Dr. Ezra Ferris was born at Stanwich, Connecticutt, April 26, 1783. His father, who was also a native of that village, six years after the birth of Ezra, determined to emigrate to the far West. The enterprise at that time was so novel and daring that it drew together a number of people to witness the departure. Dr. Ferris, in his old age, wrote that although he was only six years old at the time, he had a distinct and vivid recollection of the occasion. His father, September 20, 1789, with his family, and accompanied by two other families, took their departure. As the little party of emigrants took their seats in wagons and moved down the road, they were surrounded by a crowd on every side ready to pre- dict that they would either fall a sacrifice to savage cruelty or be drowned in descending the Western rivers. But nothing could overcome the courage of the little company. Their route was along the road on the north side of Long Island Sound to New York City, thence through New Jersey and Pennsylvania and over the Allegheny Mountains to the Monongahela River; thence, by boats to Fort Miami, about three-fourths of a mile below the mouth of the Little Miami, where they arrived December 12, 1789, having been two months and twenty days on the journey. There were, at that time, some thirty or forty families living in the fort, without the restraints of civil law and destitute of almost all kinds of provisions except such as could be obtained from the woods, in which hovered the hostile savages. An apartment in the fort, about sixteen feet square, was assigned to the family, in which they resided for a time. The first five years Ezra Ferris spent at Columbia were during the horrors of an Indian war. He saw the dejection of the spirits of the pioneers when Harmar's expedition failed and St. Clair was disastrously defeated, and participated in the rejoicing over Wayne's victory. He has given a vivid picture of the hardships and deprivations the settlers at Columbia were compelled to undergo during this period. "Many of them," he says, "had been raised in opulence and had indulged in luxuries and enjoyed all the necessaries of life, now removed far from their former homes, where nothing but the most common fare could be had, and that often in stinted measure, were cast down though not forsaken. Add to the want of bread, the mortification an American mother (who had been at all times in the habit of clothing her children comfortably, and sometimes ornamenting them to please her fancy), must feel to see them clad in rags and dirt, for the want of materials to make new clothes of, or soap to wash them when dirty, and you will see enough to discourage and distress them."
Ezra Ferris had the benefit of such schools as could be supported at Columbia during the Indian war, and after the return of peace, obtained a good education. When a young man he studied in a good school in one of the Eastern States, and his education was quite a liberal one for the son of an early western emigrant. When quite a young man he was licensed as a Baptist preacher at the Duck Creek Baptist Church and was afterward ordained. He also studied medicine. For some years he taught a school at Lebanon, Ohio, when he removed to Lawrenceburgh and there practiced medicine and also preached to the destitute Baptist churches of that vicinity. He was elected a member of the convention which formed the first constitution of Indiana, and in that body was chairman of the committee on the elective franchise and elections. He also served as a member of the State Legislature. On the organization of the State Government he was appointed by the Legislature one of the censors for licensing physicians in the third medical district. Before he became an old man he retired from the active practice of medicine, but continued his drug store. He also continued to preach at Lawrenceburgh and at Salera.
Dr. Ferris was a most useful man. He was modest and retiring, but highly respected by all. He was strongly attached to his own branch of the church and was a sincere and deeply pious man. In politics he was a Whig. He was a man of fixed principles and his friends always knew where to find him. In 1851 he published a series of articles on the early settlement of the Miami Valley. A. H. Dunlevy, in his History of the Miami Baptist Association, wrote: "Elder Ferris knew more of the early history of the Miami country than any man living at the time of his death. He was not a man to be prejudiced, as is too often the case, so as to form unjust opinions or give undue coloring to any transactions related by him." The reader will find in this work copious selections from his writings. Dr. Ferris was twice married. He died at Lawrenceburgh, April 19, 1857.
[From History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana, 1885, pp. 167-168. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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