To those of us who work here, the name of our street sounds completely natural. One day, Miriam Bader, the Director of Education and I were sitting around discussing walking tours when we suddenly realized that we had no idea for whom our own street was named!
I suggested that it must be a bird, thinking that Eldridge sounds remarkably like partridge, but Miriam found the winning answer: The street is in fact named after Lieutenant Joseph Eldridge, an American soldier in the War of 1812 who was killed after being scalped in Canada by Indians.
As reported in this 1813 letter, “In July 1813, the Ottawa chief, Blackbird, with 150 warriors, joined the British army which had invested the American position at Fort George at the mouth of the Niagara River. On 8 July, British and Canadian troops and their aboriginal allies ambushed an American patrol outside the fort. The fighting was vicious and casualties were heavy on both sides. During the action Lieutenant Joseph Eldridge of the 13th U.S. Infantry was killed by Blackbird’s warriors. American witnesses claimed that he was murdered after being made prisoner and the American commander at Fort George lodged a protest with his British counterpart over this supposed atrocity. That officer asked the superintendent of the Indian Department to investigate the Eldridge incident and, on 15 July 1813, he visited Blackbird to admonish him and to point out that a reward of $5.00 would be paid for each American prisoner his warriors took alive.” Read more here.
In 1817, five streets on the Lower East Side were dedicated to the memories of men who died in the War of 1812: Ludlow, Chrystie, Allen, Forsyth and our good old Eldridge.
Find out more information on the 1817 naming.