He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1842/45, perhaps to Francis and [unknown] Eldridge. [sources: date: 2 (21 in 1864), 5 (5 in 1850), 6 (15 in 1860), 7 (25 in 1870), 8 (26 in 1871). place: 2, 5, 6, 7, 8]
In 1850, he seems to have been living in ward 4, Moyamensing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was living with Francis Eldridge (presumably his father), and Mary (presumably his sister). He had attended school within the year. [source: 5]
In 1860, he seems to have been living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was living with Francis Eldridge (presumably his father), Elizabeth (perhaps his stepmother?), Mary (presumably his sister), and others. He and Francis were brickmakers. [source: 6]
When he enlisted, he was a brick [the rest is lost in the binding]. [source: 2]
When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 9 inches tall, and had a light complexion, grey eyes, and light hair. [source: 2]
He enlisted and was mustered into service on 16 February 1864. He was enlisted for three years, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Lieutenant Hildeburn. He was mustered in as a private in company H. [sources: 1, 2, 11, 12]
In 1870, he seems to have been living in ward 28, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was living with Francis Eldridge (presumably his father), and Elizabeth (perhaps the same Elizabeth as in 1860, though she is much younger?). He and Francis were brickmakers. [source: 7]
Perhaps he is the William Aldrich who died on 16 October 1871, of smallpox. He died early in the epidemic of 1871-1872, which lasted at least into January 1872. In the week ending 21 October 1871, 74 people died of smallpox in Philadelphia. (In the week ending 6 January 1872, 230 people died.) He was a brickmaker. He died at, or was buried from, York Street between 15th and 16th Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On 17 October 1871, he was buried at Glenwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [sources: 8, 10]
On 12 May 1874, Francis Aldridge, his presumed father, died, of natural causes. He was married, and a brickmaker (and 49 years old, born in Philadelphia). He died at, or was buried from, 1652 Mervine Street. On 15 May 1874, he was buried, in Glenwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [source: 9]
1 Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster) (William Aldridge)
2 company H, descriptive list, #116 (William Aldridge)
3 'The Ninety-first Pennsylvania volunteers', Philadelphia Inquirer 8 June 1864 page 3 (Wm Aldredge)
4 National Archives Archival Research Catalog (accessed 24 July 2010) (William Aldredge)
5 1850 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Moyamensing, ward 4, microfilm series M432, film 809, page 417 verso = 830 handwritten (William Eldridge)
6 1860 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, microfilm series M653, film 1171, page 612 = 110 handwritten (Wm Eldridge)
7 1870 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, ward 28, district 92, microfilm series M593, film 1445, page 280 recto = 25 handwritten (Wm Eldridge)
8 death certificate, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 16 October 1871 (William Aldrich)
9 death certificate [not transcribed], Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 12 May 1874, Francis Aldridge
10 [various articles about the smallpox epidemic, 1871-1872] (note that many more are available on GenealogyBank)
11 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (William Albridge)
12 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (William Aldridge)
|Name||Francis Eldridge||William "||Mary "|
|Occupation of males over 15 years||" " [sc. Brick mr]|
|Real estate owned|
|Birthplace||" [sc. Pa]||"||"|
|Married within year|
|Attended school within year||1|
|Over 20 & can't read/write|
|Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.|
|Name||Francis Eldridge||Elizabeth "||Wm "||Mary "||Peter Matholomew [?]||Rebecca Eldridge||Josephine "|
|Occupation||Brickmaker||" "||" "||Laborer|
|Value of real estate owned|
|Value of personal estate|
|Place of birth||" [sc. Penn]||"||"||"||"||N. Jersey||"|
|Married within year|
|Attended school within year||1|
|Cannot read & write|
|Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.|
|Name||Eldridge Francis||" Wm||" Elizabeth|
|Sex||" [sc. M]||"||F|
|Color||" [sc. W]||"||"|
|Real estate value|
|Personal estate value||$500|
|Father foreign born|
|Mother foreign born|
|Birth month if born within year|
|Marriage month if married within year|
|Attended school past year|
|Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.|
|Male US citizen at least 21 years old||1||1|
|Male US citizen at least 21 years old who can't vote ...|
Reports are being circulated to the effect that the small-pox is raging to an alarming extent in this city, and that deaths from the dreadful disease are occurring every day. These reports are, no doubt, gotten up with a view to damage the commercial interests of Philadelphia, and drive strangers away from among us. They are exaggerated and tend to create an undue alarm and excitement in the city. The disease does exist here as it does in other cities, but it is not near [sic] so bad as represented. The report that there are sixty cases in one street uptown, is untrue The Board of Health assert that there are not that many cases in the entire city.
Yesterday there were but sixteen cases under treatment at the Municipal Hospital, and the same number of cases had been reported in different sections of Philadelphia. Doctors are required to report every case coming under their knowledge to the board. A failure upon their part to do so subjects them to a fine of $50.
The physicians have been very prompt in reporting all cases, and the board are satisfied that they are receiving true reports of the number of small-pox patients in the city.
According to the report of the Health Officer for last week, there were but seven deaths from small-pox, while the number of deaths from typhoid fever reached nine.
The meeting of the Board of Health was held yesterday, at which the following resolution was adopted:--
Resolved, That as a means of protecting the community against the small-pox now very prevalent, the vacine physicians be directed to attend on a given day (early notice of which shall be given), at the railroad depots of the city, for the purpose of vaccinating all employees needing this protection.
It was stated that the various rumors in circulation regarding the prevalence of the disease in this city, were exaggerated. A report submitted showed a decrease in the number of cases, and also that the disease appeared in a very mild form.
The Board of Health held an adjourned meeting at their office, Sixth and Sansom streets, yeterday at noon.
The prevalance of the small-pox in the city was brought up for consideration, and the special committee, to which the subject was referred, presented their report.
The following resolutions [sic] in regard to vaccination was [sic] adopted:--
Resolved, That the citizens of Philadelphia are hereby urgently requested to see at once that their households are most thoroughly vaccinated and revaccinated when considered necessary by their attending physicians. Those unable to employ a physician can be vaccinated at the expense of the city by applying at the office of any of the vaccine physicians.
Resolved, That the vaccine physicians are hereby ordered to visit every public school within their respective districts and examine all pupils for the purpose of ascertaining whether they have been vaccinated, and, if so, what is the character of the vaccine marks: and if any pupil be found not vaccinated, or who presents vaccine marks of a doubtful character, or who show no evidence of having had small-pox, their names shall, by the vaccine physician, be reported to the principal of the school, whose duty it is to suspend all such pupils until they present a certificate either from a vaccine physician or a respectable physician residing in this city, to the effect that they have been successfully vaccinated, or subjected to the test of a revaccination, as the case may be.
The following paper was also adopted:--
Vaccination and revaccination and thorough isolation of those sick with small-pox or varioloid are the principal and most important means to be adopted to diminish the spread of this loathsome disease.
The deaths here are among those unprotected by vaccination. It is estimated that in Great Britain 80,000 lives are saved annually by vaccination, yet 5000 die annually there from its neglect.
If the vaccination scars are insufficient in quality or quantity, revaccination is necessary. This must be determined by a physician.
Every small-pox patient should be strictly secluded at home or in hospital during the whole progress of the disease as well as during convalescence from it, and until all power of infecting others is past.
Nurses should always be selected from those who are themselves protected from small-pox, either by having had the disease, or by having been thoroughly vaccinated.
The following are rules for nursing small-pox patients:--
Have the patient placed in one of the upper rooms of the house, the farthest removed from the rest of the family, where is to be had the best ventilation and isolation. Keep the room constantly well aired. Removed all carpets and woolen goods and all unnecessary furniture.
Change the clothing of the patient as often as needful, but do not carry it while dry through the house, but first place it at the bedside in a bucket of scalding water before removing from the room.
Boiling is the surest way of disinfecting all contaminated clothing. If infected clothing cannot be washed at once, let it be set to soak in water, to which may be added a saturated solution of permanganate of potassa or of chloride of lime, about a tablespoonful to the gallon.
Small-pox is supposed to be most contagious during convalescence, therefore strictly observe that the patient does not mingle with the family until all the scabs are entirely off, and only after a thorough purification by washing and entire change of clothing. After the patient is well or leaves the room, let it be purified by the use of disinfectants, by whitewashing and scrubbing the paint and floor with soap, soda and water, and let such rooms or apartments be well aired before being again occupied.
In regard to food and medicine always rely on the advice of a physician, who should be sent for as early as possible.
Any person unable to obtain the best of care and medical attention at home, should take advantage of the privilege of going to the Municipal Hospital, in the northwest portion of the city, which is under the care of the Board of Health, where every attention and nursing can be had gratuitously to the poor, and at the most liberal rates to them [sic] who can afford to pay.
A LARGE NUMBER of inquiries have been, within the last few days, directed to the editor of this paper concerning the names and addresses of the vaccine physicians appointed by the Board of Health. These questions should be directed to the Board and not to us. In view of the great concern there is felt, especially by the poorer classes of the community, regarding that noisome disease, the small-pox, the Board of Health should print in every daily newspaper in Philadelphia, for at least one month, the names, residences and office hours of every vaccine physician it has appointed. This is not the time when any information necessary for the people to have should be withheld upon any consideration, and especially should the poor understand that they can be vaccinated without cost, where and by whom.
The advance of an epidemic cannot be stayed by posting broad-sides on dead walls, nor yet by scattering circulars about the streets. Epidemics chiefly thrive where filthy highways and foul gutters induce a poisonous atmosphere. While small-pox is not the direct result of unclean streets, it now and always flourishes best in their immediate neighborhood, and wherever it prevails it is easy to establish the sympathy that exists bewteen it and dirt.
In one column of this morning's INQUIRER we print the death rate, as issued by the Board of Health, for the week ending October 21. For many years there have been no such startling figures in the lists as those which show the unparalleled number of seventy-four deaths, which have occurred in Philadelphia, in a period of seven days, from that loathsome disease, the small-pox. This is an increase of twenty over the previous week, and one-fourth of the whole number of deaths occurring in Philadelphia since the 14th instant. There were three hundred and four, or seventy-nine more than in the corresponding week of 1870.
In another column we print an article showing the abominably filthy condition of our highways. In the preparation of this account the entire Local Staff of THE INQUIRER were employed, their investigations were made with the most scrupulous care, and their report is also made with similar exactness. High medical authority estimates the number of small-pox patients in Philadelphia at the present time at nearly three thousand, and the number constantl increasing, while in many cases the disease is remarkable for its malignity.
To meet an emergency so threatening what are the Board of Health doing? They have, as they have always done at this season, appointed a certain number of vaccine physicians and issued a few thousand circulars containing the names and residences of the appointees. The whole number is less than a dozen, although the population of the city is nearly one million souls. At any time such a small force would be absurdly out of proportion; at present it is worse than absurd. The great point, cleanliness, is, however, neglected. Our report of this morning shows the streets to be monstrously neglected. The chief great thoroughfares, such as Chesnut and Walnut streets, are half cleaned but the smaller streets, alleys and courts are reeking with garbage and foulness. To purify these resorts of the poor no effort is made, and even some of the best of the large streets running north and south and east and west have not been visited by the street-cleaners for months past.
Winter, during which the small pox is most prevalent, is near at hand and yet the Board of Health, with the epidemic committing its ravages upon thousands of citizens, are absolutely doing nothing to stay its progress.
Public sentiment should compel them to do something, and that at once. The exigency is too serious, the danger too imminent to permit of such criminal inactivity as now prevails in the Health Department. The people's money is monthly paid in large sums to the street contractors for work not done; there should be no more paid until every highway and byway of Philadelphia is made thoroughly clean. The board are responsible for the condition of our streets, and how far they are responsible for the fearful spread of the small-pox in this city, their feeble action regarding it should demonstrate.
We regret to be compelled to make this unfavorable criticism upon the board, but our duty to the community compels us to state the facts exactly as they have been established to our satisfaction.
There is no denying the fact that the dread disease, small-pox, has been most prevalent in the Twentieth Ward, and the numerous cases reported there appear to be confined to the smaller streets in that vicinity. The Board of Health say that thus far 351 cases have occurred in that section of the city. In certain parts of the Twenty-fourth Ward, and on W. Sansom street, the disease has also prevailed. Some thirty odd cases are recorded in the Fourth Ward, which has always been noted for its filthy thoroughfares. Although the disease has been fatal in many instances, it has not as yet approached in gravity the epidemic of 1861, 1862, or 1865. The Board of Health furnish the following figures in reference to the disease:--
Exhibit of deaths from small-pox in the city since and including the year 1860:--
|1860 ...||57|||||1866 ...||144|
|1861 ...||758|||||1867 ...||48|
|1862 ...||264|||||1868 ...||1|
|1863 ...||171|||||1869 ...||6|
|1864 ...||260|||||1870 ...||9|
|1865 ...||524|||||1871 (thus far) ..||198|
The total number of small-pox cases since the first of January this year to the close of Saturday last, the 21st of October, were given by the board at 1149, and the officers of the board state that the physicians are now complying, with here and there an exception, to the law which compels them to report all contagious diseases under their charge to the Health Officer. The increase of the malady has been as follows, according to the reports of the cases to the Board of Health:--
|Previous to July ...||14|
|During July ...||15|
|During August ...||58|
|During September ...||110|
|During October (three weeks) ...||952|
The number of cases returned last week was 356. Dividing the six days reported, the decrease of the contagion becomes apparent:--
|October 16 ...||92|
|October 17 ...||87|
|October 18 ...||79|
|Total for first three days ...||258|
|October 19 ...||56|
|October 20 ...||39|
|October 21 ...||63|
|Total for last three days ...||158|
On Monday the reports to the board returned a total of cases of 73, but these covered both Saturday and Sunday, giving to each about 36. This is a decidedly gratifying reduction. The total numbers of deaths thus far is 198. Since September the increase in the mortality has been as follows:
|Week ending September 2 ...||0|
|Week ending September 9 ...||1|
|Week ending September 16 ...||6|
|Week ending September 23 ...||4|
|Week ending September 30 ...||7|
|Week ending October 7 ...||23|
|Week ending October 14 ...||54|
|Week ending October 21 ...||74|
The reports on the street about this loathsome disease are very much exaggerated, while the statements in some of the country papers that the streets of our city are boarded up are without a shadow of truth.
Twice during the past week the Board of Health authorized the publication in different city papers of statements that the smallpox was rapidly decreasing in Philadelphia, and on each occasion the officers of the board refused to furnish a representative of THE INQUIRER with the figures upon which those statements were founded. It now appears from the official weekly report of the board, which we print elsewhere this morning, that during the week ending on Saturday the small-pox was constantly increasing, and that eighty-five deaths resulted therefrom, an increase over the preceding week of eleven.
The Board of Health, it will be remembered, in 1870, a month after THE INQUIRER had published the official lists of the Almshouse showing a very large number of cases in that institution, of Relapsing fever and of many deaths therefrom, absolutely denied that any such disease existed in Philadelphia, and consequently refused to take any steps to prevent its increase. In the same spirit the Board, in both of their printed statements of last week, endeavored to create the impression that the small-pox does not prevail in this city to any alarming extent, and that what there was of it was rapidly disappearing. How true this is their own death lists for October will demonstrate; they showing that during twenty-eight days of this month the mortality from the epidemic alone was two hundred and thirty-six. That is, twenty-three during the first seven days, fifty-four during the second, seventy-four during the third, and eighty-five during the fourth. The increase of deaths, it will be seen, has been steady from the first day of the month.
We deprecate the efforts of the Board of Health to create the impression that the disease is decreasing and that it does not exist in any alarming decree [sic], because such efforts have a tendency to make the people indifferent regarding the necessity of being vaccinated. It the public were treated with entire fairness by the Board, and properly informed of the extent of the prevalence of the epidemic, there would be no danger that they would be sufferers therefrom. In an able article published by us on Saturday, emanating from a distinguished Philadelphia physician, the writer makes the broad assertion--
"that the small-pox poison is a virus sui generis, which is only conveyed from one individual to another by contact or through contaminated atmospheric influences."
And he added it was his conviction that if "vaccination and revaccination were properly and faithfully performed with pure, genuine, lympth [sic] that small-pox and varioloid, its milder and modified forms, could be entirely eradicated from the face of the earth, unless it was spontaneously generated, which he does not believe it ever was."
It is, therefore, apparent that no one can "take" the small-pox simply through fear of it, and it is equally clear that if any one is vaccinated he is in little danger of taking it at all.
The fact has been communicated to us by a large number of resident physicians, that among the poorer and uneducated classes great repugnance is felt to vaccination, and in consequence thereof the disease is constantly finding new victims.
We, therefore, consider it unwise for the Board of Health to attempt to conceal the truth, and that they should rather give it full publicity in order that every one may immediately be vaccinated. It would also be well to inform citizens in what exact locations the small-pox is most prevalant that they may be avoided.
The Health Officer, John E. Addicks, Esq., reports that the deaths by small-pox, during the week ending January 6, numbered 230; week ending Jan. 13, 216; and week ending January 20, 209. The decrease of new cases for the past week is nearly or quite 200. The written or verbal reports of very many physicians are to the effect that the disease of a much milder type. Some doctors report that they have not a single case of the sickness; others that they have not a virulent case, and some have all varioloid cases, or mostly so.