(1789-Feb. 25, 1856). Benjamin I. Blythe was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, to Samuel Blythe and Jemima Irwin. The farming and milling family moved to the area that would become Dearborn County in Indiana Territory sometime during Blythe’s youth.

Blythe worked at the center of political activity in the newly formed capital of Indianapolis. Judge Christopher Harrison, one of three commissioners appointed to lay out the town and work as an agent to oversee the sale of lots hired Blythe as a clerk in 1821. Along with the appointed surveyors, Elias P. Fordham and Alexander Ralston, Blythe documented the surveying and mapping of the town and the advertising and selling of lots.

Beginning December 1, 1823, Blythe represented Dearborn County as a member of the House in the 8th session of the Indiana General Assembly. Following the close of the legislative session in December 1824, the state capital moved from Corydon to Indianapolis. Blythe followed by moving to Indianapolis.

The vision to move the state capitol from Corydon to Indianapolis led to the creation of a volunteer group dubbed the Indianapolis Legislature in October 1824. The group of progressive-minded men proposed and debated legislative proposals and their effects on Indianapolis. Blythe was elected its first Speaker. This group endured for a full decade prior to the incorporation of the Town of Indianapolis.

In 1825 Blythe challenged four-time state auditor William H. Lilly for his position. Lilly won by a narrow margin on the fourth ballot, however, he died while in office in February of 1828. The governor appointed Blythe to finish the term. Blythe lost the position to Morris Morris in the third round of balloting for the position in the next term. Morris retained the position of state auditor for 15 years.

After the establishment of a legal form of governance in Indianapolis, Blythe became a member of the first Board of Town Trustees, representing the first ward. He later became the board’s third president.

Blythe combined his role in political leadership with an active role in business. He joined Nicholas McCarty as a director of the Lawrenceburg and Indianapolis Railroad, chartered in 1832. He was a director of the Indianapolis branch of the second State Bank of Indiana, chartered from 1834 to 1858. Blythe worked closely with the Morris family on numerous railroading ventures from the 1830s to the 1850s.

In 1847 Blythe tried his hand at entrepreneurship by starting a grain business, Blythe & Holland, with businessman John W. Holland. The partnership lasted but two years before dissolving.

Revised November 2023

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