John Forman was 36 years old in 1855. Born in Bourbon County, Kentucky on June 6, 1821, he moved with his family to Scotland County, Missouri when he was 15 years old. He married Martha Pemberton in Monticello, Missouri in 1847. He had been in Kansas since 1848, for four and one half years as a farmer for the Indians at the Great Nemaha subagency, and then as a government licensed trader at the future site of the town of Doniphan. [Cutler, Standard History, Doniphan County]
Keokuk and his son Moses
Chief of the Sac (Sauk)
John Forman was farmer for the Great Nemaha Agency.
In 1853, Forman was granted a license to trade with the Sac and Fox by Agent W. P. Richardson that was ratified by the Central Superintendent in St. Louis. [Barry, Annals, 1138] One contemporary says the license was "only to secure the location for a town site (of Doniphan) when the land should be purchased, as the Indian agent (Richardson) evidently knew would soon occur."[Gray's Doniphan County, Ch. 12]
In December 1853, Forman was chosen as a delegate from the Great Nemaha Agency to attend a "Nebraska Convention" in St. Joseph in January 1854. At that convention called to petition Congress for territorial organization, Forman was elected Secretary. [Barry, Annals, 1189] With the Kansas-Nebraska Bill on the table in Congress, Forman and Richardson were clearly looking forward to opportunities in the future Doniphan County. The Doniphan Post Office was established March 3, 1855 at Forman's store with Forman as the first postmaster. [Kansas Historical Collections 1-2: 256]
Although Forman was a Brigadier General in the 1857 Kansas Militia and thus active in the fight against the free-state cause, [KHC 5:437], he was able to continue on in Kansas after the triumph of the free-state side. In the summer of 1859, Forman was elected as a delegate to the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention. He was decidedly in the minority as a pro-slavery delegate. The only slavery issue debated seriously was whether slavery would be outlawed the day Kansas gained statehood or if slave owners would be given a reasonable time to remove slaves from the state. Democratic member Samuel Stinson proposed a one-year removal time. Forman broke ranks with his fellow Democrats, declaring for "Slavery all the time, or not at all." In the end, the proposal to provide even short-term protection for slavery failed to become part of the Kansas constitution. [Cheatham, Slavery All the Time, 172]
In 1860, Forman and Daniel Vanderslice were granted authority by the Free-State Territorial Legislature to maintain a ferry across the Great Nemaha at a point near Elisha's creek. The act gave them a fifteen-year privilege for two miles above and two miles below. [Root, Ferries, Part XI, 378] After statehood, Forman was elected County Surveyor for six terms, Justice of the Peace seven years, and Township Trustee two years. He was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge in Doniphan County. The first Mrs. Forman died in 1862 and the restless Forman went to Montana Territory. Returning in 1868, he remarried and remained in Doniphan until his death. [Cutler, Standard History, Doniphan County]