Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Margaret Brannan Forrest 1777-1859 PA>NY>MO>IL>IA

Part one of this story:
Margaret Brannan had long been a mystery to me. I found her tombstone inscription in the records of Dickens Cemetery in Wapello County Iowa. This was an experience in itself. I had received an earlier list of tombstones in Dickens Cemetery and Margaret was not mentioned. But a second list I received plainly said “Margaret Forrest wife of Thomas died April 12, 1859 81 yrs 5m 9da”. She is buried in the Forrest family plot. For years I felt lucky to have found the parents of William Forrest. Upon revisiting the subject one evening, I found new information about Margaret. Her maiden name was Brannan! Margaret was married in Huntingdon Co Pennsylvania and her husband was born in nearby Mifflin Co Pennsylvania. Now I had two new places to search for data. Without a “place” we are virtually helpless.

In 1850 Margaret is living with her married daughter in Wapello Co Iowa, Mary Ann Forrest May. Thomas Forrest and his son James went to California in 1850 to the Gold Rush and Margaret went to live in Iowa during their absence. All of her children were married in Illinois. All of her sons were born in New York. Her only daughter, Mary Ann was born in Pike County Missouri after the family moved there from New York.

April 26, 1853 in Winchester, Scott Co. Illinois, Thomas Forrest filed an application for a Bounty Land Warrant for his military service in 1814 against Great Britain. In that application he states his birth date of May 5, 1781 and birth place of Mifflin Co Pennsylvania in the Tuscarora Valley. He said he enlisted in the New York Militia on August 1, 1814 to support the Army at Fort Erie. Thomas served in Captain James McMahan's Company, Colonel John McMahan's regiment. He served for 56 days and left New York State in the fall of 1815

Over three years later, on July 7, 1856 Thomas Forrest was issued Bounty Land Warrant No. 33290 for 160 acres of land. On October 25, 1857 Margaret Forrest returned the 160 acre Bounty Land Warrant No. 33290 that was in her husband’s name and received after his death. In her own Bounty Land application, on November 29, 1857 Margaret Forrest declares she married Thomas Forrest on August 24, 1803 in Huntington Co Pennsylvania. She states in this application that her name before marriage was Margaret Brannan. This was in answer to the need to clarify her marriage to the authorities in Washington City.

April 12, 1859 Margaret Brannan Forrest died in Agency, Wapello Co Iowa at the home of my 3rd great grandfather, her son, William Forrest. She is buried in the Forrest family plot in Dickens Cemetery in Wapello Co Iowa. My 2nd great grandmother, Margaret Forrest was named for Margaret Brannan.

June 19, 1860 G W Forrest; Wm Forrest; Mary A May; and the minor children of Joseph Forrest wrote to Washington City to ask why they had never heard anything further about their mother’s application for 160 acres. George W Forrest was living in Oakley, Macon Co Illinois in 1860. I presume he was the person that received it. I have no idea what the heirs did with the warrant. None of them needed the land as they were already farmers in Illinois and Iowa. I believe they probably sold the warrant to a land speculator and spilt the money. I am glad they pursued the warrant. It was something their parents were entitled to. It also provided me with a wealth of information about Margaret Brannan. Without that effort I would not know her maiden name or date of her marriage.

What a strong lady Margaret Brannan was. She moved from Mifflin County Pennsylvania to Chautauqua County New York. She was left in upper New York with three young boys while her husband was off at war. After her husband’s return, she migrated to Missouri, then to Illinois and finally to Iowa. She pursued her right as a widow of a War of 1812 veteran.

The tombstone pictured above has been damaged, but thanks to the person that took the picture the section under the soil is revealed. Here is where Margaret Brannan Forrest rests in Wapello Co Iowa.
Part two of this story:
It was on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 that I received an email from a lady in Marion, Iowa. She is a descendant of Margaret Brannan Forrest thru Margaret's only daughter, Mary Forrest May. She had just received a package that contained the shawl and waist (blouse) once owned by Margaret Brannan Forrest with a handwritten note identifying it as such. She had "Googled" Margaret's name and found my website. I had written the story about Margaret Brannan and Thomas Forrest and posted it there last year. I replied with several other pieces of evidence about Margaret. Beth replied that her granddaughter would inherit the shawl from her, and that at age 11 she could easily fit into the waist. Beth also said that her granddaughter was a normal size for age 11 so Margaret must have been a very small woman. I imagine she was tiny in size -- but big in strength and character. This experience is what makes genelaogy so much fun and worthwhile. Meeting other descendants of my ancestors.

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