Biographical and Genealogical History of Appanoose and Monroe Counties, Iowa.
Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Polly Eckles.
C. Milton Forrest is widely known in Monroe county. For many years he was connected with agricultural pursuits and is now a representative of the Consolidated Coal Company, making his home in Lovilia, and the qualities of an upright manhood have long been manifested in his career, and few men enjoy in a higher degree the respect and confidence of those with whom they are associated. Mr. Forrest is further entitled to mention as one of the native sons of the county and a representative of one of its pioneer families.
He was born in Bluff Creek township, February 1, 1847, his parents being Thomas E. and Susan ( Harris ) Forrest, both of whom were natives of Kentucky. During his boyhood days Thomas E. Forrest accompanied his parents to Licking county, Indiana, where he remained for a number of years, and in 1844 he left the Hoosier state for Iowa, settling in Monroe county. A farmer by occupation, he followed that pursuit throughout his entire life, his agricultural labors being ended in death in 1862. He was at that time residing in Albia. He served as justice of the peace and was one of the early commissioners of Monroe county who located the county seat. While acting as justice his decisions were always strictly fair and impartial, and he was also called upon to perform many marriage ceremonies.
His political support was given to the Republican party, for he strongly endorsed its principles and joined the party upon its organization. He was also a devout member of the Christian church, to which his wife belonged, and they not only contributed liberally to its support but also took an active and helpful part in its work. He mother died on the old home farm in Bluff Creek township in 1888, when sixty-eight years of age. In the family of this worthy and respected couple were ten children: John W., who came home from the army in 1863, but died soon afterward; Millie C., who has also passed away; Washington and Richard, both deceased; Thomas J., who was in the army and has departed this life; C. Milton, of this review; Matilda Jane, who was the latter's twin sister and is deceased; Laura, deceased; Marion; and Mary, who has also been called to her final rest. The family was certainly well represented in the Union army during the war of the Rebellion. John W. enlisted in 1861 and Thomas J. in 1862, and both were loyal and gallant soldiers.
C. Milton Forrest was reared in Monroe county and is indebted to the common school system for the educational privileges which he enjoyed. When not engaged with the duties of the schoolroom he assisted his father in the work of field and meadow, and after completing his education devoted his entire time and attention to farming, which has been his principal occupation since. As a companion, and helpmeet for life's journey he chose Miss Jane C. Cousins, their wedding taking place in 1867. The lady is a daughter of Moses and Nancy Cousins, who were natives of Vermont and came to Iowa at an early day, settling on a farm on which a part of Albia now stands.
Mrs. Forrest was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1849, and with her parents came to Iowa in 1853. In the family were the following children; Moses and Nancy, both deceased; Washington B.; Verness, who has also passed away; Emma, and Mrs. Forrest. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cousins died in 1888, the father at the age of eighty-four and the mother at the age of eighty years. Mrs. Forrest's eldest brother, Washington B., is now a practicing physician of Akron, Ohio. Mrs. Forrest secured a good education and is a lady of more than average intelligence and culture. By her marriage she has become the mother of eight children: Alice, Clara, Agnes, Mrs. Annie Laurie McAlister, Mrs. Elsie Verness Carhart, Charles E., Minnie G., who is teaching school in Lovilia; Nora M., and Nellie I. Mr. and Mrs. Forrest have also ten grandchildren.
Previous to the time of his marriage Mr. Forrest had manifested his loyalty to the government by enlisting for service in the Union army at Albia in 1864. He was assigned to the company under command of Captain N.B. Humphreys, organized at Albia, while the regiment was under command of Colonel Stone. Mr. Forrest was with General Sheridan in the Virginia campaign and at the close of the war was mustered out at Savannah, Georgia, and received his final pay as a soldier in Davenport, Iowa. He has a warm place in his heart for the boys who wore the old blue uniforms, and is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and at the present time is serving as president of the Veterans' Association of Bluff Creek township.
In his political views Mr. Forrest has been an earnest Republican since casting his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln, and he has been honored with a number of offices, because the people recognize his loyalty in citizenship and his capability in the discharge of his duties. In 1885 he was nominated for sheriff of the county, but was defeated by L.T. Richmond. Two years later, however, both men were again candidates for the office and he defeated Mr. Richmond. When he had served for two years he was again nominated and this time defeated W.T. Gardner, so that he filled the office for four consecutive years, and by his promptness and fidelity won high commendation. Throughout the greater part of his life he has carried on agricultural pursuits, owning and operating a farm in Bluff Creek township, but in September, 1902, he abandoned the plow and removed to Lovilia, where he is at present employed by the Consolidated Coal Company.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Forrest are faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church and their interest in this work is manifested by the active co-operation which they give. They are especially well known in connection with the social functions and work of the Veterans' Association of Bluff Creek township and at the meeting held on the 22 nd of May, 1896, when a flag was presented by the ladies of the township to the association, she delivered the chief address, which we gladly give. It is as follows:
“The ladies of Bluff Creek have kindly chosen that I, in their name, should have the pleasant task to present to the Veterans' Association this flag as a memento of our love and esteem. This day, the anniversary of the assault on Vicksburg—May 22, 1863—is one long remembered by all soldiers and their families.
“Many thoughts come to me as I look upon this flag. It recalls to memory the pale cheeks of women and the flushed faces of men as they parted from loved ones and marched away to the boisterous sound of drums and the silver tones of bugles to take part in that great struggle to do and to die for ‘the eternal right,' and we bade you goodbye with breaking hearts, praying God to be with you while ‘His truth was marching on.'
“Many never returned. They are at rest in the land they helped to make free; under the flag they made stainless; they sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of storm and sunshine, each in the windowless palace of rest.
“Soldiers of the Republic! You were not seekers after vain glory, nor were you animated with hopes of plunder or love of conquest, but you fought to preserve the blessing of liberty, that your children might have peace, and to finish what the soldiers of the Revolution commenced; to keep our country on the map of the world and our flag recorded in heaven.
“Grander than the Greeks and nobler than the Romans the soldiers of the Republic battled for the rights of others; the nobility of labor, that mothers might own their own babes and that our nation might be sovereign, great and free. Blood was as water, money as leaves and life as common as air until our flag floated over the republic without a slave or a master.
“Now, as we look upon our flag, it is to us something more than a piece of bunting, a patch-work of colors; it is to us a remembrance of deeds of loyalty, of patriotism, of suffering and of duties nobly done, whether upon the battlefield, in prison pen, upon the lonely picket, or against the treacherous foe on the great plains of the far west.
“'Nothing but a flag, it is bathed in tears,
“The red, the symbol of love and fervency, is a remembrance of the love you have for our country and her flag, and the fervency with which you responded when the first mutterings of the distant storm of rebellion were heard, and the lightening flash and thunderous roar of the guns as they fired upon Fort Sumter. And when the call for troops was made you so bravely responded, ‘We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more.'
“It was a mighty gathering from farms, mines, work-shops, schools, colleges, from the bar and pulpit, all over our fair north, still echoing that response, until over two million fathers and sons were in arms to protect our Union. Many boys there were—no older than those upon this platform—worthy descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; so down through the ages shall the children of the republic sing how well you maintained the constitution, preserved the union of states established by our fathers, kept the flag unsullied and giving the nation a new birth of freedom.
“The white, the symbol of purity, is a remembrance of your purity of purpose, not for personal gain or mere idle pastime, but to preserve our nation as one, that the shackles should be dropped from four million men, women and children; that no longer should be heard the blood-hounds upon the footsteps of some poor human being seeking for freedom, and that no longer should husband be sold from wife, mother from her children, but freedom should be for everyone.
“The blue, the symbol of truth and fidelity, is a remembrance of this love you have for our country, and when you followed our loved flag, through all those long weary marches through winters' snows and springtime slush and mud, through cities and towns, over prairies and on to the field of battle, where the furrows of the old field were as ravines filled with blood, and where you left so many of your comrades pierced with bullets, torn with shell, their life ebbing away among the withered leaves, then did you, with features stern and nerves of steel, resolve that not a star by traitorous hands should be removed from that field of blue.
“But the gallant deeds of the thousands in the forepart of the battle were eclipsed only by the heroic fortitude of the prisoners in ‘Dixie,' in the presence of untold torture, compared to which the whistle of the bullet and screaming of the shell was as the sweetest music. There is no blacker page in the world's history than that on which is recorded the cruelties practiced upon the Union prisoners of war in Libby, Belle Isle, Salisbury and far-away Tyler, Texas; in Andersonville, five times enlarged, ten times intensified, thirty thousand prisoners on eighteen acres of ground, without shelter, but within sight of timber; without water, yet within sight of pure, bright sparkling water; without food, except each day one-half pint of corn meal, ground cob and all; no fire in winter to protect against the cold winds and rains; no shelter from the not blistering sun of the southern summer. Suffering, starving semblances of humanity, yielding your liberty by refusing to renounce your allegiance to the flag and country you loved so well. Grander deeds than these have no man done.
“The stars upon the field of blue are a remembrance that the Creator of all things has blessed your efforts, and not a star was lost, and the cries of the afflicted through all the long weary years have been heard, for He said, ‘The right shall prevail;' and through your trials and sufferings you have bequeathed to your country the legacy of liberty and union, insuring to your children the blessings of free institutions, under which they enjoy greater prosperity, a larger liberty, a higher civilization and a purer Christianity than was ever before enjoyed by a people.
“The yellow, emblem of constancy, is a remembrance that you were constant and true to all duties. As you so proudly marched away under the flying flags, keeping step to the wild, grand music of war, you followed our flag in sunshine and storm, victory or defeat, with as much confidence as did the children of Israel who followed the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. You laid your lives, your honors, your fortunes, upon the altar of liberty and union, that a ‘government of the people and by the people should not perish from the earth.'
“The eagle, a remembrance of the liberty you gained ‘with malice toward none and charity for all.'
“The cord, a remembrance of the many ties that bind this united country together, and may the cords of loyal, enthusiastic sentiment grow stronger and stronger while we are permitted to live, and when the last roll is called may we be gathered in that great camp where the bugle sounds neither ‘reveille' nor ‘lights out.'
“And from the stars and stripes we recall the story of liberty and union as exemplified in the lives of Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and the patriotic sons of the republic, who by their valor and suffering rendered the fame of this trio imperishable, and we look upon the American flag by ‘angels' hands to valor given,' with as much reverence as did the Israelites look upon the Ark of the Covenant.
“This flag, the emblem of this grand nation, is a symbol of the noblest strength and purest love; its every wave and fold speaks to us with more thrilling words than orator ever uttered. It recalls to memory when Lincoln bore our country's burden, and Grant led the army to victory, and to a more perfect union, which is to-day the wonder and admiration of the world. This, the nation's standard, as it floats to-day, reminds us that we are free, subjects of no king but Him who rules the universe.
“Mr. Watson, to you as the representative of the veterans, I have tried to express the love and esteem in which we hold the soldiers of the republic. Words are a poor medium and are soon forgotten, but as you and your comrades look upon the flag, may each color bring to your memory our gratitude and love for you protection. I now have the honor to present to you this flag.”