Ezra Stiles Ely, Rev. DD
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About Rev. Ezra Stiles Ely, D.D.
Birth: Jun. 13, 1786, Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut, USA Death: Jun. 17, 1861, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ezra graduated from Yale University in 1804 and was ordained a Presbyterian clergyman in 1806. He first worked in Colchester, Connecticut, then in New York City by 1810 where he was chaplain of the City hospital and was known for his visits to prostitutes and others at the infamous Four Corners part of the Lower East Side. He is one of the first presbyterian ministers known for actively trying to convert the poor (catholics mainly) in the area (see Gotham, p. 385). He published his sermons and his work in New York City in "Visits of mercy, or, The journals of the Rev. Ezra Stiles Ely : written while he was stated preacher to the hospital and alms-house, in the city of New York," (Philadelphia : Samuel F. Bradford, 1829 6th ed., rev. by the author). Then he moved to Philadelphia where he became the rector of the Old Pine St. Church (Third Presbyterian) in 1813. (Their sons Ezra and Ezra Duffield was buried at Third, according to death certificates). I don't know if they married there in 1814 and I don't know if that date is correct. He was also one of the founders of the Jefferson Medical School there. Ezra published the diaries of his father 1825, who died the year before. Somehow he had the ear of President Andrew Jackson and got involved in scandal surrounding the Jackson cabinet. Ely was highly critical of the personal lives of one of the wives of one of Jackson's confidant which is well published. Ely was attempting to get most activities closed down on Sundays. He resigned all his duties of the Philadelphia church on 25 April 1836 (in a letter written in Pittsburgh to the General Assembly in his 'Correspondence File' 317-1-2, Presbyterian Historical Society) announcing he has taken a position 'in the Theological Department of Marion College in Missouri." The next letter in the file is dated 16 July 1836 from "Ely, Marion Co., Mo". He resigned that post in 1836 to take up a position at Marion College in Missouri. His time in Marion is well known and the subject of my 2009 article in the New England Ancestors magazine (Summer 2009). "Ezra Stiles Ely" of "Philadelphia, PA" bought a huge amount of land in Missouri listed in the Bureau of Land Management Index on the web, starting in 1837 up to 1849 from the Palmyra office for Clark, Monroe, Ralls, Marion and Shelby counties. The name appears for dozens of purchases. He was speculating on land for the college, family and investors and that he did not settle in the area, but it is known in that area that he was attempting to build a college along the Mississippi in Marion County. There is a West Ely there today. His sister Julia and her husband Zabdiel Hyde lived for awhile in Clark Co., Missouri with their son Edwin. His Clark County lands were purchased in 1837 and this one in 1842: W½SE Sect. 12/ TWP. 63-N Range 6-W in August of 1842. He appears that he had bought all of Sect. 12 in 1837. This is on the history of Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri website: "The first church building was completed by Presbyterians in 1839 and was located on fourth street between Hill and Bird. lt was dedicated by Dr. Ezra Stiles Ely." In the 1840 U.S. Census, 'Dr. E.S. Ely' was living in South River Twp., Marion County, Missouri with 15 in the household: One white male 10-12, three 20-30, one 50-60 (himself)// one female 10-15, one 40-50, one 50-60// one free black male under 10// Slaves: one male under 10, one 36-55, two females under 10, two 10-24. There is a marriage contract for Ezra and Caroline Thompson Holmes in the Marion Co Deed Book J, pp. 101 onwards which spells out in great detail his land in Marion County and her possessions. It is signed by her father "Dr. Thompson Holmes .. of the City of Philadelphia." It says a marriage is soon to be solemnized and its dated 17 June 1843. Ely is of "West Ely" in Marion and she is from Philly. It is not clear where they married. It talks of a Mary Ann Mills Ely now wife of James H. Patterson. Mary Ann is mentioned several times. He returned in disgrace to Philadelphia in the early 1840's. A biography of him (Joseph Wilson, The Presbyterian Historical Almanac, 1862 - Ely Vertical File RG PHS, Philadelphia) stated that "in his Missouri adventure he invested his large fortune, and came out a poor man, losing all but his disappointment and losses with fortitude.." (p. 2, typed copy). It says he became pastor of Northern Liberties in the Spring of 1844. He then had a stroke in August 1851 ("The fatal blow fell with resistless force upon his mind, leaving his fine intellectual powers in the maturity a ruin."). It states he withdrew from the public for good then. It took awhile for Ely to be dismissed by the church in Marion County and he was installed 12 October 1845 at the church in Northern Liberties. His "Memoirs of his own life and times" was donated to the PHS by Howard D. Ely, his great-grandson of Elkins Park, PA (RG 309-313-Box 1, F H2 El92l copy, file 317-1-7). In 1850, he was 64, living in Philadelphia with Caroline, Harriet and 'Thomas'. I am not sure where he is in the 1860 U.S. Cenus but he is not listed with Caroline, Harriet and young Zeb in Philadelphia. He died in 1861.