Thursday, November 29, 2012
They Farmed... what else?
I have had difficulty telling the story of my Jackson County, Indiana ancestors. They didn't fight off indians, the Civil War wasn't fought there. It wasn't the site of any major historic events. I've seen signs like nothing happened here in such and such year, which could be a sign found in Jackson County.
On a family level I know major life events occurred here. Such events were seldom recorded. Diaries, letters and so on are generally the places we find these events recorded. I have a transcript of one letter, that of Isis Browning-Forgey, with instructions she wanted carried out after her death. My family lived in a small town so these events also often made news and were recorded in the local Brownstown Banner Newspaper under such headings as "Freetown facts and fancies". Thankfully these newspapers have been digitized to the year 1923.
After reading the available papers I now have a much better picture of my ancestors lives. The Forgeys in Jackson County were primarily descendants of Hugh Forgey and Elizabeth Wray. A son of Hugh's brother, James Forgey, William was a blacksmith in Seymour.
I am still trying to amalgamate everything I've found into a unified story. My impression of the people of Jackson County is that of a practical, pragmatic people. They didn't have many material possessions. They often lived below there means. They worked hard and enjoyed visiting family and friends during their free time. Hunting, Fishing and Sunday Baseball games (Red Forgey was a pitcher) were also pastimes they enjoyed.
Contagious disease was a major cause of death in early times up to the early twenties. Without antibiotics entire families were wiped out by disease. There was a high child mortality rate as can be seen in the list of deaths for 1884.
The people of Jackson County, in general, were very receptive to new technology. They installed electrical wiring and phones as soon as they could afford to. Complaints were lodged when the phone company raised it's rates from 50 cents a year to $3 per year an increase of 600 percent. Cline Forgey signed the complaint. The switchboard for the phone company was is Rinda Denny's house. The job of operator was a 24/7 job. An alarm would go off when there was a call at night.
It seems the early Forgeys had strained family relationships? Maybe the belief in strict discipline and the never ending farm chores caused rifts. I noticed Hugh Forgey did not refer to Leander and William as beloved sons in his will? He referred to others in such a way. The newspapers seem to support a less than close relationship between father and sons. It appears that Hugh traveled to Arkansas and Oregon without the family. William Forgey disappeared at one point without notifying his family. He also spent time in Iowa as a teenager. It was implied that he was difficult to handle, and needed to apply himself more to his studies?
It was interesting to find some health history too. It surprised me to find out that my great-grandfather was diagnosed with heart trouble in 1900. It's hard to say whether that was an accurate diagnosis. His son, my grandfather, also had heart trouble. He had to have a pacemaker. My Great-Grandmother Isis and her daughter Edna had Diphtheria in 1900. It was said they had it again?
There was talk about my great-grandfather William (Spud) Forgey opening a combination furniture and undertaking establishment. I don't think this ever happened? He was going to go into business with a brother-in-law.
My grandfather shows up in the paper as Dick Forgey in 1923 (His name was actually Charles Lynn Forgey). He was apparently hiding his identity so my grandmother wouldn't find him. I had no idea he had returned to Indiana in 1923 to visit his family. He also went to Detroit to visit brother George (Claude). I don't know how the visit went but he returned to California and in 1925 his wife and daughter joined him. Sounds like he was separated from his wife, my Grandmother, and his daughter, my mother, from 1923 to 1925. There isn't any mention of my grandfather's service in the Marines in the Brownstown Banner. I think my Great-Grandfather was quite angry with my Grandfather. As I understand there were no pictures of my grandfather in the family house. Perhaps my grandfather fell in with a bad element. As early as 1884 there were complaints about drunken teenagers (see article right).
My Great-Great Uncle Leander Forgey seemed to be the most stable of the early generation. He had a large family of 11 children. Being such a large family they encountered every conceivable problem which a family could face at that time. They had numerous illnesses such as TB and Spinal Meningitis. One of their daughters died at age 3. A son died at age 28 of TB. He, John Forgey, was deaf from the age of 9 and attended deaf school in Indianapolis. He learned the printing trade there. He later went west to pursue a career as a Cowboy and contracted TB.
Many of the Forgeys ran small businesses in southern Indiana. William "Red" Forgey (Leander's son) was a very successful businessman. He ran a grocery and Barber Shop in Freetown for 62 years. His brother Clyde ran a Grocery store in Surprise. Their cousin (my Great-Uncle C. C. Forgey) owned a Cream Station. Some of his sons also owned the Forgey Food Liner from 1955 to 1967.
Cline Forgey, another of Leander's sons, was a school teacher and sold real estate and insurance on the side. Sounds like his Aunt Sarah Ellen Forgey/George also studied to be a school teacher in the early 1870's. I don't know whether she ever taught school?
I found out that my Great-Grandfather William Wray Forgey spent two years in the far west, but no other details were given. I would like to know exactly where he went?