Name change on fallen officer's memorial

POSTED: 5:22 PM May 15 2013   UPDATED: 6:00 PM May 15 2013
Officer memorial
Sullivan County, Tenn. -

An erroneous report from 1907 led to a name change on fallen officer's memorial in Sullivan County.

Special Deputy Lee Eldreth is the first of nine names listed on the Sullivan County Officer's Memorial. But this year's memorial ceremony is the first one in which the stone reads the correct name.

Phyllis Jackson is the great-granddaughter of Eldreth. He died in 1907 as a Special Deputy, killed trying to help police arrest a robbery suspect.

At the time the local newspaper printed Eldreth's name as Eldridge; for years that's how the fallen deputy was known. "People called us Eldridge, so it was not that unusual that it was reported incorrectly I guess," adds Jackson.

When Sullivan County decided to put together a memorial in 2009, the Eldreth family couldn't be located because the sheriff's office was looking for Eldridge. That's when the error came to light. "That was the reason they couldn't find anyone, because his name was actually Eldreth," adds Jackson.

Years later the family approached the sheriff's office about making a permanent change. "It was really not the fault of the county's that it was wrong, so we didn't feel like it was right to have to spend county money. So our family actually paid for it," says Jackson.

Now, more than 100 years after his death on Christmas Day in 1907, the family of Lee Eldreth has his memory forever ingrained into the fallen officer’s memorial.

The family tells us they paid $150 to have the change made. Because the memorial is granite, they couldn't take the incorrect name off the memorial. Now the stone reads Special Deputy Lee "Eldridge" Eldreth.