Ira Ingram was born in Brookfield, Vermont, the son of Phillip and Rachael (Burton) Ingram. Ingram then lived in Tennessee, where he stayed until he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. In New Orleans, he married Emily B. Holt of Tennessee on March 13, 1823. They had one daughter. Emily died in October 1824.
In January 1826, Ingram and his brother Seth moved to the Austin Colony at his brother's recommendation. In 1828, they were partners in a merchandising establishment in San Felipe de Austin (presently known as San Felipe, Texas). Ira ran for mayor (alcalde) of San Felipe de Austin but lost to Thomas M. Duke. However, that year he represented the Mina District at the Convention of 1832 and San Felipe in the Convention of 1833. The next year, he was elected the first alcalde of Matagorda.