Col. Hiram Baldwin Ely


Col. Hiram Baldwin Ely
Hi, aged 35

Hi Ely was raised in a large family in Rutherford, New Jersey. He graduated third in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1917. With his interests lying in acoustical and electrical engineering, he chose to serve in the ordnance branch and was assigned to the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia. There he was in charge of weapons fire control investigation. He subsequently became commander of the arsenal.

While at the arsenal, he invented and patented an exponential sound locator, a pre-radar device used for detecting approaching aircraft.

Following his retirment from the military in 1932, Hi worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City as a research executive. He was later recalled by the military, and served during World War II and the Korean War. He then returned to Bell Labs.

Much more information about Hiram will be added in time. This website is a work-in-progress.

Father: Capt. Addison Ely (1853-1928)
Mother: Emily Jane Johnson (1856-1949)

Spouse: Zelie Bancroft Crosby aka Zelie de Lussan Porter (1899-1962)



Note: Some events and people are not listed to protect the privacy of living persons. 

  • 1896

    March 1 - Born on his mother's birthday in Rutherford, Bergen County, New Jersey. The 10th child of Capt. Addison Ely and Emily Jayne Ely (nee Johnson). 

  • 1913

    Attends University of Michigan for a year. 

  • 1914

    June 15 - Admitted as a cadet to West Point Military Academy. Appointed from New Jersey. 

  • 1917

    August 30 - Graduates from West Point 

  • 1917

    August 31 - Marries Zelie de Lussan Porter at West Point 

  • 1919

    24 March - daughter Hope born. 

  • 1921

    2 August - son Hiram, Jr, born. 

  • 1937

    March - Buys farm property, located 3 miles from Flemington NJ, which they name 'Hi Hope Farm'. 

  • 1962

    13 February - wife Zelie dies.

  • 1987

    April 11 - Dies in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, aged 91 years. 


Hiram B. Ely, Sr. 1908 The Budding Engineer

ca 1908, childhood

The Budding Engineer

Zelie Crosby Porter & Hiram B. Ely, Sr. 1917 - A West Point Wedding

August 30, 1917

A West Point Wedding

Addison Ely, Emily J. Johnson & Hiram B. Ely, Sr. 1917 - Ely Family Portrait

August 30, 1917

Ely Family Portrait

Stories to Come 

  • Letter dated 1 March 1916 from Hiram at West Point to his father
  • His patented sound locator for detecting approaching aircraft
  • His role in the Army during WWII, including receiving the Legion of Merit Award
  • His work at Bell Labs


Leon Ely and Hiram Ely 1898
Brothers Leon and Hiram Ely, ca 1898

Hiram and Addison Ely
Hiram with his father, Addison, at Niagra Falls, ca 1900

Hiram and Harvey Ely
Hiram Ely (left) with his brother Harvey and possibly sisters Mabel and Emily

Last updated: 16 July 2023

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