1815, Eldred Home in the Wilderness

“A Home in the Wilderness,” Currier & Ives lithograph, 1870, Library of Congress: 09097.
“A Home in the Wilderness,” Currier & Ives lithograph, 1870, Library of Congress: 09097.

James Eldred Homestead
At the end of 1815 James Eldred, his wife Polly Mulford, and their five children arrived from Orange County, New York. Ten days later their daughter Phebe Maria Eldred was born.

The Eldreds settled in a log cabin beside a sawmill on two cleared acres near the middle of Halfway Brook, two miles north of the Hickok family. There was no building for a mile in any direction.

The northwest corner of Mr. Eldred’s property was the location for the future Halfway Brook Village—much later renamed Eldred.

James Eldred lumbered and farmed. He became involved with the local government, overseeing schools, and building roads in this new community. (James and his children play a significant role in the life of Asa’s daughter Hannah.)

One Clock, Three Watches
In 1816 only four frame houses, nine frame barns, and a gristmill sat on Lumberland’s large acreage. The animals included 19 horses, 34 oxen, and 34 cows. There were ten wagons. One person owned a clock which furnished the time for the town. James Eldred owned one of three watches.

Close up of Sylvia Hickok's gravestone courtesy of Jane Butler.
Close up of Sylvia Hickok’s gravestone courtesy of Jane Butler.

Congregational Church
A Congregational Church met in log cabins and barns in remote areas near the Delaware River, in Lumberland. In the fall of 1814 some of the meetings were held at the Hickok Farm.

In 1815 Sylvia Hickok, daughter of Asa and Esther, died at the age of thirty-four. Sylvia was buried in what is now the Old Eldred Cemetery.

In September 1818 revival meetings were held in the Hickok barn. The entire Hickok Family joined the church. As did James and Polly Eldred.

The following year James Eldred, a careful Bible student, was elected a church deacon. Church Services were then held at the home of James and Polly Eldred.

The meetings were so meaningful that at the 1899 Eldred Church Centennial, James’s daughter Eliza Eldred Gardner, at age ninety-nine, commented, “If I were thirty years younger, I would walk up to Eldred, even in a storm, if I might see the same spirit of love there, now, that I saw in those early days.”

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