William Bradford Forsythe , 18001867 (aged 66 years)

William Bradford /Forsythe/
Given names
William Bradford

William and Hetty had 11 children. - Bernice Herndon, 2/2005


The Forsythe cemetery is in Marshall, Il. It was started when my great grandparents lost a child. (William & Esther) - Aunt Helen Ivey 2/2005


William came to Clark County, IL from Kentucky about 1832 after the birth of Rebecca. Death of an infant marked the beginning of the Forsythe Cemetery in 1830.

Chesterfield and Joseph made the trip to California during the gold rush of 1849 but did not go together.

In 1854, Samuel and Clem started the long trip to California. Samuel was 16 and Clem was 17 and had 19 cents.

All four boys drove oxen as a means of livelihood which required walking. They arrived in California in October. They spent 22 years mining gold and Clem returned in 1876 with $8000. Esther never learned to write until the boys left home but became a very good scribe. She was a meek quiet woman small in stature. - From written family accounts


William's brother James Forsythe's Will is recorded in Will Book A, Butler County Records, Kentucky and his brothers and sisters are listed. (he willed William $5.00)

William was indicted for murder of his brother-in-law, Robert Ashmore, over the killing of a calf and he spent 6 years in prison to return home to die the following year. Circumstantial evidence was all that was available being a verbal threat. Robert was killed in ambush. The trial was changed by venue to Crawford County, IL.

When William came to IL, he settled on a land grant from the government which he paid $1.25 per acre. Two original deeds remain in the Norman Forsythe family which were signed by Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson. At that time, the county seat was Palestine, IL. He helped in the founding of the town trading post, (now Chicago), with a load of apples and was offered 40 acres in what is now the heart of Chicago for his wagon and 4 horses. - written by a grandson


25. WILLIAM BRADFORD FORSYTHE (1800-1867) (Joseph, Robert, James)

William Bradford Forsythe was born 29 November 1800 in Butler County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Forsythe. He married Esther Hetty Ashmore 24 January 1822 in Butler County, Kentucky. By 1830 they had moved to Clark County, Illinois where they were enumerated in the 1830 and 1840 Census:

1830 William Forsythe 0000000010000 0010000010000
1840 William Forsythe 2321010000000 2121010000000

A sketch concerning William Forsythe gives the following information:

"William and Esther had five children when they came to Illinois. They left Kentucky with Uncle Lindley Ashmore, brother of Esther, who lived at Kansas station and Oakland, Illinois and John Crews who settled on Sugar Creek in Indiana.

"On coming to Illinois they settled on a land grant from the government for which he paid $1.25 per acre. Two original deeds remain in the Norman Forsythe family which were signed by Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson. At that time the county seat was at Palestine, Illinois. He cooperated in founding the town of Marshall and bought some of the original lots. At one time, he made a trip to a trading post which is now Chicago with a load of apples, he was offered 40 acres in what is now the heart of Chicago for his wagon and four horses.

"At the time they came to Illinois there were still Indians about. "They had five more children born in Illinois. Esther never learned to read or write until her two sons Sam and Clem ran away to the California gold fields in the 1850s. William died in 1867 and is buried in the Forsythe Cemetery and Esther died in 1896."

William Forsythe was engaged in a most unfortunate action, which was the topic of a sketch of Clark County, Illinois.

"During the year 1832 the following accessions were made to the population of the community. Robert Ashmore, William Forsythe, Greenwood Davis, Samuel Galbraith, Elisha Hurst, William Lycan and a man by the name of Francis. Ashmore and Forsythe were Kentuckians. They settled in the eastern part of the township, the former on section 35, and the latter a short distance north on section 25. They made extensive improvements and became prominent farmers but did not always live on the friendliest of terms, as the following will go to prove.

"Forsythe, it appears lost a very valuable calf, which he accused Ashmore of stealing whereupon the latter sued him for slander. This so enraged Forsythe, who was a very passionate man, that he declared he would kill Ashmore unless the suit was withdrawn before court convened, and sent the latter word to that effect. To this threat Ashmore paid no attention, but on the contrary, made every preparation to prosecute the case against his enemy. While in the act of saddling his horse, preparatory to starting to Robinson, the morning court was to meet, Ashmore was shot from behind with a heavy load of slugs and almost instantly killed. Forsythe was at once arrested for the crime, and his guilt clearly established in the trial that followed. The verdict of the jury was murder in the first degree and he was sentenced to be hanged. The sentence was afterward commuted by the governor to imprisonment for life.

“While in the penitentiary he became afflicted with a very loathsome cancer which ate away the greater part of his face, and his condition became so pitiable, that a petition was afterwards circulated in his behalf. This had the desired effect, and the wretched man was released, after an incarceration of eight years, only to die the same year he obtained liberty. The murder and trial occurred about the year 1853."

Though the above story gives some of the details of the incident, the story which has been handed down in both the Forsythe and Ashmore families differs from it to a significant degree. According to Joyce Maienschein:

"The Ashmore and Forsythe families were always on the best of terms-an Ashmore brother and sister had married a Forsythe brother and sister before leaving Kentucky. Robert Ashmore, son of Amos and cousin of Esther Ashmore Forsythe, and her husband William, argued about the loss of a prized calf which William thought Robert had killed or stolen (stories vary here) Robert's reputation was not of the highest, but even so, he accused William of slander and brought suit. William insisted he drop charges, but Robert would not. Someone proposed a duel, just which side is not clear. In any event, Robert was not shot from ambush, according to reports passed down from both families. It seems that Robert deliberately goaded William on the morning of the trial. William was known to have a hot temper, and agreed to or proposed the duel as previously stated. Robert grossly insulted William as he was mounting his horse. There were witnesses. The murder occurred in 1853.

"William was convicted and sentenced to hang, but the case was appealed and because of the circumstances and character witnesses, the hanging was changed to life imprisonment."

"Further appeals by the Forsythe and Ashmore families resulted in a complete pardon by the Governor eight years later in 1861. William was a broken man and lived a quiet life, finally dying of cancer in 1867."

"There was more than some sentiment by more than one person that '...Robert got what he deserved', though the family never condoned William's action."

Esther (Ashmore) Forsythe died 20 April 1896. Her obituary was as follows:

"Esther Ashmore was born in Butler County, Tennessee (actually Kentucky), March 19, 1801 and died at the home of her son Robert Forsythe, April 20, 1896."

"At the age of 19 she united in marriage with William Forsythe and became the mother of eleven children, seven sons and four daughters. Her husband died twenty eight years ago. She lost by death, five children. Four of her children and a large number of her grandchildren were present at the funeral."

"Mrs. Forsythe came to Illinois in 1829 and has lived since within a few miles of Marshall. At the time of her death she was among the oldest residents of the county."

The funeral services took place at the home of her son Robert Forsythe, Tuesday morning April 21, and were attended by a large number of relatives and friends."

William Bradford Forsythe passed away 15 September 1867 in Clark County, Illinois and was laid to rest at Forsythe Cemetery. The children of William and Esther (Ashmore) Forsythe were as follows:

100. Elizabeth (Eliza) b. 1825, Butler Co., Ky.; md. Thomas Perry Dickson.

101. Chesterfield, b. 1826, Butler Co., Ky.; md. 1st. Mary Ann Davis; d. 1909

102. Malinda F., b. 25 Nov 1827, Butler Co., Ky.; md. 14 August 1849, John

Barnet Groves; d. 17 April 1873

103. Joseph, b. 1828, Butler Co., Ky.; d. in California, no known issue.

104. Rebecca, b. 14 April 1832, Clark Co., Ill.; md. George W. Rhoads; d. 11

June 1900

105. Samuel Hardin, b. 1 Feb 1834, Clark Co., Ill.; md. 1st. 27 August 1857,

Susan H. Smith. Md. 2nd 3 March 1886, Mary Ann Doll; d. 18 July 1902

106. William Clendenon (Clem), b. 3 April 1837, Clark Co., Ill.;

md. 26 Dec 1877, Darthula Snedeker Nicholas; d. 31 July 1904

107. Benjamin Bradford, b. 3 Feb 1838, Clark Co., ill.; md.

22 July 1860, Martha Anderson; d. 30 Dec 1894

108. Emaline, b. 1840 Clark Co., ill.; md. Gardner Tucker; d. 1890

109. Robert, b. 1842 Clark Co., Ill; md. Mary Jane Rhoads;

d. 1911

The family of William Forsythe was enumerated in the Census as follows:


Wm. Forsythe 49 Farmer $1500 KY Benj. B. Forsythe W M 22 Farmer $3000 $950 IL

Esther H. “ 48 TN Martha “ W F 19 OH

Rebecca “ 18 IL Esther “ W F 59 TN

Samuel H. “ 16 “ Rebecca “ W F 27 IL

Clendenon “ 14 “ Emily “ W F 20 IL

Bradford “ 12 “ Robert “ W M 17 IL

Emaline “ 9 “ p. 378; #2225

Robert “ 6 “

p. 169; Marshall Pct, Dist 8; #97/97


Esther Forsythe W F 70 Keep House $6000 $900 KY

Rebecca “ W F 30 At Home IL

Robert “ W M 27 Farmer IL

William “ W M 33 Farmer IL

p. 338; Marshall Township; #6/6