’47 Pioneer Civic Leader Dies In S.L.
Joseph U. Eldredge
Ranks of 1847 Survivors Reduced to 17 by Death
The fast-thinning ranks of Utah’s surviving pioneers of 1847 were reduced to the number of 17 today with the death of Joseph Underwood Eldredge, 90, son of Mayflower descendants and for three-quarters of a century prominent in civic and Church affairs in Utah.
Mr. Eldredge died at his residence, 60 east First North street shortly after 10:30 a.m. today of natural causes incident to advanced age.
He was born at Dennis, Mass., Oct. 10, 1843, the son of Elnathan and Ruth Baker Eldredge, and came to Utah in the O.A. Smoot company of pioneers with his parents and two brothers, arriving here in September, 1847. His family, after leaving their New England home where they joined the Church, crossed Pennsylvania, coming through the Erie canal, and took boat at Pittsburgh, coming down the Ohio to the Mississippi whence they traveled north again to Winter Quarters.
As a young man Mr. Eldredge married Bianna Pratt, daughter of Orson Pratt, early pioneer and Church leader, and together they moved to Bear lake country in southern Idaho among the early colonizers. Here Mr. Eldredge was sheriff, possessor, postmaster, and justice of the peace. From 1883 through 1885 he fulfilled a Church mission to the southern states in company with the late B.H. Roberts, taking an active part on the difficult organization and promulgation of Church work in the days of bitter persecution and prejudice in that area. Later he fulfilled a mission to the eastern states.
Mr. Eldredge was a veteran of the Black Hawk Indian wars in Sanpete in 1867, and drew a pension for his services in this connection up to the time of his death. Throughout this life he was active in civic and political affairs, being a staunch Republican and serving in numerous capacities. He served as a deputy clerk in the city court at Salt Lake for many years prior to his retirement five years ago, and for a long time held the distinction of being the city’s eldest employee.
Surviving are his widow, the eldest living daughter of Orson Pratt, and the following children: Mrs. Charles Meakin of Los Angeles, Mrs. Della Spiker and Lulabel Eldredge of Salt Lake, and Mrs. Vera Doherty of Chicago; also several grandchildren. He was the father of the late J.U. Eldredge Jr., former co-publisher of The Ogden Standard-Examiner, the late Frank Eldredge of Detroit and the late Orson Eldredge of Chicago.
Mr. Eldredge was a member of one of the oldest families of America, and was a descendant of William Brewster, Stephen Hopkins and William White, all Pilgrims of 1620. He was also a descendant of Thomas Prence, governor of the Plymouth colony, and the descendant of four Revolutionary war soldiers. He was a member of the Massachusetts society of Mayflower Descendants and of the Utah Society, Sons of the American Revolution.
On Tuesday, the 87th anniversary of the arrival of the first Pioneers in the valley, Mr. Eldredge said, “I have seen nearly every tree planted, every house and building built and every road completed in the State of Utah since its foundation.”
Up to the end today his intellect remained clear as he recalled outstanding events of his life.
Benjamin L. Rich, a compatriot in the S.A.R. and friend of many years, said today on learning of his death, “He was a man of great moral integrity, honesty, probity, independence and tolerance.”
Funeral arrangements had not been completed today.
[Deseret News, July 26, 1934]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2006]
Joseph Underwood Eldredge Sr., a pioneer of 1847, died Thursday morning at his home in this city. Until his death he was one of the eighteen surviving members of the companies which came into Utah in the first year of its settlement. In the span of his own life he was a witness of the growth of the commonwealth from its beginning as a sagebrush waste. Not only was he a witness, but he was an active participant in a host of constructive enterprises launched by those hardy first settlers in his youth and a virile citizen in his advanced age up to the time illness and infirmity laid their hands upon him. His contributions to the development of Utah were many and valuable.
He was a pioneer by inheritance, his ancestors having come to America with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower. He was a member of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, of the Sons of the American Revolution and a veteran of the Indian wars of 1867. He was a leader for many years in the Republican party in the state, an active member of the L.D.S. church, for which he had performed two missions, and a man of force in civic affairs. He had lived a colorful and worthwhile life.
Born in Dennis, Mass., October 10, 1843, he was a lad of four years when he came to Utah in the company of A.O. Smoot with his parents, Elnathan and Ruth Baker Eldredge. With them he made his first home in the old fort in what is now Pioneer park. The stirring events through which he passed and the full measure of service he gave to his fellowmen throughout his long and purposeful life compose a requiem as he lays aside the cares and responsibilities he has borne manfully so long. This is the finest heritage he leaves to his kinsmen and friends.
[Salt Lake Telegram, July 27, 1934]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2006]