E. B. ELDRED, a representative of one of the early pioneer families of Illinois, is an old and highly respected citizen of this county, who is now living in retirement at Carlinville, having acquired a goodly amount of property during his active business life as a farmer from which he derives an ample income. He was born at Winfield, Herkimer County, N.Y., October 31, 1819. His father, who was named Ward Eldred, was born in Connecticut in 1795, and was a son of Jehosephat Eldred, who was also a native of that New State, and was a descendant of one of three brothers who came to America from Wales in Colonial times.
The grandfather of our subject was reared on a farm, and was married in his native State to Polly Landon. After marriage he removed to Herkimer County, N.Y., and was a pioneer of that section of the country, buying a tract of wood land and clearing a farm. There were no railroads or canals in the Empire State in those days, and Albany was the nearest market and depot for supplies. In 1820 he sold his possessions there, and with his wife and seven children, two of whom had families, he again started Westward in search of a new location in the young State of Illinois. The little party set out on their long and momentous journey in the month of March, driving to Olean Point, where they embarked, teams and all on flatboats and floated down on the Alleghany and Ohio Rivers to the Mississippi, to Shawneetown, having an Indian pilot to guide them on their way, and from the latter place drove with their teams to Madison County. The grandfather of our subject rented improved land and after raising a crop for winter use, removed with his family to Greene County. He and his sons, William and Ward, bought together a squatter's claim to a tract of Government land, a part of which is now included in the town of Carrollton. He erected a log house, and at once commenced to evolve a farm from the wilderness that was prior to the time that Carrollton was laid out, and Greene, Jersey, Macoupin and a part of Scott County were included in Greene County, St. Louis being the nearest market. Deer, turkeys and other kind of game were abundant, and the Indians still lived on the Illinois River. In 1826 Grandfather Eldred went to the mines at Galena, and in that vicinity spent the remainder of his life, his death occurring at a venerable age in 1847. His wife died before he did, her life terminating in Greene County in 1824.
Ward Eldred was but a child when his parents went to new York State, and there he grew to a vigorous manhood, and in due time he was married. In 1818 he visited Illinois on a prospecting tour, and after a short stay in Madison County, returned as he came, on foot. In 1820 he came back here with his father and other members of the family and settled in Greene County, buying a claim on which he located. When the land came into market he attended the sale at Edwardsville, and bought four hundred acres for himself, besides quite a tract for his father and another for his brother. It was prairie and timber land, and a cabin stood on his purchase, into which the family moved in December, 1820. After the death of his wife in 1823 Mr. Eldred broke up housekeeping and made his home with his brother William until 1828, when he married a second time, and built a log house on his farm for the accommodation of his bride. He lived on that place some years and then sold and bought Illinois River bottom lands in the same county. There he closed his eyes in that dreamless sleep that knows no waking, in June, 1851. The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Emma Brace, and she was of Connecticut birth. Her father Asahel Brace, was also a native of New England, and he was a son of Abel Brace. The former went to New York to locate in the early days of the settlement of that State, and became a resident of Winfield, where he drew out the remnant of his days to a good old age. His wife bore the maiden name of Katie Curtis.
Our subject was the only son of his mother, and he was bereft by death of her tender care when he was Scarcely four years old. His paternal grandparents then took him in charge until his father's second marriage. His education was obtained in the pioneer schools of the early years of the settlement of this State, which were held in log houses, furnished with slab benches that were supported by wooden pegs, and a board on either side of the school room served as a common writing desk for the pupils. These primitive buildings were lighted by a part of two logs being cut out and a row of pieces of glass eight by ten inches in size being inserted in the hole thus made in the wall. The schools were taught on the subscription plan, and our subject, eager for a practical knowledge of books, attended whenever opportunity offered.
When not in school our subject assisted in the labors of the farm, and continued to reside with his parents until he established domestic relations of his own by his marriage in March, 1842, to Miss Emeline Wooley, a native of Greene County, Ill., and a daughter of David and Lauretta (Hodge) Wooley, who were residents of New York State prior to their removal to Illinois when they became pioneers of Greene County. Mr. Eldred's first wife died in 1857, leaving three children, Damon H., William O. and George. His second marriage was in 1858 to Miss Elizabeth Ritchie, a native of New York City, and a daughter of John and Margaret (Wilson) Ritchie. Her death occurred May 24, 1873. Five children are living of that marriage - Charles W., Samuel W., Horace O., Margaret D. and John F. Our subject was a third time married September 3, 1875, Miss Grace Trible becoming his wife. She is a native of Devonshire, England, and a daughter of John and Mary (Oliver) Trible. Her parents were also natives of Devonshire, and came form their old English home to this country in 1858. They settled near Girard, in this county, where mr. Trible bought land and was prosperously engaged in farming until his death in January, 1890. His widow now makes her home with her children.
When Mr. Eldred married and settled down in life his father gave him eighty acres of land nine miles west of Carrollton. In March, 1857, he sold that place, and coming to this county, bought four hundred and eighty acres of land in Polk Township, upon which he made his home until March, 1890, when he purchased his present commodious and conveniently arranged residence in Carlinville. During his active business life he displayed great enterprise, tact and ability in the management of his affairs that brought him riches, and he knows how to enjoy his wealth, and he has a thorough appreciation of good things of life. His many years' residence in this county have gained him a large acquaintance, among whom he has many warm friends, attracted to him by his genial, jovial disposition, and by his generous and kindly nature. In his early life he was a Whig, and his first Presidential vote was cast for W. H. Harrison. Since 1860 he has been a devoted adherent of the Republican party. He has served as Assessor of Polk Township, and is a member and Director of the Macoupin County Agricultural Society, always doing all in his power to promote the best interests of this section.