Pages 284-285, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




GEORGE J. ELDRIDGE—Those who lived in the vicinity of Iola as early as the year 1850 recall the appearance, one July day of a little Englishman driving a yoke of oxen across the prairie and into the village. Behind this primitive team was a young wife and son and all the worldly effects of the travelers. That they were settlers was early made known and that they were poor was at once apparent. They had made the journey all the way from McHenry County, Illinois, to Iola and were just finishing their trip that 27th of July. Their resources, aside from their team, wagon and camping outfit, amounted to $40. The head of the family was a wagonmaker and the hope of their future welfare lay in his ability to provide life's necessities from his trade. He built a small cabin on the site of the Hart livery barn and took possession. If his wagon shop was not the first in town it was one of the early ones and he plied his trade as the main means of existence from that date till 1868.

The few foregoing facts are sufficient to identify the subject of this review, George J. Eldridge. He was born in East Kent, England, Mary[sic] 19, 1833, and was a son of Richard and Mary (Bone) Eldridge. The parents had six children, two of whom survive: Mrs Peter Adams, of Caldwell, Missouri, and the subject of this notice. Although his father was a shoemaker George Eldridge left England without a trade. He went aboard a sailing vessel at London, in company with an uncle and family, and after five weeks of sea life landed in Castle Garden. The little company located in Wayne County, New York, and there, at the age of eighteen years, our subject took his first lessons in wagon-making. In 1856 he came on west to McHenry County, Illinois, residing three years, and while there marrying Miss Martha J. Hopkins, a lady born in Alleghany County, New York. She was a daughter of William and Mary Hopkins whose children she and Mrs. Catharine Washburn, deceased, of Elgin, Illinois, are.

Two of the three children of Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge survive: Mary, wife of John Cloud, of Allen County, has a son, Glen; and Richard A. Eldridge, still under the parental roof.

George Eldridge had been in America ten years when the Rebellion broke out. He felt the same patriotic zeal for the preservation of the Union


under the southern sun of Kansas as in the free and invigorating air of the northern clime. When the second call for troops was issued he enlisted for three years or during the war. He entered Company E, 9th Kansas Cavalry. Colonel Lynde and Captain Flesher, on the 19th of October, 1861. The Company joined the regiment at Lawrence, Kansas, and in the course of events was sent south into the Territory. It took part in the battle of Prairie Grove and in many smaller engagements and skirmishes in Missouri and Arkansas. Mr. Eldridge was discharged at Duval's Bluff, Arkansas, in January, 1855,[sic] having served his three years.

In 1867 Mr. Eldridge purchased the tract of land which is his homestead. It is the northwest quarter of section 36, township 24, range 17, and cost him three and a half dollars per acre. The first years of his career as a farmer was something of a struggle for little more than existence. Like all settlers without means it was a slow process to do more than the natural improvement the first ten years. After this his progress was steady and sure and as the circumstances warranted he extended the area of his farm. As is well known he is one of the substantial men of his community, and a gentleman whose social and political integrity are undoubted and above reproach. He is a Republican pioneer, having joined the party in 1856 as a charter member. His first vote was for John C. Fremont and his last one for William McKinley. He has aided in an official capacity the conduct of public business in his township and does his part as an individual toward the promotion of Republican principles and Republican success in political campaigns.

Previous | Home | Next