The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update


December 28, 2013

John W. Forrest and the lost town of Forrestville

Although Madison County was established in 1823, the northern part of the county was settled later than the southern townships. It was part of the Miami reserve, which wasn’t open for settlement until the late 1830s. To the early settlers Boone Township must have seemed like the Garden of Eden. Both Lilly and Duck Creek ran through the township. The timber was thick and fine. Game was plentiful. True, it was remote from cities and towns. A trip to Anderson took two days. There were no stores, churches or schools, but the soil was good and it promised to be a fine place to live.

John W. Forrest was one of the early settlers to Boone Township. A Virginian by birth, Forrest came to Madison County in the late 1840s. He purchased 160 acres in Boone Township and settled down to farm. A strong, vigorous man, he seemed ideally suited to the primitive conditions of early Boone Township. He and his sons had to clear his land of trees before the family could even plant a crop. In order to have his wheat crop processed into flour, he had to load it on a wagon and guide the wagon across roadless, wooded terrain to Jackson’s Mill near Anderson. In addition to his own work he was a helpful neighbor as well. In one year, he helped at twenty-six log rollings. (A log rolling was a gathering to help a family build a house.)

In the Boone Township wilderness, Forrest established two new institutions—a Missionary Baptist Church and the town of Forrestville. The church was established in 1850 by the Forrests and two other pioneer families. They met in private homes and school houses until 1858 when a frame church was built on John Forrest’s property. It was built at a cost of $1,400, which was a goodly sum of money in the 1850s. Forrest was a trustee of the church, the superintendent of the Sunday School and occasionally the minister.

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