Friday, August 19, 2011

How the Forgeys earned their Bread

Cecil Clair Forgey's Store in Freetown, IN

The occupations of the Forgeys reflect the era they lived in. The earliest Forgeys to settle America were generally farmers; a typical occupation for that era. Early America was a nation of Farmers and cheap land attracted those engaged in this pursuit in the old world. Many Forgey families owned large tracts of land. Some of these purchases can be found at the BLM site. According to wikipedia in 1870 70-80 percent of the population was involved in agriculture. 
The Forgeys Scots-Irish heritage can be seen in the occupations of the Forgey immigrant generation. The Scots-Irish in Ireland were often associated with the textile trade. Robert Forgy of PA was a weaver by trade. William Forgy also an immigrant to PA was a Tailor. Whiskey making was another skill which the Scots Irish brought to America with them. Andrew Forgey was convicted of selling liquor without a license and above the rates in late 18th Century Virginia.The Forgey's supplemented their farming income in fields such as Whiskey making, Blacksmithing and Tanning. Such jobs were often a sideline to farming. It looks like Archibald Forgey of Scott County, VA did blacksmith's work. My ancestor Hugh Forgey of Jackson County, IN worked as a Tanner.

By the 1880's a shift was occurring which can be seen when studying Forgey Census records. There is a gradual shift from farming to other modern occupations. Some of the earliest alternative occupations can be found in the mining industry such as coal and metals mining. James Forgey was a quartz miner at the Saw -Tooth Mining company in Idaho. My ancestor Andrew Forgey's sons  Clark and Elisha migrated to Colorado where mining was the primary source of employment. Clark worked as a Teamster and his mother cooked for the miners.
New forms of transportation also led to new job types. Frank Forgey of Craighead Arkansas worked as a fireman on a Locomotive in 1900, and by 1920 he worked his way up to engineer. James Forgey of  Hamblen Tennessee either owned or worked at an auto dealership in the 1930's.
New technology led to many new job catagories. The phonograph led to  an increase in the number of music stores. Harland Forgey of Hamblen, Tennessee either owned or was employed by a music store in 1920. James Forgey of Hawkins County, TN line seems to have been the most prosperous. James had invested in land early on. He owned large tracts of land. His descendants inherited much of the land and parlayed the profits into other investments. Some of the profits were used for education. So this line of the Forgey family was able to take advantage of opportunities available to those with an education.  According to the 1880 Census James R. Forgey was a Stock Trader. By 1900 he is listed as Bank President.
The propensity towards litiagation in this country also resulted in a large legal bureaucracy. James Forgey of Iowa became a lawyer but was later imprisoned for larceny. Several Forgey were Justices of the Peace; one of which was Archibald Forgey of Scott County, VA.
The booming comumer culture of the early 20th Century led to an increase in the number of merchants.  Many Forgey family members were employed as salesmen. A few also were entrepreneurs opening shops of their own. My great uncle Cecil Clair Forgey ran a small store in Freetown, Indiana.

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