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Eldred Twp. named after early county judge

Several municipalities in Warren County are named after people — Mead after an early settler, Columbus after you know who.

Add Eldred to the list.

“Next came, in 1835, Judge Nathaniel B. Eldred, the accomplished gentleman, brimful of honor and honesty and sympathy.” That’s according to a report in Schenck’s History of Warren County from another early county jurist, Samuel P. Johnson.

“His quick perception, sound judgment, and stern impartiality guided him to the justice of a case, without the aid of much legal learning, so that his decisions were seldom appealed from and were seldom reversed.”

He was a judge of the judicial circuit that included Warren County until the 1840s when he moved on to, well, bigger and better things.

The township named after him was split off and formed from Southwest Township in September 1843.

He was born in New York in 1795 and was admitted to the bar at the age of 22 in Wayne County.

The state legislature passed an act in April 1833 that put Potter, McKean, Jefferson and Warren counties into the 18th Judicial District. He was initially appointed judge in the district and then president judge in 1839.

He jumped districts in 1843 to a district that took him closer to his home.

While Eldred may be best known for his legal career he was also elected to multiple terms in the General Assembly at the age of 27.

He was then appointed to a board as a state canal commissioner where he worked with officials from New Jersey on “navigation and control of the Delaware River.”

His stage didn’t stay at the state level though — he was a presidential elector in 1844, casting a vote for James K. Polk. He was also appointed to run the Naval Customs House in Philadelphia (customs houses used to be prime federal appointments with the most prominent one being New York.

His judicial philosophy was evidently widely respected.

From Schenck: “The essential justice of his purpose was so apparent as to command the respect of the bar, even when error was alleged in his rulings on questions of law,” Schenck wrote in a biographical sketch of Eldred. “The people, without measuring his judicial action by professional tests, accepted its results as in the main just and equitable; they recognized his strong common sense, and clear judgment, and had abiding faith in his judicial integrity. They gave him their confidence because they knew him to be upright, impartial, and devoted to the administration of justice in its broadest and noblest sense.”

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