Elias Pym Fordham

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Elias Pym Fordham (1787-unknown) was the original surveyor of Indianapolis. He was an English immigrant to the United States and author of an American travel memoir.

Elias Pym Fordham was born in eastern England, one of two sons and seven children to Elias and Mary Clapton Fordham.[1] The family background was of liberal nonconformism in Hertfordshire: see Edward King Fordham. He studied civil engineering under George Stephenson (inventor of the steam locomotive).[1]

Fordham came to the US in 1817 with his sister Maria and traveled to Illinois where he purchased a tract of land known as "the English Prairie".[1]

In April 1821 he along with Alexander Ralston received joint appointments as surveyors of Indianapolis.[1]

Little else is known of Fordham.[1] He was well educated and articulate as evidenced by his Personal narrative of travels in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky : and of a residence in the Illinois Territory: 1817-1818 which was not published until 1906 (now out of print). He eventually returned to England and continued working on projects with George Stephenson.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Sheryl D. Vanderstel. "Elias Pym Fordham", in The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1994. ISBN 0-253-31222-1

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