Robert Forbes is now living retired at Carbondale, where more than forty years ago he had his first experience in Kansas as a coal miner. Thus he was identified with Carbondale in the height of its prosperity as a mining center.
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He came out to Kansas from Ohio in 1875, making the journey by railroad. He had followed coal mining in Ohio, and was practically reared to that vocation in his native land of Scotland. He was born in Scotland in September, 1849, and was twenty-three when he came to America in 1872.
Forty years ago Carbondale was a very prosperous mining town, and the mines produced a very large tonnage of coal every day. Mr. Forbes did not remain in Carbondale long, going west to Colorado and from there to New Mexico. He was a mining prospector, and very few people realize what hardships, hazards, dangers and difficulties the mining prospector contends with in the course of a few years. The West forty years ago was still a dangerous country, and the life of the prospector was one of special hazard. The Indians were still hostile in some sections, and Mr. Forbes had many narrow escapes, and one of his partners met death at the hands of the red skins.
He was one of the comparatively few who “struck it rich.” He discovered a large deposit of silver, and with the development of the mines he was insured of a fortune, as he regarded it at the time. He finally sold his interest in the silver mines in 1884.
In the meantime he had returned to Kansas and secured a farm of 740 acres in Fairfax Township of Osage County. Even then he did not have smooth sailing, since he had to encounter hardships of all kinds in the development of his farm and in contending with the plagues of grasshoppers and dry years. But that is all now a matter of the past, and long before he retired from active business Mr. Forbes was one of the most prosperous farmers of Osage County. Even now his holdings approximate 3,000 acres, most of it in Osage County.
In 1876 Mr. Forbes married Mary Mitchell. They reared a family of four sons and two daughters, and they provided liberally for the education and training of these young people. The four sons are John, Robert, Daniel and Andrew. John, the oldest son, and Daniel, the third in age, have both been admitted to the bar, while the other two are practical farmers. Mr. Forbes had voted the democratic ticket since 1896. He retired in 1903, and with his wife is now enjoying the comforts of a substantial home in Carbondale.