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Jonathan Clayton Forman
THE HISTORY of the city of Cleveland reveals the handiwork of many a noble soul who wrought heroically and
unselfishly. Her great industries and splendid homes, her high-grade institutions, her happy, prospering people, speak volumes of some one's strength of arm, courage of heart, activity of brain—of some one's sacrifice. But time, that ruthless obliterator, before whose destroying fingers even the stubborn granite must in the end succomb, is ever at his work of disintegration. Beneath his blighting touch even memory fails, and too often a life of splendid achievement is forgotten in a day. Lest we forget, then, as the poet Kipling admonishes us not to do in his "Recessional," regarding a number of important things that no one should forget, this tribute to the memory of the late Jonathan Clayton Forman is penned. Pioneer printer, successful business man, a public-spirited, brave, kindly, generous gentleman, it is the desire of the biographer, as it must be of all who knew him, that his deeds and his character be recorded for the benefit of those who follow after.
Mr. Forman was born at Gorham, New York, September 11, 1830. He was a direct descendant of an old Anglo-Saxon family that settled in Maryland in 1614. The name is distinctly American and will be found prominent among soldiers, merchants, lawyers, and jurists all through the history of this country from the earliest Colonial days to the present time. Knowing of the prominence and good character of his ancestors, our subject always endeavored to keep the good name of Forman untarnished, and accordingly his conduct in all relations of life was beyond criticism. He came to Cleveland in the year 1847, and during his long residence here of some sixty-eight years saw the city grow from an insignificant town of less than twenty thousand to nearly three-fourths of a million population. All that time he was a prominent factor in its industrial growth and development, always active in civic matters, and an influential member of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Foreman's education was limited to the common schools of Warren County, Ohio. He left school when thirteen years of age and began his long business career at Conneaut, as a roller boy in the office of the "Western Reserve Chronicle," one of the oldest newspapers in northwestern Ohio. At eighteen, he entered the employ of Sanford and Hayward, printers and stationers of Cleveland, became an active member of the firm in 1867, and later became the junior member of Short and Forman; and in 1890, became president of the Forman-Bassett-Hatch Company, one of the largest printing and lithographing concerns in the Middle West. Under Mr. Forman's able management, his sound judgment, keen foresight, and honest dealings, the business steadily grew from year to year, reaching vast proportions and becoming known all over the country. He possessed decided inventive genius and, although a very busy man, he found time to invent many utilitarian devices for economy and the saving of labor and
improving the artistic value and beauty of the product of his company.
Although Mr. Forman was denied a college education, he made up for this early lack in later years by contact with the world and by extensive home study, and became a Well-informed man, especially on scientific, philosophical, and historical themes, and was also conversant with the current topics of the day. He was a splendid example of a self-made man, and deserved a great deal of credit for pushing ahead from a discouraging early environment to a position of honor, wealth, and influence in the great Forest City, whose interests he ever had at heart and sought to promote as best he could. He was not only widely but favorably known as a result of his tireless energy, undaunted perseverance, and scrupulous honesty, also his clean personal habits, his inclination to charity, and his genial and sociable address. Many are they who could tell of his noble generosity. Being a man who made and retained friends easily, he had the confidence and good will of all. It was said of him that a friend once made was never lost. No one was ever more loyal to his friends.
Mr. Forman was married January 20, 1853, to Elizabeth Curtis Darroch, who was born in Scotland, from which country she came to the United States when young. Her death occurred April 12, 1896, and she was buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland. To Mr. and Mrs. Forman two children were born, William H. Forman and Samual William Forman, both deceased.
Mr. Forman was a strong Republican, and, while deeply interested in his party and the public welfare, never sought or held office, preferring to devote his attention exclusively to his business and to his home. He is remembered by his family and neighbors as a model husband and father. He always attended the Calvary Presbyterian Church, and was much interested in all its undertakings, giving liberally to its support. However, he did not become a member until late in life. He was a member of the Tippecanoe Club, a Republican organization; also the Union Club, the Ben Franklin Printing Club, and the Cleveland Athletic Club, in all of which he was popular.
Mr. Forman was the oldest printer in northern Ohio, in fact was one of the oldest in the country at the time of his death, July 7, 1915, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. He is survived by J. C. Forman, Jr., and Elizabeth M. Forman, grandchildren, and Mrs. Ida Forman Dennis, daughter-in-law. Rev. A. P. Higley. pastor of the Calvary Presbyterian Church, officiated at the funeral, which was held from the Forman residence on Euclid Avenue. The pall-bearers were C. 0. Bassett, E. H. Schneider, L. M. Leavenworth, Common Pleas Judge Martin A. Foran, L. C. Granger, and Adam Gratham. Interment was in Lakeview Cemetery. He was sincerely mourned by all who knew him and his memory will long be revered.
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