John McEver Forbes Journal

Submitted by Charlotte Collins Bond

I live on the land in Madison County that was originally deeded to Andrew McEver by the Governor of GA. Andrew was my fifth great grandfather and his life has been fodder for many years of research. Over twenty years ago I acquired a small portion of the John Forbes Journal that had been printed in a newspaper somewhere, but there was only enough to whet my appetite for the rest of the journal. I found several portions of it on the internet and other sources, but only this past year did I acquire the complete journal when a cousin in California sent it to me. The McEver family is so very vast and is now spread all over this country. I feel compelled to share this information with other family researchers. The 87 year old John Forbes wrote this journal for his family on September 28, 1887.


To all that it may be interested to know my ancestry, I will give a short biography, as far as I have been told and know:

I am the grandson of Colin Forbes of Scotland, who was a merchant, and lost his goods by shipwreck that broke him. He had two brothers that were merchants also. They proposed to give him a stock of goods, which he refused saying it would not be said that he had taken a brief. He left Scotland and moved to Ireland, and from there to America, before the Revolutionary War and stopped in Elbert County, GA. He had three sons, John, James, and Arthur, and one daughter, Elizabeth. He was a poor man and afflicted. He said to his sons that he wanted to give them a practical education and that would be all he could do for them. John and James received an education at Athens Georgia. Arthur said to his father: 1/2Give me a good English Education. 1/2 His daughter was a good English scholar and had an extraordinary mind, could retain and refer you to any passage of Scripture you would mention to her. She could tell you the book, chapter, and frequently the verse where it was.

They were all Presbyterians. Uncle John Forbes was licensed by the Hopewell Presbytery to preach the gospel before he moved West. Arthur Forbes married Catharene McEver, a daughter of John McEver of Elbert County, GA, who was an Englishman and married an Irish girl by the name of Margaret Collins, and moved to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War and fought under George Washington for our independence. He had a good farm and well improved with all necessary out houses for stock and wood shed. He built a dwelling house of limestone rock over a large limestone spring forming the basement into a cooking and dining room under the floor of the dwelling. He stood security for a man that was good for 500 pounds sterling and had that debt to pay. In order to pay the debt, he had to sell his good home and he determined to move South. He prepared two wagons and eleven head of horses to move with. Winter came before he got ready to start. The snow was axle-tree deep when he started and he got to Rockbridge County in Virginia, rented a farm to make a crop and when the crop was laid by he left eleven head of horses in the pasture and took it afoot to walk to French Broad, looking for a country to stop in. At that time Kentucky and Tennessee had no marked nearer than Augusta, Georgia and he said Georgia was the best country of the three for the poor man. He consequently geared up and left Rockbridge County in Virginia for Georgia and stopped in Elbert County GA and commenced farming and bought a good tract of land in Jackson County and paid for it in tobacco. This was on Mulbury fork of the Oconee River, adjoining the Cherokee Nation, ten miles from the Hog Mountain and moved to it and built a good framed house on the Pennsylvania. The corner posts, 12 inches square, guttered out 4 inches. The posts, 8 inches by 4, that being the common size of a brick to fill up between the posts to plaster on.

When Louisiana was purchased by the United States, he went to look at that country and made a purchase of two or three leagues of land, it being a French claim, and put a man in possession to hold it for him till he could come home and dispose of his effects and move to Louisiana. On his way home he put up for the night with a man living on the Tennessee River. That night his mare was stolen. In consequence of rheumatic pains, he could not walk as he had walked. He wrote home for one of his sons to meet him thirty or forty miles up the Tennessee River at a certain place up the river from where he was with the horse. He bought a canoe from the man where he had stayed all night, that he might go up river to the place that he had written to his son to meet him, with instructions, if he was not there, to come down to the man 1/2s house where the mare was stolen. In that letter he wrote home for a horse, he wrote what purchase he had made; that he had bought a home for every grandchild and great-grandchild that he should have. His son came to the first place as requested, and could not hear anything of his father as he had expected. He went to the man that sold the canoe to his father and he took his saddle and saddle bags and all that he had with him and started up the river to go to the place where he had written to his son to meet him with a horse. The second or third day after he started up the river, the canoe came floating down the river bloody with nothing in it and he knew that it was the canoe he had sold McEver. So all was lost, his papers that would identify the number of leagues and the Parish that the land was in with the man 1/2s name that was left in possession of it. His son had to return home with a sad heart without his father. About twenty miles from the house where his father 1/2s mare was stolen he heard a horse neigh a short distance from the road. He rode out to see the horse. Low and behold! It was his father 1/2s mare that was stolen. He unloosed her and she followed him home. This was in the Cherokee Nation about the year 1807 or 1808.

Your great-grandfather, John McEver and great-grandmother, Margaret McEver, had twelve children to be men and women; eight sons and four daughters, as follows: They married and settled as follows: The first, named Andrew McEver, married Prudence Dickason and settled in Franklin County, Georgia and was cut off into Madison County, Georgia; John McEver married Mary McDowell and settled in Jackson County, GA and moved to Cobb County, GA; Catherine McEver married m
y father, Arthur Forbes and settled in Jackson County, GA; Isabell McEver married Lewis Pearce and settled on the Tom Bigby River in Clark County, Ala.; Brice McEver married Lucie Burrough and settled in Hall County, GA.; Margaret McEver married Robert Huie and settled in Fayette County, Georgia. Robert McEver married Celia Wadsworth and moved to Illinois. James McEver died a young man and was buried on the Mulbury fork in Jackson County, GA; Nancy McEver married John Hombrie and settled near the Stone Mountain in DeKalb County, GA. William McEver married Patsy [Martha] Dickson and settled on Snapfinger Creek in DeKalb County, GA. Samuel McEver married Anna Hays and moved to Illinois. Joseph McEver married Polie [Polly] Ecels [Echols] and remained on the homestead in Jackson County, GA. They were all farmers and married farmers 1/2 sons and daughters and were all good men and women and worked Mother Earth to get their living and she supplied them bountifully. They were all members of some church, mostly The Presbyterian Church. My father, Arthur Forbes, who married my mother, Catharine McEver, and lived on the Mulbury Fork of the Oconee River in Jackson County, GA., was your great-grandfather and commenced farming. When his crop was laid by, he taught school. There was no cotton cultivated then. Tobacco and Indigo was the market crop for exporting. My father was a candidate for County Surveyor. He was elected. His commission came to him when on his death bed. Jackson County was a frontier country adjoining the Cherokee Nation, and was a large county including a large portion of Hall, Gwinnette and Eatton counties which was at that time a lucrative office, more so than any office in the country. All vacant land in that territory was subject to be taken up by head right. If you had not laid your head right in any vacant land in the county you wanted, prove your right and get the county surveyor and he would win it off and give you a plat and that would be the foundation of your title. Take that plat to the Governor and he would give you a grant to that land and that would be your title in full.

My father, Arthur Forbes, departed from his temporal life into an eternal life in the year of our Lord 1803, in the first part of that year and buried in Jackson County, GA.

I, John McEver Forbes was born the 12th of Nov. 1800. Some two or three months after my father 1/2s departure, my sister, Margaret Forbes was born in April. We had no earthly father to train and protect us, but I thank God that he fulfilled his promise that he would be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. We were [not] born with a silver spoon in our mouths but we had a good mother that was better. The first public act that she performed after my father 1/2s exit from time to eternity was to dedicate us to God in baptism.

I will be forever grateful to John Forbes for having the foresight to hand this oral history down to his children and to the generations of McEvers who have followed and will still follow. I realize that he scribed the information he had been told, but John McEver was not an Englishman. It could have been possible that he emigrated from England with his father Andrew but their origin was Scotland. The choice of church they attended bears this out. Most of the McEvers were Presbyterian.

John 1/2s eldest child, Andrew McEver, was my fifth great grandfather and I now live in the house that contains the log cabin he built in Franklin County and later moved down the Hudson River with the help of the local Indians and moved it to the Madison County side of the river.

                                                                                                           Charlotte Collins Bond

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