JOSEPH UNDERWOOD ELDREDGE, Sr


Joseph Underwood Eldredge was born 10 October 1843 at Dennis Barnstable County, Massachusetts, the second son of Elnathan and Ruth Baker Eldredge. Joseph wrote in his biography:


My father was a sea captain and sailed the Atlantic Ocean for many years. My mother was a school teacher at Harwich, Massachusetts. In company with my older brother, Elnathan, and my younger brother, Frederick, I moved with them from Massachusetts to the wilderness of Utah in 1847. I remember that at the end of the tiresome journey, my mother dropped on her knees and said “this is the place! Our journey is ended!” and offered a prayer to God in gratitude that we had all been spared in the long hazardous journey.


My father took up a farm a few miles south of Salt Lake City. He soon learned to conduct a farm, and the other members of the family as many others did at the time, lived in town and went to and from town to raise food for man and beast. We boys often talked together of father’s honest and generous principles. We had often seen his generosity and kindness during the famine and the grasshopper war when grain was scarce. We had seen him give to the needy.


Our schools at the time were rather poor affairs. We boys were fortunate in having a mother who could teach us the rudiments of education and she took pains to teach us and give us a good foundation.


In 1862 I drove four yoke of oxen and wagon from Utah to the Missouri River and return. I was 19 years of age and in company with a train of 60 wagons. That to me was a wonderful trip. On my return to Utah I engaged in freighting to the mining camps of Nevada, Idaho. and Montana. In Montana I went to the headwaters of the Missouri River. I freighted over that country when there were no white settlers there, except trappers, miners, and freighters. They were a wild and lawless class of desperate characters. Life was filled with adventure and excitement. It was the days of the placer gold mining. Lawlessness ruled the country. The citizens there organized a vigilance committee to enforce order.


In 1867, I enlisted as a soldier in the Black Hawk War and served several months for which the U.S. Government gave me a pension. I worked nearly a year for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1869 I went with my father on a visit to Massachusetts for six months.


I married Vianna Pratt in Salt Lake City on October30, 1870. She was the daughter of Apostle Orson Pratt and his third wife Mary Ann Merrill. She was born March 13, 1851 at Harrisgrove, Iowa.


In 1873 I moved with my family to Meadowville, Utah in company with my brothers Elnathan and Joshua. There we took a contract from the United States Government to carry a tri-weekly mail from Evanston, Wyoming to Paris, Idaho, going through the towns of Rich County, Utah. We also engaged in cattle and ranch business. raising, buying, and selling. We remained in Rich County and while there I was elected County Assessor and Collector of Taxes, and served four years. There I took a contract to build railroad grade for fifty miles from Granger, Wyoming through the coal fields; also installed a steam sawmill for making lumber. In 1884 I moved back to Salt lake City, having disposed of my holdings in Rich County.


I have held the offices of deputy sheriff, assessor, collector, and clerk of Salt Lake County; was appointed clerk of the Salt Lake City Court, and resigned from that position after giving eight years to that office to give attention to my own private affairs.



Joseph served on a mission to the Southern States with B. H. Roberts during the troublesome times of 1883-84. He later served on an Eastern States mission for the Church.


He was proud of his ancestry. He was a descendent of William Brewster, Stephen Hopkins, William White, and Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower. He was also a descendant of four Revolutionary War heroes. He was a member of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendents and of the Utah Society of the Sons of the American Revolution


To the end of his life his intellect remained clear and he could recall the outstanding events of his life. His friend Benjamin L. Rich said of him on learning of his death, “He was a man of great moral integrity, honesty, independence and tolerance.”


Joseph and Vianna Pratt Eldredge had eight children; they include:


(1) Ruth Vie, b. 9 February 1872 at Salt Lake City, Utah, d. 3 November 1939

m. Charles Wolcott Meakin, 10 February 1905

(2) Ora or “Orrie” b. and d. 21 August1873, Meadowville, Utah

*(3) Joseph Underwood, Jr., b. 18 December1874, Salt Lake City, Utah, d. 20 January 1933, m. Mary Maude Jenkins, 27 October 1894

(4) Frank Milando, b. 20 August 1876, Meadowville, Utah, d. 27 February 1930,

m. Gertrude Carter, 4 October 1904

(5) Della Cynthia Ann, b. 10 March 1879, Meadowville, Utah, d. 20 September 1966, m. John Albert Spiker, 28 August 1898

(6) Lulabelle, b. 8 June 1880, Meadowville, Utah, d.21 May 1974 m. Antone Carlson, 8 June 1905 (divorced)

(7) Orson Pratt, b. 24 July 1884, Salt Lake City, Utah, d. 10 June 1930

m. Sarah Mitchell, 27 June1906

(8) Vera, b. 12 September 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah, d.1 January1981

m. (1) Frank Doherty (2) Robert Walker (3) Al Fields