Jesse Forkner, a Civil war veteran, farmer, lawyer, and postmaster at Columbus, is a Kentuckian by birth. He was born in Montgomery county, Kentucky, Oct. 29, 1839. His parents were James and Susan (King) Forkner, the former born in Virginia, and the latter in North Carolina, but their birth places were not more than seven miles apart. Their respective parents removed to Kentucky when they were young, and in the latter state they were reared and married, and from that state they removed, in 1842, to Coles county, Illinois, where they settled on a farm. Here Jesse Forkner grew to manhood, obtained a common school education, and cast his first vote, in 1860, for Abraham Lincoln for president. In July, 1861, he tendered his services in the defense of the Union. The Illinois quota for the Union army had been filled, and he and other Illinois "boys" enlisted in the Ninth Missouri, but in the spring of 1862 they transferred to Company H, Fifty-ninth Illinois infantry. In the early part of 1863 Mr. Forkner received an honorable discharge on account of physical disability, but he remained in the service, being on detached duty, looking after government stock in Missouri until the fall of 1865, when, after closing a commendable military record, he returned to his Illinois home and to the life of a civilian.
Soon after his return, and in the year 1865, Mr. Forkner married Miss Mattie C. Tolbert, of an old and prominent family of Vigo county, Indiana. In the spring of 1866, as a young married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Forkner came to Kansas; preëmpted a homestead in the western part of Cherokee county; there developed a splendid farm, upon which they resided until 1887, when they removed to Columbus, where they have since lived.
In 1868 Mr. Forkner was appointed postmaster at Bero. The name of the postoffice was afterward changed to Morton, and still later to Hallowell. Mr. Forkner remained postmaster through all of the changes, and during all administrations up to the fall of 1885, when he resigned, preferring not to serve under the Democratic administration of Grover Cleveland. In 1887 he was elected probate judge of Cherokee county. His administration of the affairs of this office were so acceptable as to gain for him, without opposition, renomination by his party for reëlection, but at the polls he was defeated by the 1890 Populistic political uprising. In 1892 Mr. Forkner was admitted to the bar, and at Columbus he practiced law up to 1902, when he was appointed postmaster at Columbus, which position he has since held, rendering a pleasing service. He has always supported with fidelity the men and measures of the Republican party. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and a Master Mason.
Mr. Forkner has also been interested in merchandising during his day, and is now associated with his son, Henry A., in merchandising in Columbus. As a farmer he has been successful, owning one of the largest and best improved farms of Cherokee county. He has amassed a good estate, notwithstanding the fact that he began life for himself on limited capital. With pluck, energy and determination, he has directed his efforts in life, no matter whether in private affairs or in public office. He is deserving of the high esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens. Mr. and Mrs. Forkner reared three sonsall of whom have developed into successful business men. They are: William T., of California; Henry A., of Columbus, and Jesse C., also of California.Pages 221-222 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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