ELDRIDGE: Jacob MULLEN merits an entry in The History of Davenport and Scott County, Iowa 1882
Jacob M. ELDRIDGE, arriving in Davenport in 1845, became an active and valuable factor in the business interests of the city and at the same time his opinions carried weight and his labors produced substantial results in financial circles. While he won success, his interests were never so self-centered that business excluded participation in projects and measures of progressive citizenship. On the contrary he was ever alert to the best interests of the community and his cooperation constituted a valuable force in inaugurating measures which were of public benefit. A native of New Jersey, Jacob M. ELDRIDGE was born at Haddonfield, New Jersey, November 20, 1824, a son of Duncan CAMPBELL and Rachel BROWN ELDRIDGE. Duncan was the first postmaster of Davenport.
Rachel died when Jacob was but four years of age and the boy then went to live with his widowed ELDRIDGE grandmother. His father, having remarried to Rebecca LIPPINCOTT of the publishing family, came west and had conducted a store in Davenport at the time of the death of the grandfather. Jacob M. ELDRIDGE, then a boy of thirteen years, was thrown upon his own resources and soon afterward commenced teaming.
Carefully saving his earnings, it was not long before he was able to purchase a team and in that field of activity he continued to labor for some time. Later he turned his attention to clerking and, actuated by the laudable ambition which was ever one of his strong characteristics, he soon made it possible to become the owner of a mercantile enterprise. This he conducted until 1845, when he came to Davenport, his attention having already been directed to this city by the fact that it was the place of his father's residence. He arrived in Rock Island [Illinois] on the 23d of December after a two months' journey from Philadelphia and spent Christmas eve in Davenport.
The next spring, however, he returned to the east to settle up his business affairs in that section of the country and in the succeeding fall again came back to this city. He had entered land from the government about three miles northeast of Davenport, for which he paid the usual price of a dollar and a quarter per acre.
The improvements which he placed upon it and the natural rise in value consequent upon the rapid settlement of this section of the country enabled him in 1874 to dispose of that farm for one hundred and twenty-five dollars per acre.
He was one of the first land agents of this city and followed that pursuit during much of his life. His keen judgment and sagacity enabled him to make judicious investments and profitable sales and at the same time he contributed to the substantial improvement of this section of the state by his careful manipulation of
At all times Mr. ELDRIDGE was mindful of his opportunity to promote public progress and was actuated by a public-spirited devotion to the general good that was manifest in many tangible ways. He was prominent in the movement that extended the Chicago & Rock Island [rail]road to the river and continued its construction across the state as the Mississippi & Missouri road. The second line afterward consolidated, forming the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. Mr. ELDRIDGE was also a member of the company that secured the franchise for the
second railroad bridge and he put forth earnest effort wherever he believed it possible to secure the adoption of a project that promised material benefit to the city, county and state. The town of ELDRIDGE was laid out by him and the city of ELDRIDGE, North Dakota, was named in his honor, though he never lived in either.
It was through the influence of Mr. ELDRIDGE that Frank P. BLAIR became a resident of this city and a most important factor in its later upbuilding.
In the field of politics Mr. ELDRIDGE was equally well known and prominent. He was a delegate to the convention held in Iowa City in 1855, which led to the organization of the republican party in this state. In 1872 he was sent as a delegate from Iowa to the convention of liberal republicans that nominated Horace GREELEY for the presidency. He regarded it as the duty as well as the privilege of every American man to uphold by his ballot and his influence the principles in which he believed and, while he never sought nor desired office for himself, he stood staunchly in support of those issues which he regarded as vital to
He conceived and instituted the idea of placing a memorial tablet in the rotunda of the courthouse in honor of the Scott county pioneers—a tablet which will preserve for future generations the names of several hundred residents who came here prior to 1848. He was one of the oldest and most faithful members of the Christian church, to the support of which he contributed generously, while in its various activities he took helpful part. One of the most honored members of the Old Settlers' Association, he filled all of its offices, including that of president. He was also president of the Board of Trade at one time and instituted various projects which were accomplished through the medium of that association.
In 1848 Mr. Eldridge was married to Miss Mary Louisa WOODWARD, who passed away eighteen months later. In June, 1851, he married Miss Mary HIGH WILLIAMS, and on 28th of September, 1866, he wed Agnes SMITH, who survives him. She was a daughter of Robert Smith, a farmer by occupation, who retired in 1861 and established his home in Davenport, where he spent his remaining days, dying at the age of eighty-eight years. The six children of Mr. ELDRIDGE were all born of the second marriage, namely : George Wallace., Mrs. Reuben R. ELDRIDGE [Dr. Elizabeth], Mrs. Samuel LYTER GLASPELL [Kate], Mrs. Carl E. SCHLEGEL [Minnie], Mrs. George W. BAWDEN [Jennie - this blog author's g-grandmother], and Frank Wallace.
The death of Mr. ELDRIDGE occurred June 8, 1892, and brought a sense of personal bereavement to a large majority of Davenport citizens, for during the many years of his residence here he was honored and respected by all who knew him. The value of his public work cannot be overestimated and his record furnishes a splendid example for emulation in its public-spirited devotion to the general good. As the architect of his own fortunes he built wisely and well and did equally good work for the city, his name being on the roll of the representative men whose labors have constituted the chief elements in progress and improvement here.