The Hon. Loron W. Forrest died of heart failure at his home in Smithfield, at 8 o’clock Monday morning, Feb. 22 , 1910. He had been unwell all winter, but was able to be around the house and do some light chores. He came to election Feb. 15th. He arose from bed Monday morning for some medicine and while his wife and daughter were preparing the medicine he arose from his chair and dropped dead. He was a son of Dana and Margaret Forrest, and was born in Smithfield January 7th, 1843. He was a born mechanic and when a small boy built a dam across a run near his father’s house and built a miniature water wheel and saw mill. His father had a large family and was a man of moderate means and could not give him the advantages some boys had, but he made use of what talents he had. He attended the public schools until he was 14 years of age and being obliged to hustle for himself, he hired out to the master mechanic, Warren Hill, who at that time was operating the old Hyatt foundry in Smithfield. The following year, 1858, Mr. Hill commenced building a foundry of his own on the vacant lot west of the old tannery in Smithfield, Mr. Forrest assisting him. After the completion of the foundry Mr. Hill in company with Robert Meterchun commenced the manufacture of stoves, plows, and doing a general repair work in every line. Mr. Forrest became an apt scholar and became an expert wood workman. He remained in the employ of Mr. Hill until the breaking out of the Rebellion. When the Rebels fired on Fort Sumter April 12, 1861, and President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers for three months service, Daniel Bradbury of Athens was the first man to respond to the call from Athens, and commenced recruiting a company. Mr. Forrest hearing that Captain Bradbury was forming a company remarked that if he was at Athens he would enlist in Captain Bradbury’s company. Jonathan King said if he wanted to enlist he would carry him out. Mr. King took him out and the same day he enrolled his name for three months’ service. At the same time Captain Gore of Towanda was forming a company, and on the 23rd of April the two companies started for Harrisburg to offer their services to the government. Upon arriving at Harrisburg the quota had already been filled and they were not accepted, and the two companies were disbanded.
Governor Curtin realizing that the Rebellion was of such magnitude that it would not be suppressed in three months, and that there would not be any body of organized troops to step into the breach, got permission of the legislature to enlist 15,000 men for the protection of the State, and to be turned over to the United states when called for. Captain Bradbury and Captain Gore then commenced recruiting for the three years’ service. The companies were soon filled and Mr. Forrest enrolled his name in the same company for the three years service. In the formation of the regiments Captain Bradbury’s company became Co. F, and Captain Gore’s Company I, 6th Pa. Reserves. The balance of the 15 regiments were soon filled and they were put into one division by themselves and were called the Pa. Reserves.
Loron, as he was familiarly called by the men in the company, was made sergeant in Captain Bradbury’s company. After the disastrous battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, President Lincoln sent a dispatch to Gov. Curtin, saying: “Send on the Pa. Reserves, we are beaten at Bull Run.” The division was hastily convened at Washington and stepped into the breach and prevented the Rebels taking Washington. Loron remained with his company, always doing his duty, and was respected by all the men of the regiment that he came in contact with.
The three years for which the regiment and division had enlisted would expire in the spring of 1864, and all those in the division were given an opportunity to re-enlist in the winter of 1863-64 for three years more, unless sooner discharged. Loron re-enlisted for three years more and came home on leave of absence for 30 days. While home on his leave of absence he was married to Miss Emma Ormsby, daughter of Levi Ormsby, one of the pioneers of Smithfield. At the expiration of his furlough he bade his young wife of a week or two adieu and returned to his regiment, and with them took part in the Wilderness campaign in May, 1864. On May 30 the term of enlistment of the division having expired (the next day after the battle of Bethesda Church) those of the division that had not re-enlisted were ordered to Harrisburg to be mustered out of service. The men of the regiment were loth to part with those that had re-enlisted. Those that re-enlisted out of the division were put into two regiments – the 190th and 191st. Loron was made Second Lieutenant of Company H, 191st. He served with distinction and bravery and was captured by the Rebels on the Weldon railroad Aug. 18, 1864, and was sent to Libby Prison where he remained until Oct. 1st, when he was sent to Salisbury prison where he remained for two months. From Salisbury he was sent to Danville where he was confined until Feb. 20th, when he was taken back to Libby and exchanged Feb. 22, 1865, and was discharged from the service by reason of close of the war April 27, 1865.
After his discharge from the service he returned to Smithfield and engaged in wagon-making for two years, and in 1867 with his brother Charles P. and D. A. Forrest purchased the Hill foundry, which he helped build. The following year, 1868, D. A. Forrest retired from the firm and Jones Castle bought an interest, the firm being Forrest Bros. & Castle. In the year 1872 J. D. Kelley purchased Mr. Castle’s interest and the firm became Forrest Bros. & Kelly. This partnership continued until 1901, when Mr. Forrest disposed of his interest in the foundry, and engaged in farming upon the farm he had previously purchased of his father-in-law. When the fusion between the Republicans and Democrats took place in 1890, they were looking for a man to represent the soldier element on the ticket for the legislature, and he received the nomination and with the balance of the ticket was elected. He served his constituents with satisfaction, and would not receive any free passes from the railroads.
He came of a patriotic family. His great-grandfather came to this town from Vermont in the year 1814, and was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. His father tried to enlist for the Civil War, but on account of his age they would not accept him, but he sent seven sons to represent him and they all came home. They all met in reunion at the home of L. W. Forrest in Smithfield, June 10, 1907. Their ranks remained unbroken until the death of Loron W., which took place Feb. 22nd. His oldest brother, Cyrenius, however, died last Saturday and the funeral was held from the old Christian church Monday. He was buried in the Christian cemetery. Loron W. was a self-made man, and a skilled mechanic. There was no piece of machinery that his trained eye could not penetrate. He was kind to the poor and needy, and any person appealing to him for aid if deserving was not turned away empty handed. He was a charter member of Phelps Post, No. 124, of Smithfield, and a member of the Union Veteran Legion of Athens. His funeral was observed from his late home Wednesday, March 2, the Rev. Mark Schuyler officiating. He was deposited in his last resting place by six of his comrades, three of them belonging to his regiment. He leaves to mourn his loss, his widow and one daughter, Mrs. G. E. Beach, with whom she lives, and five brothers – Marcus A., of Nichols, N.Y., Charles P. of Orient, S. Dak., L. D., of Eugene City, Ore., William B. of Ulster, and D. A. Forrest of East Smithfield; also two sisters, Miss Belle Forrest and Mrs. Annie Titus of Providence, R. I. His loss will be keenly felt by his family and relatives, and also by his friends who are legion, and his counsel and advice will be missed in the Post room.
At a regular meeting of Phelps Post, No. 124, G.A.R., held at East Smithfield, March 5, 1910, it was thought advisable to have a short history of the life and service of their late comrade Loron W. Forrest, and have it published in place of a resolution to his memory, and by a resolution of the Post the Commander was delegated on account of his long and continued acquaintance and comradeship with him, to prepare the history, which proposition was cheerfully accepted by the Commander, it being a worthy tribute to a deserving comrade. Diton Phelps , Com. Phelps Post, No. 124, G. A. R., E Smithfield, Pa., March 7, 1910.
Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.