Born in Mount Clemens on June 11, 1881, Alice Louise Tucker was the first woman elected to public office in Macomb County. She was the daughter of John and Agnes (Lacey) Tucker and a descendant of William Tucker, the first English-speaking landowner in Macomb County. William had settled his family on the banks of the Huron (now Clinton) River in 1784 and was the owner of the Denison family who served as slaves on the Tucker farm.
Tucker attended the local schools and then studied at the Detroit Conservatory of Music in Detroit. After a trip abroad to study music further, she returned home to teach piano and became active in local organizations and politics. Gov. Sleeper appointed Tucker secretary of the Macomb County War Board during World War I; she was also director of the Salvation Army and president of the Ladies Literary Club during the campaign for women's voting rights. Additionally, Tucker was active in the League of Women Voters and the Red Cross.
In Michigan, women were allowed to vote for statewide offices in 1919, while the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting them the right to vote did not become law until Aug. 26, 1920. Tucker’s distant cousin, Alice Marion (Cottrell) Tucker, may have been the first Macomb County woman to run for office. In 1919, she ran unsuccessfully for the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents under the Prohibition Party. In 1920, she ran unsuccessfully for the Register of Deeds office, and in 1922, she ran for state treasurer but was again defeated.
In 1932, Tucker ran against 10-year incumbent Hugh Whiting for register of deeds and won by 2,987 votes. A Democrat, Tucker served in the office from 1932 until 1944 when she voluntarily retired. In her first year in office, she was paid $1,200 with a $700 budget for office supplies and expenses.
At the time that Tucker served, the Register of Deeds was a separate entity from the Clerk’s Office. In 1968, the Board of Supervisors, by resolution number 97, combined the Register of Deeds and the Clerk’s Office into one.
Tucker resided at her parent’s home at 48 East Broadway where she taught piano lessons for many years. Her home was razed for urban renewal around 1959, and she donated many of her personal belongings before moving into the Medea Hotel (located where the Administration Building now stands). The F. Harold Hayward oil painting of the old court building that hangs in the Facilities and Operations office was a part of her collection.
Tucker died on Oct. 10, 1964 after a brief illness. Pallbearers at her funeral were Ivan Johnson, former county prosecutor; Aaron Burr, register of deeds; Sherwood Bennett, county controller; Nelson Zott, former county clerk; Carl Brandenburg, former county treasurer; and James Spier, circuit court judge.
Tucker will be remembered for her many contributions and accomplishments in her community and her drive for the advancement of women. She was active in education, public service, philanthropy, and politics, but was perhaps remembered best by the hundreds of students who took piano lessons in her home.
Cynthia S. Donahue is a historian for Macomb County Facilities and Operations. This article was featured in Macomb Matters in March 2013.