YUBA COUNTY Biographies
GENERAL EDWIN A. FORBES
ALEXANDER R. FORBES
The genealogy of the late General Edwin A. Forbes is traced to the Scottish Highlands. For many generations the male ancestors were soldiers in the Highland regiment of the British army, chiefly the Gordon Highlanders. As an adjutant of this regiment the grandfather, John Forbes, bore a part in numerous engagements, among them the memorable battle at Waterloo. After a service of twenty-one years in the same regiment he resigned his commission and immigrated to Canada, where he served as an adjutant of the East Canadian militia during the Fenian outbreak. At the time of his death he had passed his ninetieth year. From him his descendants inherited mental endowment of no common order, and several of his sons were university graduates and successful professional men.
The father of our subject, Alexander R. Forbes, was born in Scotland and grew to manhood in Canada, coming from that country to the Pacific Coast at an early age. For some time he followed the blacksmith’s trade in addition to trying his luck at various mining camps. For a time he worked in Sierra County, Cal., but in 1867 settled on a farm in the Oregon House Valley, Yuba County, where he added stock raising to the growing of grain. From the time of his arrival in California in 1851, until his death in 1897, he was deeply interested in the growth and progress of the State, in which he bore his part as a public-spirited citizen and progressive farmer. After coming West he married Catherine Kraker, who was born in Germany and came to America at twelve years of age. Their son, Edwin A., was born at Brandy City, Sierra County, Cal., July 20, 1860, and was seven years of age when the family settled on the farm. While still a mere lad he began to assist in the cultivation of the farm and the work of the blacksmith’s shop. A favorite pastime of those years was riding over the ranges after stock, through which work he developed a fine physique and robust constitution. Meanwhile his education was not neglected. During such months of the year as schools were in session he was in attendance and thus acquired a fund of knowledge sufficient to win for him a first-grade teacher’s certificate at the age of eighteen years, his standing being second in the class of twenty-four applicants. For three years he taught school in Yuba County. The savings thus secured were utilized in defraying his expenses in the law department of the State University. During the ensuing three years he taught school in vacations form the university, or, when a school could not be secured, he worked in the harvest fields, and for a time clerked in a law office in San Francisco. By means of the money thus earned he was enabled to complete his law course. In May, 1884, he was graduated from the Hastings Law College.
A month after graduation Mr. Forbes opened a law office at Marysville, and in 1885 formed a partnership with Wallace Dinsmore, under the firm name of Forbes & Dinsmore, and continued for twenty years. During July after his arrival in Marysville Mr. Forbes was nominated for district attorney of Yuba County, and in November won the election, after which he continued to fill the position efficiently until 1892, a period of four terms. As a practitioner his work was varied, including corporation, probate and criminal practice. Owing to the increase of his personal business affairs Mr. Forbes and Mr. Dinsmore dissolved their copartnership January 1, 1905.
Mr. Forbes then retired from general practice, still continuing his private and corporation practice in the affairs in which he was interested. He was the owner of a stock ranch of 5000 acres in Yuba County, the principal owner of the Marysville & Yuba City Street Railroad, a large owner of dredging lands on the Yuba River, president of the New Era Gravel Mining Company, formerly vice-president of the Sacramento Valley Development Association, ex-president of the Marysville Chamber of Commerce, and president of a number of private corporations. Through his efforts the Browns Valley irrigation district was formed and the waters of the Yuba River brought over the dry foothills of Yuba County. He negotiated the sale of the Browns Valley mines. Another important enterprise was the interesting of capital in the development of the Yuba River power resources resulting in the organization of the Bay Counties Power Company. In January, 1905, he became sole owner of the Marysville Appeal, a daily Republican paper founded in the early fifties, and one of the oldest papers in Northern California.
The marriage of Mr. Forbes was solemnized in Sierra County and united him with Miss Jennie Yore, who was born there and is a graduate of Notre Dame College at San Jose. Of their union two children were born, Hazel J. and Floyd. Mrs. Forbes is a daughter of Peter Yore, a pioneer of 1849, who build the Sleighville hotel, and built and owned the Sierra turnpike extending from Camptonville to Downieville. In his community he continued to be a man of influence and prominence until his death, which occurred in 1887 in Sierra County.
Any narrative of the life of General E. A. Forbes would be incomplete without mention of his military career. As early as 1879 he joined Company E, First Artillery, Fourth Brigade, N. G. C. Upon its reorganization in 1882, he joined Company C, Eighth Regiment, which was called out in the railroad strike of July, 1884. From Governor Markham, September 17, 1894, he received a commission raising him to the rank of captain. When the regiment was merged into the Second Regiment, Governor Budd commissioned him captain of Company D. February 3, 1896, he was chosen lieutenant-colonel of the Second California National Guard, and with his regiment enlisted in the Spanish-American War, July 12, 1898, about the same time receiving a commission as major of the 8th California Infantry, United States Volunteers, the commission dating from July 8, 1898. At Camp Barrett he was commander of the Third Battalion and after commanding at Benicia he was transferred to the First Battalion, assigned to Vancouver Barracks. For three months he was in command at that large post and the troops there stationed were from Oregon and Washington, together with detachments of regulars from Alaska. In December, 1898, he was detailed to the command of Angel Island, where he had two companies of the 8th Regiment and one battalion of heavy artillery in the signal corps. There he continued in command until mustered out of the service January 28, 1899. While at Vancouver he served on many important government details, including the board of survey; and with the examining boards he was called upon to drill the battalions when the regular army officers were being examined for promotion form lieutenant to captain.
In the Guard General Forbes had a reputation as a crack shot. As captain of the Marysville company, in 1895, he broke the world’s record for target shooting with fifty men. In sharp-shooting with rifle and revolver he frequently won the championship. Political matters also engaged his attention and such was his prominence in the Republican party that in 1900 he was chosen chairman of the state convention at Sacramento. Under his appointment was formed the executive committee of the Republican party which successfully managed the campaign of that year. In 1900 he was a candidate for congress from the second district of California, but was defeated by one vote in the Santa Cruz convention. Fraternally he was a Mason in Corinthian Lodge No. 9, F.&A.M., and a member of Washington Chapter No. 13, R.A.M., and Marysville Commandery No. 7, K.T. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Foresters of America and Woodmen of the World numbered him among their members, and he was further connected with the Marysville Parlor, N.S.G.W., of which he was president and which he represented as delegate to the Grand Parlor for many years.
Not only in professional circles, but among the general public, it was conceded that General Forbes, as the Nestor of the bar of Marysville, sustained the credit of the profession with dignity and honor. Few men possessed equal gifts and few attain a ripeness of intellect so rounded and so profound. In his success his fellow-citizens took a just pride, recognizing the fact that the residence in Marysville of such men contributes to the prestige of the city. General E. A. Forbes died in 1916, while Adjutant General of California.
History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, 1924
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