Ezra Boswell is a captivating although elusive figure in Wayne County history. He moved here in 1816 along with many other Quakers, and started a business as a brewer. His brewery was built on Ft. Wayne Avenue where the Richmond Municipal Building currently resides. Mr. Boswell served Richmond's first City Clerk and was a local school teacher. He was married to Elizabeth Kindley and they had 11 children.
The following excerpts are from our research and the contributions of others:
"Right here in connection, I will allude to Ezra Boswell, the one-eyed man who made beer and gingerbread, on Front street. Perhaps there are yet some living in Richmond that quaffed beer and ate his gingerbread. The writer is a living witness of testing the latter. When Richmond was but a small village they had a town council that served free gratis, but a rumor was circulated that they drank beer at the town’s expense."
Wasson, John Macamy. Annals of pioneer settlers on the Whitewater and its tributaries, in the vicinity of Richmond, Ind., from 1804 to 1830: Embracing many biographical sketches, ... population, etc., at the present time. Richmond, IN: Telegram Printing Co, 1875. Print.
Ezra Boswell, Clerk
At a meeting of the citizens of the town of Richmond, for the election of trustees, held at the house of Thomas and Justice on the 14th of the 9th month (September), 1818, it appeared on comparing the polls that Ezra Boswell, Thomas Swain, Robert Morrisson, John McClain and Peter Johnson were duly elected.
-Thomas Swain, Pres.
The “house of Thomas and Justice” thus brought into notice by the foregoing was a new frame building erected on the northeast corner of Main and Front streets, and was designed for a store, thought then unoccupied. In speaking of the owners of this building and the first trustees elected Dr. Plummer said Thomas and Justice were both carpenters, and were both dead at the time of his writing, 1857 and three of the five trustees had also crossed the dark river. Robert Morrisson, whose memory is treasured now, and Peter Johnson were then living; Ezra Boswell, the brewer, with his mutilated eye; John McClain, the blacksmith, with his ample physical frame, were well remembered by the citizens of later date. Thos. (Thomas) Swain, the President, was a dark-skinned, stoop-shouldered man, and one of solid sense. Such was the beginning of Richmond.
Ezra Boswell, deceased, was born in 1788, in England. He learned the trade of a brewer in his native country, and came to the United States in the early part of the present century, settling in North Carolina, where he was married to Elizabeth Kindley. He carried on brewing in North Carolina till 1816, when he moved to Richmond, Wayne Co., Ind., and erected the third frame house in the city, which is still standing on Fort Wayne avenue. He followed his trade in Richmond till his death in 1831. His widow survived him till 1848. They had eleven children, six of whom survive-Anna, widow of Andrew Reed; Daniel K., residing in St. Louis; Rebecca C., wife of Andrew S. Wiggins; Mary, wife of Edward Kindley, who is practicing law in Savannah, Mo.; John K., inventor and patentee of Boswell’s Patent Fruit Drier, now of Thayer County, Neb., and Sarah S., wife of Alanson Sponsler, of Thayer County, Neb. Mr. Boswell was a member of the Friends’ Society and in politics was a Whig. His daughter, Rebecca C., is an active worker in the W.C.T.U. She is one of the Trustees of the Home of the Friendless.
Young, Andrew W. (Andrew White). History of Wayne County, Indiana, From Its First Settlement to the Present Time: With Numerous Biographical and Family Sketches [1872 ]. New York City: Cornell University
"The first brewery in Richmond was commenced by Ezra Boswell about the time the town was incorporated (Richmond was incorporated in 1817 - ed). Of the quality of the beer we have now no opportunity of forming a judgment, but it is said that some of the Councilmen of that day—who, of course, served their fellow-citizens gratuitously—one day sent to Ezra for some of his brewing, and we presume, they quaffed it until they were satisfied, but, like all men in place, they, by this simple act, subjected themselves to the tongue of slander. By the citizens, who took it upon themselves to watch over the pecuniary interests of the place, a rumor was set afloat that the Councilmen were drinking beer at the expense of the corporation."
"The price of beer, sold at taverns, was in that day fixed by the court at 12½ cents a quart, while the same authority rated whiskey, per half-pint, at 12½ cents, the same quantity of common brandy, at 18¾ cents, and cognac, rum, and wine were to be sold at 37½ cents by the half pint. The care of the Court in this particular is further evinced by their allowing George Hunt, clerk, a certain sum for the purchase of whisky, during the sale of lots in Salisbury."
Plummer, John. Reminiscences of the History of Richmond. Richmond, IN.1857.
"I don't know a lot about Ezra Boswell. He was born in Pasquotank Co., NC, 10-30-1775, the son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Nixon) Boswell. Whitewater MM records show that he came here from Miami MM at Waynesville, Ohio, in 1817, although he could have been living here earlier. The city council was actually not organized until 1818, when he became clerk. ur records show that he died in 1834. That is consistent with his will, which is dated April 5, 1834."
"His wife was Elizabeth Kindley, daughter of Edward and Margaret (Waymire) Kindley. They were married under Back Creek MM in Randolph Co., NC, 10-30-1799. Elizabeth was born 5-3-1784 and died 12-29-1858. They moved to Ohio in 1801, accompanying her family. Ezra and Elizabeth seem to have become Hicksites at the separation in 1828. That makes sense, since Margaret, her mother, was a minister in the Hicksite Miami MM. Elizabeth was, through her mother, a first cousin to the large Hoover family here in Richmond, and most of them were Hicksites as well. None of the children of Ezra and Elizabeth remained Friends, although they did stay here in the Richmond area."
Hamm, Tom. Email interview. 28 Sept. 2009.