ELDRIDGE: Duncan CAMPBELL marries Rachel BROWN, and Rebecca LIPPINCOTT
There are many stories about Duncan CAMPBELL ELDRIDGE. This is a brief history about this enterprising mover-and-shaker.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL ELDRIDGE: son of Josiah and Sarah MIDDLETON ELDRIDGE was born 3 Aug 1801 in Woodbury, Gloucester, New Jersey. He was probably named in honor of Duncan CAMPBELL who fought in the Revolutionary War and was a doctor in Woodbury at the time of the Eldridge birth. Duncan’s parents were devout Quakers and saw that son Duncan had a good education and was taught a useful trade. Duncan worked as a brick layer and plasterer in Haddonfield and Philadelphia until 1824.
Duncan and first wife, Rachel BROWN, were married 8 January 1823 in Haddonfield, Camden County, New Jersey where they lived until the birth of Jacob in 1824. Then they moved to Rochester, Monroe County, New York, where 2 more children were born, both dying in infancy.
14 December 1824 Duncan ELDRIDGE of Haddonfield, Gloucester Co., Bricklayer and Cooper, and Rachel his wife, for $80, to Wallace LIPPINCOTT Junior of the Township of Waterford, Gloucester Co., Gentleman Farmer, land in the Township of Gloucester, 7 acres, 3 [roods], and 20 pershes of Cedar Swamp, to Duncan ELDRIDGE 6 March 1824.
Wit: Thos REDMAN (s) Duncan ELDRIDGE
G. W. COLLINGS Her
Rachel X ELDRIDGE
Recorded 7 March 1827 Mark
Rachel BROWN ELDRIDGE died in 1827. I have nothing more on her – birth, death, parentage. Duncan returned to Haddonfield where he left 4 yo Jacob in the care of Duncan‘s mother, Sarah, and moved to Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio to work at his trade.
On 4 November 1829, in Cincinnati, Duncan married Rebecca LIPPINCOTT, a childhood friend from Haddonfield, born 23 January 1807, daughter of Micajah and Sarah Jane ROBERTS LIPPINCOTT, probably in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
The Blackhawk War concluded on 21 September 1832 with the signing of a treaty near the Village of East Davenport, giving title of 6,000,000 (million) acres of Indian land west of the Mississippi River to the United States. English immigrant and Indian agent / trader, Colonel George DAVENPOT [colonel = honorary], and Antoine LECLAIRE, who was a French-Canadian fur trader and son of a Pottowottomie Indian Chief’s granddaughter, were at the signing. LECLAIRE was interpreter and suttler for the United States government.
After the treaty was concluded, Keokuk, Sac Indian chief, donated the section of land where the treaty was signed to LECLAIRE’s wife, Marguerite, with the understanding that the LeClaires would build their home on the site. In 1835, Antoine LECLAIRE, George DAVENPORT, and 6 other men surveyed and laid out the town of Davenport on the land presented to Mrs. LeClaire. The house still stands as a private residence.
Duncan met Antoine LECLAIRE and George DAVENPORT while they were buying supplies in Cincinnati. After hearing them describe the beauty and rich soil, Duncan was persuaded to move to Scott County, IA. The ELDRIDGE family packed their belongings, along with enough wood to erect a shanty. Duncan’s son, Jacob, who was the only child from Duncan’s wife Rachel BROWN, was left with Eldridge grandparents in New Jersey. Rebecca LIPPINCOTT ELDRIDGE, Duncan CAMPBELL ELDRIDGE and their first child, Charles Henry ELDRIDGE, born 26 Jul 1830, in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, boarded a raft which Duncan built for a trip down the Ohio River in lieu of taking a slower more dangerous route on land. He built a shanty on the raft and placed a cook stove, a 4-poster bed, clothing, food and supplies.
It was late Fall by the time they got to the convergence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. During the trip down the Mississippi, they communicated with a steamer captain, possibly the “Dubuque”, asking to be towed because the current had slowed. After some period, the captain decided that the ELDRIDGE raft was slowing the steamer, and the captain abandoned the raft to its own. The shallow, rocky river froze as they approached the Scott County borders. They were ice-jammed close to the Illinois side – then called Stephenson, now Rock Island. They yelled for help. A period of a day or so later, a group of men managed to get out far enough to get a rope and pull the Eldridges to shore. The winters were snowy and blustery cold. Duncan and Rebecca’s shanty was made of logs with mud packed between them. The mud eroded with the weather, so they took the Cincinnati newspapers and pasted them all over the walls to keep the cold out. When townspeople heard, they came in groups, some standing on tuffets, to read the news on the walls.
They arrived on 5 Oct 1835 at the foot of Brady Street where Duncan erected a shanty from the materials he’d used on his raft, near the only other house in the area, a small wooden house owned by Antoine LECLAIRE who was sent by the government to be a suttler to the Indians in 1815.
In Spring, Duncan returned to Cincinnati to purchase merchandise to begin a general store in a 2-story wood frame building which he constructed on the northwest corner of Ripley and Front Street (River Drive). One might wonder where Duncan would find customers to buy merchandise in a wilderness town boasting a population of just 12 families. Stephenson, with a population of 500, and others who had settled for many miles up and down river, came to the area to trade. Before 1840, Iowa settlers were dependent on imported products: lumber, pork, flour, and even corn. The Davenport river bank at the foot of the Rock Island Rapids was a steamboat landing for westward pioneers, and receiving and shipping merchandise and agricultural products.
From Davenport’s early days, Duncan was a leader in community affairs. He began his business career as a merchant, selling dry goods, books, drugs, and groceries. He practiced his trade as bricklayer and plasterer, helping to build over 34 houses and buildings including the first post office and the LeClaire House hotel. They lived in Davenport’s first brick house built in 1838 by Duncan on the northeast corner of 3rd and Main Streets. He began a carriage and blacksmith ship, he built and managed the White Hall Temperance House hotel. He introduced to Davenport the first “flouring” mill, a small coffee mill grinder run by horse power.
He was a Whig, elected one of the first township trustees, an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff and was the fire warden for the city, officiating in Davenport’s first fire – his Eldridge store burned to the ground.
When Antoine LECLAIRE resigned as postmaster in 1838, Duncan was appointed in his place and kept until he resigned in 1852. Until his death in 1882, he was connected with Hartwell and Bemis, a fire and life insurance company (1880 census).
On 29 May 1831, Rebecca and Duncan became members of the Christian Church after baptism by immersion in the Ohio River in Cincinnati. There were no organized churches when Eldridges arrived in Davenport, so they opened their home to all traveling Protestant preachers who would conduct services for the young community. Reverend James RUMBOLD came to Davenport in 1838 and organized the Christian or Disciples Church in the Eldridge home. Duncan and Rebecca were members for the rest of their lives.
They had Charles Henry, Sarah E., Lewis H. and Micajah Lippincott (seperate pages)
Duncan was a member of the Odd Fellows for 54 years and was the oldest member west of the Alleghany Mts. at his death. He died at their home, 214 W. 5th St., on 3 Oct 1882, of a stroke. Rebecca, his wife of over 50 years, died 5 Oct 1889. She was the last living settler who came to Davenport in 1835. Duncan, Rebecca, and 4 of their 5 children: Jacob Mullen, Charles Henry, Sara E., and Micajah Lippincott are buried in Davenport’s Oakdale Memorial Gardens.