Reverend Edwin Hyde Alden, also known as Reverend Robert Alden, was born on January 14, 1836 in Windsor, Vermont.
He was married twice, first to Anna Maria Whittemore in 1861. He married a second time to Caroline Adams Garrison in 1897. As this marriage took place before the death of Anna Maria, it is likely they divorced, possibly due to a scandal he involved his first wife in. However, when his first wife was buried, she continued to use her last name, Alden.
Alden encountered the Ingalls family twice, the first time in Walnut Grove, and then later in De Smet, Dakota Territory, both times starting church services in the area. It was from Alden that the Ingalls learned of the school for the blind in Iowa.
Alden was embroiled in a scandal that Laura Ingalls Wilder does not discuss in the Little House books nor in the original Pioneer Girl manuscript. It is likely that Charles Ingalls had heard about the scandal, as he was an avid news reader, but it is not known if he learned about it before or after the family unexpectedly encountered him again in De Smet.
Alden left the church in order to become the Indian Agent at Fort Berthold when he was removed from his position after embezzling funds by marking up the cost of goods significantly he was reselling to the Indian population, then keeping the difference for himself. He also added his wife to the payroll, despite the fact she was living in Minnesota at the time and not working at the Fort, then lied to state she was at the Fort. Alden denied the charges but he was nonetheless removed from the post in mid-1878, after working in the position for about 18 months. He then returned to church service where he encountered the Ingalls again in De Smet.
In later life, he married his second wife before passing away on May 6, 1911, in Chester, Vermont.
Alden became well known after his death because of the popularity of both the Little House books and the later television series, where he was portrayed by Dabbs Greer throughout all seasons of the show.