Oral History #2 Inman F. (Cap) Eldredge
Inman F. (Cap) Eldredge was interviewed by Elwood R. Maunder of the Forest History Society in 1959. Born in South Carolina in 1882, Eldredge went to the Biltmore Forest School to receive training on how to become a forester. Eldredge worked for both The U.S. Forest Service and Superior Pine Products Company in Georgia.
Bracketed information has been added by the editor for clarity. Ellipses (…) indicate that text has been omitted.
Interviewer: Do you remember, Cap, what your first knowledge of Biltmore was based on? Was it an advertisement for the school, or a circular they sent out?
Eldredge: I think it was probably was a report on some speech that Dr. Schenck had made, which carried with it the location of his school, and that was in 1904. The school then was about six or eight years old. It was very small; I think our class had about fourteen or fifteen men. We all were required to have horses, which appealed to me greatly. Schenck himself said it was based on the master schools that were prevalent in Germany, in which a master took a number of young men with him, and they could watch him, hear him lecture, ride at his heels, and pick up forestry in that manner….
Interviewer: Who do you remember among your classmates?
Eldredge: There was E.D. Bronson for one, known as “Tod” Bronson for some reason – I think because he was a very poor horseman and there was at the time a jockey Tod somebody, so they called him Tod because he wasn’t a horseman. He was from New York and was afterwards Chief Inspector in the Forest Service….
Interviewer: Do you know of anybody in private forestry at the time?
Eldredge: In 1905? I don’t remember now. There were probably one or two scattered about somewhere, but very, very few.
Interviewer: From your description of the men who were in school at the time you were, the school seemed to attract men who might have been drawn to it by this camaraderie that they’d heard about.
Eldredge: Well, that could have been, or it could have been that they were young chaps like I was. I didn’t tell you the full history of why I entered forestry. Nobody knew what it was except us youngsters starting in. After my mother pointed out that forestry was a new thing and might be attractive, I started to read up on it and I read in some magazine or other on an account of a forest ranger mounted on a white stallion with a huge black hat and riding boots and spurs six inches long, and his horse was jumping a log. Underneath it said, “This is a forest ranger.” Well, on the strength of that I said, “That’s what I want – to ride a white stallion with a big hat and spurs and jump logs.” As far as I knew, that’s all a forester did.