Eckford Township History


Eckford Township was named after Henry Eckford, a naval architect from New York. Oshea Wilder, for whom Wilder Creek was named, was a surveyor and the first resident of our township. Wilder honored Henry Eckford, whom he had befriended in England, by naming the new township for his friend.

Henry Eckford was born near Irvine, Scotland, March 12, 1775 and died in Constantinople (Turkey) on November 12, 1832. 

He was apprenticed as a shipbuilder in Quebec in 1791 and moved to New York in 1796 where he introduced important changes and took the lead in producing ships with strength and speed. During the War of 1812 he was employed by the government to build ships-of-war on the Great Lakes. His work at Sackets Harbor had earned Eckford a national reputation as a hero of the war, and he returned to New York City to great praise for his wartime work on the Great Lakes. Eckford‍ '​s family moved in New York City's higher social circles, and he expanded his business interests, including ventures in the shipping, banking, insurance, and publishing sectors. He also became involved in politics, serving in the 40th New York State Legislature as a Democratic-Republican member of the New York State Assembly from 1816 to 1817. Later he built the steamer Robert Fulton that, in 1822, became the first ship to make a successful voyage by steam to New Orleans and Havana. 

After leaving the government, Henry built war vessels for European and South American nations. At President Andrew Jackson’s request, Henry submitted a plan to reorganize the US Navy. Henry was about to establish a professorship of naval architecture for Columbia College with a $20,000 gift when he lost his fortune. In 1831 Henry went to Constantinople and built a sloop-of-war for the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, established a navy yard, and was about to become chief naval constructor when he died. Appropriately, his body was shipped home to New York City aboard the sailing vessel Henry Eckford, the second ship bearing his name.