Marshall County

FORBES, Isaac M.

Isaac M. FORBES, general farmer and stock dealer, is one of the best known men in Marshall county, being a man of rare business tact and ability and one of the best judges of stock in the state. Often he is called upon to act as judge of Shorthorn cattle at state fairs and fat stock exhibits, and his judgment in such matters is seldom called in question. He is a native of Hopewell township, Marshall county, born on the farm where he now resides, September 19, 1847, and is a son of Peter and Sarah (BUCKINGHAM) FORBES, the former a native of North Carolina, and the latter of Pennsylvania.

Caleb FORBES, the grandfather of our subject, was of Scotch descent, but reared in North Carolina, where he married Elizabeth LINDSEY, and there reared a family of four children. The family came to Marshall county in 1831, by wagon from North Carolina, and settled upon section 15, Hopewell township. The tract was all timber land, none of which was of recent growth. The Indians and wild animals were numerous at this time. Caleb FORBES was the first settler in Hopewell township, and there lived peacefully with the Indians, never having any trouble from their presence. He improved his far, and there resided for many years, finally, however, retiring from active work and moving to Henry, where he died at the residence of his daughter, at the age of about eighty-three years. His wife also died at about the same age and their bodies were interred in the cemetery on his farm, known as the Forbes cemetery.

For some years after coming to Marshall county, Caleb FORBES operated a horse mill, the first in this locality. It was well patronized by the old settlers for many miles around. In early life he was a member of the Baptist church, but later became a Universalist and died in that faith. He was one of the best read men in scriptures and was well read in the general literature of the day. Of the four children born to Caleb FORBES and wife, William, Courtney Martin, Mrs. Fannie SAWYER and Peter, are all deceased.

Peter FORBES, the father of our subject, was the youngest child of the family, and was twelve years of age when he came with his parents to Marshall county. His education in the schools was very limited, but he was a natural mathematician, and delighted in solving intricate problems. He married Sarah BUCKINGHAM, a native of Greene county, Pennsylvania, born in 1820, and a daughter of Isaac BUCKINGHAM, who was of English descent. Her father removed to Woodford county, Illinois, in 1831, locating near Washburn, where Mrs. FORBES grew to lovely womanhood. After their marriage they settled upon the farm now owned by our subject and lived for some years in a sawed oak timber house. His father gave him eight acres of land, which was then unimproved, and was by him cleared of timber and brought under cultivation. In addition to his farming operations, he traded in stock and was for years one of the foremost men in this locality. In the early day he used to haul wheat to Chicago and sell it there for thirty-seven and a half cents per bushel. He also drove many a herd of cattle to that city, and was a heavy shipper of stock. Success crowned his efforts and at his death he was the possessor of two thousand two hundred and eighty acres of land, the greater part of which was accumulated during the last ten years of his life. He died November 7, 1860, and his estate was valued at about eighty-seven thousand dollars. His wife survived him several years, dying March 9, 1871. They were the parents of ten children, six of whom grew to maturity. Mary Elizabeth, who married John KENNEDY, died, leaving seven children. William, who married Laura MAYES, now lives in Harper county, Kansas, and they have two children. Ruth, now the wife of Irving BROADUS, lives in Lacon, Illinois, and they have five children. Isaac M. is the subject of this sketch. Caleb married Ellen E. GREEN, who died, leaving three children. Sarah Eleanor, now the wife of Samuel M. CROFT, lives in Harper county, Kansas, and is the mother of six children. In politics, Peter FORBES was a democrat, and held many of the township offices, including supervisor. He was a well posted man, and his death was mourned, not alone by his family, but by many friends as well.

The subject of this sketch was born September 19, 1847, on the farm where he now resides. After receiving his primary education in the public schools of Marshall county, he entered Lombard university of Galesburg, Illinois, where he finished his course. From the time he was fourteen years old he handled and traded in stock, and was always successful in that line. After leaving college, he traveled for a year, and subsequently, in 1870, married Miss Fannie M. THORP, a native of Ohio, and daughter of James and Margaret Jane (VANCE) THORP, the former a native of New York, and the latter of Virginia. They were married, however, in Erie county, Ohio, and in 1857 came to Marshall county, Illinois, making their permanent home at Henry, where both subsequently died. They were the parents of seven children, of whom four grew to maturity – James, who married Jane IRWIN, now lives in Jewell county, Kansas; John, who married Elizabeth KLEGG, now resides on a large farm in Livingston county, Illinois; William, who married Margaret FORD, now resides in Peoria, Illinois, and Fannie M. is now Mrs. FORBES.

Mrs. FORBES, who was born March 31, 1851, in Eerie county, Ohio, received her education in the public schools of Henry, Illinois. After her marriage with Mr. FORBES, they settled upon the home place of her husband. But one child came to bless their union – Rankin Caleb, who was born January 4, 1882. For the past fourteen years Mr. FORBES has been engaged in raising thoroughbred stock, especially Shorthorn cattle. At the present time he has a large herd upon his place, comprising upwards of a hundred head and he has made many sales in Chicago and elsewhere. Of his farm of seven hundred acres the greater part of it is used for grazing purposes.

Politically, Mr. FORBES is a democrat, and for years has taken an active part in political affairs in his township and county. He has been road commissioner, assessor and supervisor, serving in the latter office for three years. He has been urged by his friends time and again to make the run as a member of the general assembly, and also for the state senate, but has invariably declined the honor. For some years he has been in partnership with his brother Caleb in the stock business, in which line they have met with the best success. They are both business men of acknowledged ability and thoroughly understand the business in which they are engaged. Few men have the confidence of their fellow-citizens in a greater degree than the FORBES brothers. A daughter of Caleb FORBES, Miss Mabel, is a young lady of great natural ability as an elocutionist, and her rendering of “The Two Portraits” is rarely excelled.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. FORBES is an ideal one, both being highly educated and yet keep up their reading in the standard and current literature of the day.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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