(Feb. 1855-Nov. 18, 1930). Puryear was born in North Carolina and came to Indianapolis about 1878. In 1891, he was elected city councilman from the Fourth Ward (bounded by White River to the west; 10th Street to the north; West Street, Indiana Avenue, and Senate Avenue to the east), one of the first African Americans to hold a seat on the council. He served from 1892 to 1897, during the administrations of mayors Thomas L. Sullivan, Caleb S. Denny, and Thomas Taggart.

Puryear & Porter bill for packing and storage of Madam C.J. Walker's personal furniture, July 3, 1917
Credit: Madam C.J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society

In 1894, during his tenure on council, he started the packing and transfer business of Harris & Puryear, which was succeeded in 1908 by the successful and well-known firm of Puryear & Porter. The latter partnership was in business until 1928. Puryear attended Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a member of the Columbia Lodge, Knights of Pythias, and the Lincoln Union, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Upon his departure from the City Council in 1897, the street on the city’s near northside that he had proposed be named Midway was instead voted by the council to be named Puryear.

Revised February 2021

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