Ceremony to commemorate Eli Forbis

The 1878 History of Fayette County credits Eli Forbis and John Little as being the first settlers of Sefton Township.

According to the book, the two men came to the county together in 1830 and settled on Section 19, both building cabins and making improvements that year.

From research done by Ben Forbis, we know that Eli and wife, Jemima Gardner Forbis, came to Fayette County from Christian County, Ky., where their youngest son, Eli Harper Forbis, was born.

Before moving to Kentucky, the family had lived in Rutherford County, N.C., for a number of generations.

Known children of Eli and Jemima are: Evaline, who married Lewis Barton; Keziah, who married Patrick Hollin; William Barton, who married Margaret Morrison; Jehu, who married Sarah Nowlin; Jeremiah; John W., who married Nancy Taulbee and Eli Harper, who married Mahala Radliff.

The Forbis Cemetery was laid out in 1832, when the infant daughter of Robert Green died. “Soon after, John Little lost a little girl. The first grown person, Eli Forbis, died in 1834 and Mrs. Hollingsead in 1835.”

The Forbis family has always known that Eli is buried in the center of the cemetery, at the top of the rise, although his grave was never marked.

When his wife, Jemima, died in 1843, she was probably buried beside him, but her grave was not marked either.

This cemetery is recognized as the first cemetery in the township, and is located at the junction of County Roads 1250E and 2075N, north of Bluff City. Although the first burial took place in 1832, the Forbis Cemetery was officially organized in 1867.

Across the road and east of Forbis Cemetery stands Bethany Church, built in 1893. Adjacent to it is the newer part of Forbis Cemetery.

The county plat book shows that a creek was also named for this pioneer family. With its source in Section 18, Forbis Creek meanders northwestward before curving back south and entering into the Vandalia drainage system on its way to the Kaskaskia River.

This coming Saturday, Nov. 10, a ceremony to unveil a tombstone to honor Eli Forbis will be held at Bethany Church, beginning at 2 p.m.

Ben Forbis is spearheading this effort to honor his great-great-grandfather by erecting the monument. Inscriptions on the stone will also honor Ben’s Civil War grandfather, Eli Harper Forbis, who died April 30, 1862, at Mound City.

All veterans buried in Forbis Cemetery will be commemorated at the ceremony, and their names will be read aloud. By Ben’s count, there are 26 Civil War veterans and 36 veterans from other wars buried in the old and new parts of the cemetery.

Ben, with the assistance of Billyanna Dugan, has a nice program planned in commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the establishment of this historic burying ground.

Chairs will be provided, and in the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved into Bethany Church.

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