Biography of Elmer Ellsworth Fornshell

ELMER ELLSWORTH FORNSHELL As postmaster of Elwood since 1905 Mr. Fornshell has performed a large amount of useful public service for his home city, and has managed the affairs of his office to the best advantage and convenience of the citizens. But the accomplishments for which he is best known and by- which his name is most closely identified with the city of Elwood were his enterprise in establishing the Leader, and his subsequent connection with that and the combination paper now known as the Call-Leader, Mr. Fornshell has been in the newspaper business for many years and has a special record of success in establishing and putting newly organized papers upon a sound financial basis, He is also active in various business and financial organizations of Elwood.

Elmer Ellsworth Fornshell was born at Camden, Ohio, July 2, 1861, a son of Benjamin and Amanda (Bennett) Fornshell. The family were originally from Pennsylvania where the paternal grandparents, Benjamin and Cecelia (Frye) Fornshell were both born, The paternal grandfather was by occupation a tin and copper smith, and during the years before the war was one of the strong abolitionists in his community, He died when ninety-two years of age, The children in his family were William, Thomas, Pomeroy, Benjamin, Matilda, and Belle, The maternal grandfather was Fred Bennett, who married a Miss Sutton, The former was a native of Indiana and the latter of Kentucky, and they were among the early settlers of Lebanon, Indiana, where the maternal grandfather owned a large tract of land’. He lived to be seventy and his wife sixty-two years of age, Their nine children were Nelson, Smith, John, Harvey, Amanda, Lucinda, Mary, Ann, and Eliza Bennett.

Benjamin Fornshell, the father, was born at Camden, Ohio, while his wife was a native of near Lebanon, Indiana. Of their five children three are now living, namely Elmer E., and Miss Effie and Glen, both of Camden, Ohio. The father, who was reared at Camden, followed the same occupation as his father, that of tin and copper smith, and made that the source of his prosperity for sixty years, all of this time being spent at Camden, His wife died on Thanksgiving Day of 1901 at the age of sixty-two, During the Civil war, he entered the Union service, and was in the ranks for more than a year, being a corporal in his company, The parents were both Universalists in religious faith.

Mr. E. E. Fornshell spent his youth at Camden, where he was equipped for life by attendance in the public schools, and also learned the tinning trade under the direction of his father, A mechanical trade, however, was not in the line of his best talents or inclinations, and in 1881 he went to Cincinnati and became a reporter on the Cincinnati Gazette, and later with the Enquirer for a short time, With this experience on a metropolitan journal, he went to Lima, where he established a daily edition of the weekly Democrat, and soon afterwards to Van Wert, where he likewise brought out a daily edition for the Bulletin. His next enterprise in the field of journalism was at Toledo, where he spent a little more than a year on the staff of the Morning Commercial, This brought him up to the days preceding the great tariff and sound money campaign of 1896, and for his thoroughly proved ability as a newspaper organizer he was sent into the Indiana Gas Belt to establish a paper for supporting the interests of Mr. McKinley, For that purpose he located at Elwood where the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Works and the McBeth Lamp Chimney works had just been located. At that time also Daniel G. Reid and W. B. Leeds were just beginning the erection of the tin plate factory. In this nascent industrial community, Mr. Fornshell established the Leader, a weekly newspaper with which the Call was afterwards consolidated, under the present name of the Call-Leader, He has since been connected with this prosperous journal, one of the most influential newspapers in Madison County.

In politics Mr. Fornshell has been an influential Republican for a number of years, He represented Madison County in the Indiana legislature in 1897, In 1905 he was elected to the office of mayor of Elwood, but after a short time in that office resigned in order to enter upon his duties as postmaster, an office to which he had just been appointed and which he has held now for eight years. Mr. Fornshell is a stock holder in the First National Bank and the Citizens State Bank, and also in the Elwood Trust Company, Fraternally he is a popular member of the local lodge. Of Elks, His wife belongs to the Presbyterian Church.

On the fifth of February, 1884, Mr. Fornshell married Miss Emma Conover at Van Wert, Ohio, a daughter of David and Susan (Merrill) Conover, Mrs. Fornshell was born at Greenville, Ohio, and her parents were natives of that state and for many years resided at Greenville, Van Wert and at Dayton. Her father died in Van Wert, and her mother in Tipton, Indiana. The three children in the Conover family were Edwin, Charles and Emma, Mr. and Mrs. Fornshell have one son, Fred B., associated in the newspaper business with his father.



Madison County IN,

Forkner, John. History of Madison County, Indiana: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests. Chicago: The Lewis publishing company, 1914.

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