Forman, Samuel S.

Genealogical Sketch of the Forman family and connexions and A slight allution of a course in life of The Third Son of the present Family, Written by him [Samuel S. Forman] from memory after a lapse of forty (60) years, At the request of his only child Mrs M. E. F. V. R., Syracuse City, March 21st, 1849.

Octavo, 260 manuscript pages, bound in full tooled leather, spine re-backed, remnants of old spine laid down, inside hinges reinforced with bookbinder's cloth tape, corners of boards worn through, spine and boards rubbed and scuffed, ownership signature of "B. S. Stevens" on inside front board.

Besides the genealogical and historical sketch of the Forman family (pages 6-48), this volume also includes a transcription of the account of Samuel S. Forman's trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in 1789-1790, during which he accompanied his cousin to Louisiana, where his cousin was to take up tobacco farming (pages 49 to 174). This journey of Forman's was published in the Historical Magazine of December, 1869 (17 pages), with notes by Charles C. Dawson. In 1888 it was printed from a slightly different version, and abridged as a Narrative of a Journey down the Ohio and Mississippi in 1789-90 (67 pages), in a small volume edited with a "memoir and illustrative notes by Dr. Lyman C. Draper," who had apparently not seen the earlier appearance of the work. Samuel S. Forman's narrative gives a minute account of the trip on the Ohio and Mississippi, the places passed through and at which they stopped, prominent people they met, and many other curious particulars. 

On pages 177 to 221 of the volume offered here, is a later transcription of the journal of Major John Burrows, kept by Burrows while on the Sullivan Expedition in which Burrows took part as an officer in Spencer's 5th New Jersey Regiment, dated 26 Aug 1779 - 13 Oct 1779. The original of Burrow's journal is located at Rochester University.

Following Burrows journal is a collection of memoirs kept by various members of the family, including Samuel Breese (1802-1873), Mrs. Helen Burrows Breese (1781-1861), Mrs. H. B. Sanford's "Forman Book," and information "Rec'd of the Forman family." All of these memoirs were stated to have been copied from a "scrapbook" or from scraps and run from page 223 to the end of the volume at page 266.

      Major Samuel S. Forman

Major Samuel S. Forman was born on July 21st, at Middletown Point, Monmouth County, New Jersey, in the year 1765 (some sources state 1763).  He was the third son of Samuel Forman (1714-1792) and Helena Denise (1728-1789). Samuel was too young to fight in the Revolutionary War, but two of his older brothers did fight, as did uncles and cousins, as well as in-laws. Samuel's father lost much of his wealth to the British destruction of Middletown during the war and was never compensated, nor did he ask to be compensated.

Forman's father was a merchant and young Samuel followed in the same trade. He undertook a mercantile career which eventually led him to venture into the wilderness of Central New York with John Lincklaen and Theophilus Cazenove, land agents of the Holland Land Company. His purpose with the company was to set up a new community, assist in land sales, and to operate the company store. Within a few years Forman purchased the store and expanded his business holdings into several neighboring communities.

On March 1st, 1808, Forman married Sarah McCarty and in 1810 their daughter Mary Euphemia was born. A previous child, a son, died as an infant. In 1813, Forman built a grand mansion which rivaled the seat of his former employer.  Perhaps because his house, which became known as "Lakeland," was built of wood, while Lincklaen's mansion, "Lorenzo," was built of brick, an old but unsubstantiated tradition indicates that the Forman house was built one foot larger in every dimension. In the 1820's, after Lincklaen's death, Samuel Forman removed to Syracuse where he lived until his death on August 16th, 1862, at the age of 97 years. His wife predeceased him in 1845.

In 1837, at the request of Mrs. Jonathan D. Ledyard, Forman wrote his "Annals" of the first settlement of Cazenovia.  Forman recorded his memoirs as he recalled them and not necessarily in their order of occurrence.  The account was condensed somewhat when it was presented publicly on May 8, 1841, on the 48th anniversary of Cazenovia's founding.  Yet another version was published in the Cazenovia Gazette of December 3, 1851.  While Forman himself questioned the accuracy of some of his own statements, the account remains a most important document of the early settlement of Central New York.

Forman's narrative of his journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers was not written down unil the year 1849, some sixty years after the trip, which took place in 1789-1790. He took the trip in order to accompany and help his cousin, Ezekiel Forman, who he calls "uncle" due to their age differences. After his return trip from Louisiana, he was at Philadelphia and witnessed the second inauguration of President Washington. His title of major was given to him by New York's Governor Jay, as he organized a military company at Cazenovia.

Major John Burrows, who married Samuel S. Forman's sister Margaret, was first a captain in Colonel David Forman's regiment. Forman had the nick-name of "Black David," to distinguish him from a relative of the same name, and he was always a terror to the Tories; and Captain Burrows, from his efficiency against these marauders, was called by those enemies of the country, "Black David's Devil."

On January 1, 1777, Captain Burrows was made a captain in Spencer's regiment on Continental establishment; and January 22, 1779, he was promoted to the rank of major; serving in Sullivan's campaign against the hostile Six Nations, and remained in the army till the close of the war. Several years after, he went on a journey to the interior of Georgia, in an unhealthy season, where he probably sickened and died, for he was never heard of afterward.

Major Burrows left an interesting journal of Sullivan's campaign, which appears in a volume on that campaign issued by the State of New York, in 1887. The original manuscript journal was preserved by his grand-daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Breese Stevens, of Sconondoa, Oneida County, New York. This volume offered here, contains a later version (transcription) of the Burrows journal and with the name of "B.S. Stevens" written on the inside front board, we can assume this volume belonged to the Stevens family. There are some minor editing notes written in red ink, which an entry describes as "Red ink changes taken from Mrs. Charles E. Stevens copy of the Forman manuscript."

Mrs. Charles E. Stevens is likely the wife of Charles Edward Stevens (b.1836), who was the son of Augustus Stevens and Elizabeth Breese (b.1808). Elisabeth Breese was the granddaughter of Major Burrows and was the owner of the Burrow's journal about the Sullivan Campaign. Major Burrows had married Samuel S. Forman's sister Margaret, thus the volume offered here appears to have descended through the Stevens family connection.

Another interesting character mentioned in the Forman family history, is Captain Philip Freneau, well known poet and officer in the Revolutionary War, who married Samuel S. Forman's sister Eleanor.

The journal offered here is interesting because it includes more information and detail of Forman's adventures than does the 1888 published work. For example, on page 49, after a lengthy genealogical and biographical history of the family (almost the first 50 pages), Forman recounts when he first went to Charleston (SC) as a supercargo on a ship for Ledyard & Hamlin, a firm comprised of his brother-in-law Major Benjamin Ledyard and Col. Benjamin Walker. When in Charleston, Forman states that it is the first time in his life that he saw the "distressed situation of the Southern Field Negroes." When he went down to the wharf he writes:


"When I went down upon the wharf where the vessel was unloading, the poor black would flock around me to know if I had any thing that they could do. They told me that they were obliged every night, to bring a certain amount of change to their master & that they sometimes could not eat scarcely any thing. I sett them to roll the barrels of flour two or three tier on each other high, it would take two men to lift one barrel on the other. The poor creatures were all but naked & half starved. Every morning a well dressed house servant called on me at my lodgings to brush my clothes & clean my boats & shoes. He fared well."