South Boston shut down. Today, Alger cannons sit in front of Town Halls and on village greens all over the country, and are bought and sold by collectors as pieces of American history.
Sources: Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston, Nancy S. Seasholes.
A genealogical history of that branch of the Alger family which springs from Thomas Alger of Taunton and Bridgewater, in Massachusetts. 1665-1875