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History of Forman, ND

The following article is paraphrased from the book:

“History of North Dakota, Embracing a Relation of the History of the State from the Earliest Times Down to the Present Day, Including the Biographies of the Builders of the Commonwealth …”
– January 1, 1910
Bismarck Tribune Company – Publisher


A man whose history is inseparable front that of Forman is Col. Cornelius Hagerman Forman. He has been identified with its material advancement from its earliest history, the township, the school district and the village all bearing his name, since he was the owner of the original townsite. In April, 1883, he took up a claim on land which is now the city of Forman, and as it was the center of Sargent county, Col. Forman interested himself in locating the county seat at this point as preferable to Milnor, and in so doing he sacrificed his private fortune of $30,000, so great was the ardor of his public spirit. In the controversy, which continued almost three years before it was settled through the courts, Forman was declared victorious. For twenty years, he was actively engaged in the real estate business, from which, however, he has recently and finally retired.

Col. Forman was a native of New Brunswick, having been born at St. Johns, July 15, 1828. His father, James, was born on the River St. John, in New Brunswick, and died at Hamilton, Ontario, in 1846; his people came of old New York stock of the 17th century. His mother, Anis Skidmore Brown, was born in Long Beach, N. B., and died at Forman, Mich.

After graduating from the common schools of Hamilton, Ontario, he engaged in business there, continuing from May 1854 to February 1856, when he moved to Brantford, Ontario. Here merchandising and farming occupied his attention until February, 1872, at which time he went to Michigan, and with his brother founded the town of Forman, MI. The manufacture of lumber was his chief interest for the following eleven years. In April 1883, he came to what is now Forman, ND. He was then 55 years of age. His life was filled with good deeds for others; he won honor and distinction as a man of unassailable principle and unselfish devotion to the public good.

Miss Adeline Kelly, of Kelvin. Ontario, became the wife of Col. Forman, in Bryant county, Ont., in 1851. Their children were, Jessie Gilbert, who died in Michigan, at the age of 26 years, Mrs. Elizabeth Groff, Harry W., Mrs. Mary Ann Purdy, Mrs. Lidia F. Gilborne, and Clifton. Col. Forman had four great-grandchildren, of whom he was justly proud. He was a Republican, and for fifteen years was justice of the peace, in which office he had, by the exercise of diplomacy, tact and sheer kindness of heart, made friends of all with whom had come in contact. He had nevertheless a keen sense of justice, and his decisions met with universal approval. He was township supervisor for twelve years and of the village for ten years. For fifteen years he was school clerk; and he always carried on farming operations, constantly improving his valuable holdings.

At 82 of age Col. Forman retained his fine military carriage, having served in his earlier years with a regiment in Brantford. Ont.. and his manner was of the old school. His faculties then – after having been notably connected with the building up of more than one locality – were absolutely unimpaired, and altogether, he was looked up to as a man of exceptional ability, of commanding force, and of the most exemplary character.

As a staunch member of the Congregational church, he stood for the spiritual and moral uplift of his town, and with his supreme faith in its municipal supremacy, he was much beloved.1909 Forman Map

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If you have questions about the genealogy of Forman's residents, please contact the Sargent County Museum.

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Jan 08

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