Peter Forney
Sarah Schrock
John Forney
Susan Beeghley
Elder John Forney


Family Links

1. Eve Horner
2. Elassanne Stahl

Elder John Forney 2

  • Born: 25 Apr 1815, Berlin, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Marriage (1): Eve Horner about 1836 1
  • Marriage (2): Elassanne Stahl
  • Died: 6 Feb 1895, Abilene, , Kansas at age 79
  • Buried: Buckeye Church of the Brethren North of Abilene, Kansas

bullet  General Notes:

John Forney, born 25 April 1815. on a farm near Berlin, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, was of sturdy German Stock. His father, John Forney (Nov 1777- 20 Sep 1846), was born in Berlin Pennsylvania. His mother, Susan Beegley died 27 July 1862. John and Susan Forney were members of the Church of the Brethren.

John Forney was the sixth of a family of eight sons and three daughters. His only education was in the German, with three months English. The Bible was his only reader. In 1846, however, he became interested in the study of medicine, and although he never attended medical college, he was enabled by close application to practice medicine. He had great success in treating cancer.

In 1883 John Forney united with the Church of the Brethren. He soon set for himself the task of memorizing the entire Bible and made marked progress in that direction. He was called a walking Bible concordance. In 1856 he was elected to the ministry. In 1870, in the Silver Creek congregation, Nebraska, he was ordained. He was greatly beloved as an elder and once had seven congregations under his care. He served on the Standing Committee of Annual Conference in the years 1882, 1884 and 1890.

In 1858, John Forney moved to Illinois, first to Ogle and then to Carroll County. In 1869, he moved to Falls City, Nebraska. His last move, in 1878, was to Abilene, Kansas, where he lived until his death. Farming, practicing medicine, and preaching occupied his time. He prospered in all three occupations. He frequently traveled about among the churches of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. By private conveyance he covered thousands of miles in his itinerant preaching. His ability and earnestness won many to Christ. Often his co-laborer was J. D. Trostle.

John Forney was an ardent friend of education and showed special interest in church history. His own lack of educational preparation was a matter of keen regret.

John Forney was twice married. His first wife was Eve Horner, who bore him five children. Elassanne Stahl, the second wife, became the mother of fourteen children. At the time of John Forney's death there were one hundred and three grandchildren, and twenty-four great-grandchildren, although three children, twenty-one grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren had preceded him in death. Paralysis suddenly attacked the veteran elder and he passed away at his home at Abilene, on February 6, 1895.

The following list of children was given to the editor of the Abilene Gazette August 31, 1894 by the Elder John Forney:
Grand Children/ Great Grand children

William Forney-------------------5/5
Christian Forney-----------------8/5
Samuel Forney-------------------10/5
Jacob Forney---------------------4/2
Michael Forney------------------11/5
Susannah Forney Judy-------------6/2
Sally Forney Royer---------------3/0
Harrietta Forney Stump----------13/0
Jeremiah Forney-----------------12/1
Catharine Forney Shick-----------7/0
Mary Forney Neely----------------3/0
John J. Forney-------------------2/0
Benjamin Forney------------------7/0
Abraham Forney-------------------0/0
Peter Forney---------------------0/0
Isaac Forney---------------------7/0
Amanda Forney Arnold-------------0/0
Eles-Ann Forney Miller-----------4/0
Elijah Forney--------------------1/0


The first 5 sons were by Eve Horner. The remaining 7 daughters and 7 sons were by Eles-Ann Stahl.

The editor of the Abilene Gazette wrote the following:

"The above is an unusual and wonderful family record - a record of a family whose members we believe average well as good and useful citizens, and are doing their full share towards making the world better and happier. Elder John Forney was born in Somerset county, Pa. He is a member of the Brethren (German Baptist Church) sometimes called "Dunkards", and has preached the Gospel during a period of more than 55 years--and though in his 80th year, is still a strong and able preacher and an honest man, one of the noblest works of God. May the useful life of the venerable preacher be prolonged yet many years" --- Abilene Gazette.

Elder John Forney is buried in the cemetery behind the Buckeye Church of the Brethren North of Abilene, Kansas.

The following article appeared in the Falls City, Nebraska Journal February 6, 1945. John Judy, the son of Susanna Forney Judy, who was the 6th child of the Elder John Forney, wrote the article:

The Journal Falls City, Nebraska Feb. 6, 1945

The following story relates the history of a family and a colony which came to the county in a great wagon train. Many of Richardson County's residents today are descendants of an early colony, mostly related, which settled at Silver Creek, North of Falls City in the late 1960's.

Editor's Note: The story of a covered wagon caravan, one and a half miles long, which brought a large colony of Richardson County's early settlers out to Falls City is related in the following story by John H. Judy of Topeka, Kansas and formerly of Falls City. It took that great caravan ten days to cross the Missouri River at Iowa Point, Kansas, then a frontier ferry point of importance. The story, as Mr, Judy points out, might well be called the history of one man's family. That man is Elder John Forney and his family and the relatives or descendants of that early colony probably can be found on almost every square mile of ground in eastern Richardson County today.

By John H. Judy

To start we must go back to 1717 and 1720 when five brothers and two sisters arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Switzerland (This may be an error and should be Germany). One of the brothers John Forney and his wife Elanor, her maiden name not known, settled in Berks County Pennsylvania. This family had children Barbara, Jacob, Catherine, and Peter. Peter was born in 1747 and died in 1788. He served in the Revolutionary and was married to Sarah Schrock. After the war he emigrated to Somerset County Pennsylvania and settled on land near Berlin. They had children Abraham, Christian, John, and Peter. John was born in 1777 and died September 6, 1846. He married Susannah Beeghley who died July 27, 1862.

John and Susan had eleven children. The sixth child was John born April 25, 1815 and died Feb. 6, 1895 (perhaps 1896). He married Eve Homer in 1836 at about age 21. About the time of his marriage, he was ordained to the ministry in the German Baptist or Dunkerd Church and who afterward became Elder John Forney and organizer of the Silver Creek Church. He also about that time began to practice the profession of medicine and though primitive in that day, he became an extremely proficient physician and practiced both the divine and physical ministrations to the day of his death.

To this union were born five sons, William, Christian, Jacob, Samuel and Michael.

After the death of his wife Eve, he married Eles-Ann Stahl and she bore him fourteen sons and daughters as follows: Susannah Forney Judy, Sally Forney Royer, Harrietta Forney Stump, Jeremiah, Catharine Forney Shick, Mary Forney Neeley, John Jr., Benjamin, Abraham, Peter(P.J.), Isacc, Amanda Forney Arnold, Eles-Ann Forney Miller, and Elijah.

Elder John Forney bought lands and improved them in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In 1859 he sold his holdings in Pennsylvania and emigrated to Ogle County, Illinois where he bought land at Buffalo Grove near Polo and started improving it by the labor of his sons, while he traveled up and down the state preaching the gospel, helping to organize churches, and healing the sick.

After about three years, he sold his holdings and bought more land in Carroll County, Illinois, East of Lanark. Two of his children, Peter (P.J.) and Isaac were born near Polo. The last three, Amanda, Eles-Ann, and Elijah were born on the farm east of Lanark.

In the spring of 1868, he sold his holdings in Illinois and taking William, Christian, Samuel, Jacob, Michael, and Jeremiah with him, together with Joseph Johnson, Abraham Horner, and John Horner they went overland to Falls City, Nebraska, where they bought more than a thousand acres of land down the muddy creek valley, Steven B. Miles. These were all married, except Michael and the Horner boys. William Forney, being an expert carpenter and builder, was left in charge of the rest of the above named men to build houses on the lands purchased as well as a school house on the Northeast comer of the Christian Forney land North of Falls City.

Elder John Forney then returned to Lanark by way of Highland and Iowa Point, Kansas in Doniphan County, Kansas, where a small ferry was being installed and with whom he arranged for the crossing of the caravan which he was making up to bring the families and the householding materials out. He then went home and got the caravan organized, the largest covered wagon train ever to cross the Missouri River between Kansas City and Omaha. This caravan was more than a mile and a half long.

Those composing the caravan were nearly all related by marriage. William Forney was married to Maggie Wicks, whose mother and father were in the caravan. The father was Jacob Wicks. Christian Forney was married to Sabina Meyers, daughter of Phillip Meyers and wife Betsy, who with two single daughters, Anne and Sue, and three sons, David, John and Solomon also made the trip. Another daughter, wife of Joseph Johnson above mentioned, were members of the train.

Samuel Forney was married to Sabina Teeter, whose sisters Anna Teeter and Mrs. Quince Birdsley and her husband were in the caravan. Anna Teeter afterwards became Mrs. Johnathan Stump and now lives in Stella, Nebraska. Joseph Meyers and wife, who later emigrated to the Holy Land and died in Jerusalem were parties. Catherine Horner, whose son Abraham is mentioned, together with her daughter Susan and her husband, Francis Shaffer, Elias Meyers and wife and Jacob Forney mentioned above were married to Matilda Peck. I am told that Uriah Miller and wife, Michael Lichty and wife were also members of the caravan, but I cannot vouch for that. However it was some caravan.


Of this caravan crossing, I have the statement of a man, a son of one of the owners of the ferry, now 85 years of age, then a boy of ten or twelve years. The crossing was to be made March 1, 1869. This man said they began looking for the caravan about two weeks before, and asked everybody who came along about it. One day a man on horseback came along and said he passed it some ten miles back, and that it should arrive sometime the next day. In the afternoon of the next day it arrived and formed a great circle of wagons, into which the loose stock was driven when night came. First, there were the covered wagons in which the families rode, and in which beds and bedding and cooking utensils were carried. Then there were more covered wagons which were loaded with furniture, feed and seed. Then came wagons without covers which were loaded with plows and other farm utensils. Then came the horses and cows and other loose stock, while youngsters, boys and girls, rode horseback and herded the stock so they would not stray. He said it was a sight he never would forget.

The crossing started the next morning, the ferry boat would only accommodate one team and wagon at a time, and the grades were steep and very dangerous. However, in less than ten days it was accomplished.

My mother was Susan (Susannah), and the sixth of that great family. She was married to Franklin Judy, and she was the only one of that family of 19 children who did not make the trip at the time; but, she was the oldest of the girls my father and mother went up to help pack and get this caravan started. I can remember the three day sale, which was held for the surplus stock and utensils, which they could not take along. People from miles around came and many of them brought property to be sold. Grandmother died at the birth of Elijah, the youngest who was less than two years old.

They crossed the Mississippi at Savanna, Illinois and from there they went Southwest across Iowa and the North end of Missouri to Iowa Point, Kansas. The roads were only trails. From Highland, the caravan went Northwest by the way of Hiawatha, Kansas to Falls City. These people settled on their various lands and became a real community at once. 1


John married Eve Horner about 1836.1


John next married Elassanne Stahl.



1 John W. Simmons Genealogy (

2 (

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