Forsyth County was named for Benjamin Forsyth, a hero of the War of 1812 and an officer in the elite Rifle Regiment.
Forsyth’s early life is not fully documented, but he was thought to have been born in Hanover County, Virginia, in the early 1760s. His parents were thought to be James and Elizabeth Forsyth.
Forsyth owned property in the 1780s in Hanover County, Virginia. By 1794 he was living in Stokes County and owned 3,000 acres of land there and additional property in Germanton.
Forsyth served as a representative of Stokes County in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1807 and 1808.
He joined the United States First Rifle Regiment in 1808 and rose to the rank of captain when the War of 1812 began. He was promoted to major, then made brevet lieutenant colonel. He was well-known for his attacks on British forces throughout Quebec and southern Canada. One attack came at Elizabethtown, Canada, in February 1813. Forsyth led his troops across the frozen St. Lawrence River. They attacked a British garrison from behind, inflicting immense damage on the British fort, while suffering limited losses. He also had a role in the capture of York and the attacks on Fort George in April 1813.
In June 1814 he led an American ambush while attacking a strong British force. He was wounded and died of his injuries on June 28, 1814, making this the 200th anniversary of his death. He is buried in Champlain, New York.
After his death, Forsyth’s family sold his property and moved from Stokes County to Tennessee. When a new county was made from Stokes County in 1949, it was named Forsyth, in honor of Benjamin Forsyth.
A highway marker was installed in Germanton, in 1939, to mark the location of Benjamin Forsyth’s home. This marker is shown in the above photograph.
Photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.