The Village of Forrest

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More Village History

"As told by an old railroad man, George Rex Clarke"
~The Forrest News~ Friday, August 11, 1972 - page 3 & 4


The first man to settle at this site was Charles Jones of Bordentown, New Jersey, who bought the land in 1836. He later sold it to James Beard, who in turn sold it to I.J. Krack. He became the first Station agent and the first postmaster appointed in 1860. The original plat of the village was surveyed for Mr. Krack in December of 1866 by Alfred C. Huetson, Livingston County Surveyor. Mr. Krack also built the first elevator and main street was named after him.

The second settler was John Thompson of New York. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and settled in Forrest in 1837. He cared for the Nathan Townsend family who became the first settlers of Pleasant Ridge Township. The Rudd, Jennings & Bullard families were among the earliest populace of Forrest, along with the Wendels, Zelofers, Melvin & Chalmers Millers, Henry Ulbright and Joseph R. Francis.


George Rex Clarke

The beginning of Forrest must have been about the time the Toledo,Peoria and Western Railroad was built, which I have been told was around the year 1850. The depot for this road was located about where the two elevators are now located, on the opposite side of South Center Street, if I remember rightly. There was also a hotel adjoining the depot,known as the St. Elmo Hotel, which stood on the T.P. & W. tracks and on the west side of Center Street. This St. Elmo Hotel was torn down sometime during the late 90s and a residence was later erected there. The residence erected on this location was built by a Mr. Geiger, who was in the hardware business in Forrest for a number of years.

The first church built in Forrest was the Methodist Episcopal Church, which stood where the present edifice of that denomination now stands. I remember someone saying that the church was built in the year 1868. The next church to be erected was a Congregational Church, which stood where the present Congregational Church now stands. This church was built sometime before the year 1868.

When the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad was first operated, the Illinois Central operated trains over this line between Gilman and El Paso. In 1880, however, Forrest received a new speed forward. The Wabash Railroad was surveyed and built north and south through Forrest. In the spring of 1880, about May 1, the first freight train ran from Bemont to Chicago over this new line through Forrest. The late John Easter, well-known to many of the Forrest people, landed in Forrest that morning from Germany and has told me this fact many times.

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