Biographical & Historical Record of Adams & Wells Counties
Robert D. FORNSHELL, general merchant, Dillman, and one of the self-made men of Jackson Township, was born in East Waterford, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, December 26, 1818. His parents, Joseph and Margery (DOUGLASS) FORNSHELL, were also natives of Pennsylvania, and of German descent. They were reared and married in their native state, and about the year of 1823 emigrated to Peble County, Ohio. The mother died in Highland County, Ohio, and the father's death occurred in Jay County, Indiana. They had a family of three children who grew to maturity. The father was a wheelwright by occupation, which he followed until his death. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The mother was a member of the Presbyterian Church. Robert D. FORNSHELL, the subject of this sketch, lived with his grandparents in Pennsylvania until fourteen years of age. After their death his father took him to his home in Preble County, Ohio, where he remained about five years, and then went to live with an uncle in Highland County, Ohio, with whom he lived until reaching his majority, when he began working on the farm as a farm laborer. In 1842, being anxious to improve his mind and fit himself for business, he attended the common schools of his neighborhood, and later spent two terms at the academy in Hillsborough, Ohio. October 5, 1844, he arrived in Van Buren Township, Grant County, Indiana, where he engaged in teaching school. He was married August 18, 1846, to Mary A. PITCHER, who was born in Morgan County, Pennsylvania, October 29, 1829. Eleven children were born to this union, whose names are-- Amanda M., William O. (deceased), Arthur N., Franklin P., Mary M., James B., Joshua P., Edward M., Robert D., Ida A. and Lavannee C. Mr. FORNSHELL taught altogether twenty-three terms of school, mostly in Van Buren Township, following that avocation during the winter months, and in the summer season followed farming. He bought a heavily timbered farm in Van Buren Township, which he cleared and improved. For two years he was employed as clerk in the store of Robert GILBERT. In 1880 he engaged in the general mercantile business in the village of Van Buren, Grant Co, Indiana, and in 1883 bought the store of Henry TEMPLETON at Dillman, Jackson Township, Wells County, where he still remains. Mr. FORNSHELL is a man of good business ability, and is meeting with success in his present enterprise, doing an annual business of several thousand dollars. While a resident of Van Buren Township, Grant County, Mr. FORNSHELL held the office of justice of the peace for twenty years. Mr. FORNSHELL began life in Van Buren entirely without means, having but $1.37, and from this small beginning he has by perserving industry and good management become one of the prosperous citzens of Jackson Township, being now the owner of the good business, a comfortable home, and forty acres of choice land. Mr. FORNSHELL in his political views affiliates with the Democratic party, and has held several local offices. He has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since 1857, in which year he united with Grant Lodge at Marion, Grant County. He is now a member of King Lodge, No. 246, A.F. and A.M., at Warren, Huntington County, Indiana. He and his wife are formerly members of the Christian Church.