March 16, 2024 at 5:02 a.m.

Jacob & Maria Forney and their Legacy

Jennifer Baker, DAR Vesuvius Furnace Chapter | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Jacob & Maria Forney and their Legacy

Compiled by Jennifer Baker, DAR Vesuvius Furnace Chapter

Jacob Forney and his wife Maria were among the first settlers to what is now Lincoln County - arriving here about 1752 following John Beatty and Adam Sherrill. The couple met on a ship to the New World. They married when they landed in Philadelphia and eventually made their way south. In this wilderness, there were wild animals and Native Americans who shared the land with these newlywed pioneers. By 1768, so many pioneering families had embraced the area that the Colonial Assembly of North Carolina decided that the part of Mecklenburg County west of the Catawba River and the south of the Earl of Granville line would be named Tryon County in honor of William Tryon, appointed governor of North Carolina.

The following year, Jacob Forney along with Thomas Neel, Henry Clark, William Yancey, Daniel Warlick, John Gordon, and William Watson were appointed Commissioners to contract for the building of a new courthouse, prison, and stocks for Tryon County. They were authorized to levy a tax of two shillings on each taxable poll to fund the expense. Until the courthouse was built, court was held at the homes of prominent citizens. Jacob Forney remained engaged with local government and was part of the  August 14, 1775 Tryon Committee of Safety. Forney and his contemporaries signed what became known as the Tryon Resolves protesting the British and agreeing to reinforce their actions with force if necessary.

In 1779, the General Assembly at Halifax determined that Tryon County should be abolished, and Lincoln and Rutherford Counties were created from between its borders. A small section of Burke County was included in this action. This was done in part to eliminate the name of William Tryon the colonial governor who was odious to the patriots of the American Revolution.

In January 1781, Cornwallis spent three days at Ramsour’s Mill. General O’Hara camped at the Reep homestead located two miles from the mill. Tarleton crossed over the South Fork River at Cobb’s Bottom to the hill where the city of Lincolnton now stands to join Cornwallis. On the 28th of January, Cornwallis led his forces east to the home of Jacob and Maria Forney. They camped there for three days. Not only did they forage from the Forney’s livestock,  they helped themselves to all of Forney’s valuables and food stores. After three days, they headed out six miles down the road to the Battle of Cowan’s Ford where General William Davidson of the patriot forces was killed in action. Both Jacob and Maria Forney are considered patriots by the Daughters of the American Revolution for suffering and depredation at the hands of the British. Their pioneering spirit and sense of freedom was instilled in their children:

· Major Jacob Forney Junior was born on the 6th of November in 1754. He served in the militia and later as the Sherriff of Lincoln County from 1824-1826. He married Mary Corpening and they had eleven children. In 1825, they built the house known as Cedar Grove.

· Susan Maria Forney was born about 1755 and married John Abernathy who is also a proven patriot of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The couple had at least two daughters. He has a tombstone both at Hills Chapel and at Unity Presbyterian Church,

· General Peter Forney was born April 21,  1756 and not only served honorably in the American Revolution but represented Lincoln County in the US Congress from 1813 to 1815. He married Nancy Abernathy and had 12 children. The couple is buried with one of their sons a few miles from Jacob and Maria’s graves.

· His brother was Major Abram Forney who was born on the 15th of October in 1758 and fought at Ramsour’s Mill and at the Battle of Kings Mountain. He married Rachel Gabriel and had at least one son. The couple is buried at the location of their homestead in Denver.

· Katherine Forney was born on the 30th of March in 1760 and married Robert Rosamond who also served in the American Revolution in Richard Henry Lee’s Troop of Light Dragoons under the command of Colonel Theodorick Bland. The couple had at least one son.

· Elizabeth Forney was born on the 22nd of March in 1761 and married Corporal John Young who served on the NC line during the American Revolution under Colonel Sumner. The couple had at least two children and relocated to Robertson County, TN.

· Christine Forney was born about 1762;  she married David Abernathy who also served in the Revolution under General Rutherford. The couple had at least three children. They relocated to Giles County, TN.

· Eve Forney was born about 1766 and married Private Robertson Goodwin who also served in the Revolution in the North Carolina Continental Line under Colonel Archibald Little also of Lincoln County. The couple had at least one daughter.

These children and their children and their children’s children  lived in Lincoln County and beyond making an impact…In August of 1928 near the old Dutch Meeting House and the Machpelah Presbyterian Church, a memorial was erected in honor of this couple bearing the following inscription:

“In memory of Jacob Forney, French Huguenot and pioneer born in Alsace in 1721, died in North Carolina in 1806 and his wife Maria Bergner.”

The Lincoln Landmarks organization will present a Spring Tour of four historic sites on Saturday April 20th.  Among the four historic structures included in the tour will be the Machpelah Church on Brevard Place Road just off NC Highway 73.



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