John Forcht, living on section 34, Granville township, has been a resident of Putnam county and this part of the state for almost six decades and therefore events which are to others matters of history are largely matters of experience to him, for he has witnessed many of the changes which have occurred and has participated in the onward march of progress as Putnam county has advanced from its primitive condition into a well-developed region.
Born in Butler county, Ohio, on the 15th of February, 1842, he is a son of Frederick and Marie (Holly) Forcht. The father was born in Germany in 1810. The mother, also a native of that country, was a daughter of Daniel Holly, who emigrated from the fatherland and settled in Butler county, Ohio, in 1832, both he and his wife dying in that state. Frederick Forcht remained a resident of Germany until twenty years of age, when as a young man he came to the new world and settled in Ohio. There he was married and in 1847 came with his family to Putnam county, Illinois, settling upon a farm of eighty acres of land in Granville township. It was nearly all covered with timber, but he cleared away the trees and brush and continued the arduous task of developing the fields until his life's labors were ended in death. In the year in which they located upon the Granville township farm Mrs. Foreht died and in 1849 the father married Miss Lena Ackerman. Both parents of our subject were members of the Mennonite church in Granville. There were four children of their marriage, of whom three brothers are yet living: Frederick, now a resident of Kansas; John, of this review; and William, who is living in Arkansas.
John Forcht was five years of age when brought to Putnam county by his parents. When he was eleven years of age his father died and the family was then broken up. The father was in limited circumstances and was vigorously carrying on the work of clearing up the land and developing a farm, but his tract was still in such a condition that the land as yet had little value and the children were thus left penniless. John Forcht went to live with an uncle, Michael Hirschy, in Granville township, where he remained until sixteen years of age, during which time he had liberal training at farm labor. On the expiration of that period he began farming by the month as a farm hand for others and was thus employed until 1862. In that year his patriotic spirit was aroused in behalf of the Union cause and he offered his services to the government, enlisting in Company D, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was with the command at Hartsville, in the Tullahoma campaign, the Chickamauga campaign, and in various battles and skirmishes, including the engagements at Davis Crossroads, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. He was likewise in the Atlanta campaign, participating in the battle of Buzzard's Roost, Rocky Face, Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain and Peach Tree Creek. He was with Sherman on the march to the sea, to Savannah, and through the Carolinas to Washington D. C. While at the front he became stricken with what is known as night blindness and was not able to see after sundown. He was then detailed to act as nurse in the hospital, and there served until mustered out, after the close of the war, on the 6th of June, 1865. He had proven his valor on the field of battle and throughout the period of his service his loyalty was ever above question. Both of his brothers were also in the army, Fred being a member of the Sixty-fourth Illinois Infantry and William, a member of the Forty-second Missouri Regiment.
When the war was over Mr. Forcht returned to La Salle county and for a number of years operated a threshing machine and corn-shelling outfit. Going to Livingston county, he bought a tract of land, upon which he resided for two years, and in 1874 he returned to Putnam county, where he purchased a farm of forty-seven and a "half acres, upon which he now resides. Here he owns one hundred and six acres of land. The soil is rich in those qualities that produce good crops of grain and is kept in excellent condition through crop rotation. Mr. Forcht now no longer does any of the work of the fields but is. taking life easy, having a man and his wife employed upon the farm in order to raise the crops and care for the house.
In his political views he is an earnest republican and has served as highway commissioner. He is now school director and practically does all of the work pertaining to the district. His fraternal relations are with the Grand Army post at Hennepin. He is as true and loyal to his country in days of peace as when he followed the old flag on southern battle-fields and in all the walks of life in which he has been found he has made a creditable record, while his business interests have been crowned with a gratifying measure of success.
Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 473.