My 4th great-grandfather James Harding Eldridge (sometimes Eldredge) was born in Chatham, Mass, on 2 April 1797, the first of Nehemiah Eldredge and Ruth Harding’s nine children. I wrote about his parents here.
James was raised mostly in Harwich. His family was very involved in the Methodist Church there. His grandfather Elnathan Eldredge helped build the church and he and other family members are buried in the cemetery there.
|East Harwich Methodist Church undergoing repairs|
On 3 December 1818, James married Rosanna Wixon in Harwich. She was born 15 December 1789, the daughter of Job Wixon and Desire Chase. It was unusual to see a man marry an older woman.
It was Rosanna’s second marriage. She married first William Wixon in 1810 and he died at sea later that year. She had one child with him, also named William, born 17 May 1810.
As an adult, James lived in Harwich and then in Dennis Port at what is now 268 Main Street, in a house built ca 1835.
|268 Main Street, Dennis Port|
According to family, when his daughter Rosana married Valentine Kelley, James had a house moved to his land for them.
|280 Main Street, Dennis Port|
In the 1850 Census James is 53, a mariner, living in Dennis, with wife Rosanna, son Nathan C. His son Sylvanus was living in the house with his young family and son James F. was next door.
In the 1860 census he is 63, a fisherman, in Dennis, with wife Rosanna and someone named Ruth Ellis who was age 60. James had a sister Ruth, but she would have been about 50 and her married name was Smalley. His daughter Rosana Kelley is next door with her family.
In the 1870 census James is 73, a farm laborer, in Dennis. His son Nathan C. and his family are living with him.
|Old postcard "View of Dennisport, North, From Holy Chapel"|
Later in life (he was baptized in 1866) James became very involved in the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints (RLDS) in Dennis Port. He was one of the earliest members and was very active, becoming a Priest in the Church, an office he served until his death. From a brief history of the church: "Brother J.H. Eldredge was educated to follow the sea, was a member of the first organization of the church, was the first in Dennis Port to join the Reorganization."
|RLDS Church, Dennis Port|
James pledged $10 to build a Free Meeting House in Dennisport, c. 1860s. On the top of the list it is written: "This society believe and advocate the pure principles to the gospel of Jesus Christ, known as Faith, Repentance, Doctrine of Baptism, Laying on of Hands, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Judgement." Heb. vi:2. We likewise believe Polygamy to be a sin and a crime, and recognise the sacred rights of civil marriage."
James and Rosanna had five children:
--James Freeman, born Harwich 23 September 1819. He married Susan Wixon and had six children. He lived in Dennis Port, was a sea captain and a Deacon in the West Harwich Baptist Church.
--David H., born Harwich 4 January 1822. I don’t find him in local records, but the family Bible has his death date as 27 October 1897. He’s not buried at Swan Lake Cemetery with most of the family. There is a David Eldridge who was the same age, lived in Kansas, served in the Civil War, and was born in Mass., so I need to find more information on him.
--Sylvanus, born Harwich 11 June 1824. He married Caroline Phillips and had four children. He was a sea captain and is buried at West Harwich Baptist Church.
--Rosana, born Harwich 4 December 1826. Married Valentine Kelley and had five children, including my great-great grandmother Mary Ann Kelley.
--Nathan C., born Harwich 22 August 1831. He married Jane S. Eldredge and had four children. He was very involved in the RLDS Church, becoming a Priest.
It is possible that James and Rosanna had additional children, but those are the five I have found. It is interesting that most of them lived to old ages for the time, remarkable given that most of the men were mariners, and they each had just one spouse. James died at age 67, David was 75, Sylvanus was 33 (he died of complications from diabetes), Rosana was 84, and Nathan C. was 71.
James died 7 April 1873 in Dennis Port and is buried at Swan Lake Cemetery with other family. He was 76 and the cause of death was disease of the brain. His death certificate states his father was Elnathan Eldredge, but he was actually his grandfather. His son-in-law Valentine Kelley’s register in the family Bible (owned by Natalie Chase) gives James’ death date as 27 April 1873, but the Dennis Vital Records and RLDS Records state 7 April.
Rosanna died 1 May 1868 in Dennis Port and is buried with her husband. She was 78 years of age and died of palsy.
|James and Rosanna Eldridge's gravestone, Swan Lake Cemetery, Dennis Port|
Sources Not Cited Above:
Various RLDS Church records from Missouri
Burton N. Derick, Dennis Source Records, Volume 1: Church Records, 2004