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Coll. # 18

Forman Family Papers, 1718-1899

Processed by

Lois R. Densky

Edited by

Gregory J. Plunges September 1980

Reprocessed by Deb Carmody

May 2015

Library & Archives

70 Court Street, Freehold, N.J. 07728





The Forman Papers encompass the records of Samuel I. and John S. Forman, wreckmasters on the Monmouth County coast during the nineteenth century. The original Forman ancestor in Monmouth County was John Forman of England who settled in Monmouth County in the mid-seventeenth century.


Samuel I. Forman (1763-1816) was the son of John I. Forman (1731-1811) and Elenor Denise (1734-1769). Samuel married Mary Conover (1768-1802), daughter of Cornelius Conover and Jane Denise, on March 12, 1783. In addition to his work as wreckmaster, Samuel may also have done some minor legal work although he had no formal legal training or degree.


John S. Forman (1793-1874), son of Samuel I. Forman and Elenor Denise, was married to Sarah Gifford. John served as a wreckmaster, a judge, and did minor legal work in partnership with Abraham Osborne. Both Samuel and John Forman lived at Squan Beach (now known as Manasquan), New Jersey.


On February 26, 1806, Samuel I. Forman was appointed to the Commission of Wrecks as wreckmaster of Squan Beach, but may have served in that capacity as early as 1802. He remained wreckmaster until 1816. The responsibilities of this position included:


  • Taking immediate charge of all stranded vessels and cargos
  • Acting as agents for the owners
  • Salvaging the craft and cargo when possible, and
  • Assisting with life-saving operations.


Salvaged goods were shipped to New York and perishable or damaged goods were disposed of at auction. In addition to wreckmaster responsibilities, Samuel Forman was named inspector under the embargo laws on February 10, 1809 for the District and Port of Perth Amboy.


On August 15, 1818, John S. Forman was appointed deputy inspector of customs for the District and Port of Perth Amboy. He was also commissioned as a lieutenant in the New Jersey Militia on July 20, 1819, and later served as paymaster.  In late December of that year, John Forman married Sarah Gifford.


John S. Forman was named inspector of revenue for the District of Perth Amboy on December 3, 1823, and was reappointed in 1829. On April 26, 1826, he became wreckmaster for the Third District in Monmouth County, and served in that capacity intermittently until at least 1852.


Other legal positions which John Forman held included Justice of the Peace for Monmouth County, Master in the Court of Chancery for the State of New Jersey, and Justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Ocean County. He also served as a trustee for the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pt. Pleasant, and was on the commission which recommended the division of Ocean and Monmouth Counties.



The Forman Papers contain shipwreck records, legal and financial documents, Monmouth County Militia records, and railroad papers. The collection documents the business activities of Samuel I. and John S. Forman. The bulk of material dates from 1793 to 1857.


The shipwreck records represent the major portion of the Forman Papers, and are especially noteworthy. They include correspondence, manifests of cargo, inventories, vendue lists, reports, notices, bills and receipts, accounts and account books, other miscellaneous legal and financial documents, certificates, and printed material. These unique manuscripts document the history of maritime disasters on the New Jersey coast prior to, and immediately after, the establishment of the first US lifesaving station in 1848.


The legal and financial documents primarily record the development of John S. Forman's law-related activities, as an administrator of estates, and as a justice. The series includes surveys, wills, bills and receipts, bonds, notes, estate papers, correspondence, inventories and vendue lists, bills of sale, deeds and indentures, judgments, news clippings, awards, account books, notices, summonses, invitations, warrants, a lease, a ledger, a certificate, an appraisement, an oath, an affidavit, an election ballot and tally, and an income tax statement.


The Monmouth County Militia records document John S. Forman's service in the New Jersey Militia and his role as paymaster. The material includes receipts, certificates, commissions, lists, and his paymaster's record book. The railroad papers include waybills, a certificate, correspondence, a receipt, and a stock certificate for the Farmingdale and Squan Village Railroad.


Additionally, several other members of the Forman family are also represented in this collection, as are some papers of the Gifford family, of whom John S. Forman’s wife was a relative.  Also included are papers that came in with the #2015.05 donation, though their relation to the Forman family has not yet been determined.


Arrangement of the Forman Papers is first by topic then chronologically. The only items removed from the collection are oversize materials.


The Forman Papers will be of interest to researchers of the Forman family, maritime history, and the development of the US lifesaving station in New Jersey. The lifesaving stations were the forerunners of the US Coast Guard. The collection will also be useful for the history of the New Jersey Militia, and for the history of railroads in New Jersey.


Additional Forman family manuscripts are located in the Monmouth County Historical Association library. The collection also contains further manuscripts and photographs on shipwrecks, as well as printed material pertaining to William A. Newell, a prime mover for the establishment of the US life-saving station in New Jersey.


The John S. Forman Papers at the Rutgers University Library in New Brunswick relate to this collection.


Note: During the original processing in 1980, photocopies were made of each record and organized by topic.  It is believed this was done to preserve the original records, which in some cases, were fragile.  The original records were stored separately and researchers were required to use the copies.


After the donation of a significant amount of documents in 2015, the entire collection was reprocessed. 


New donations that were intermingled with items from the earlier donation in the same folder were labeled with the accession #2015.05.  Thus if the item is photocopied it was from the earlier donation.  In the event an original document does not have an accession number, assume the item is from the 2015 donation.

Original items from the earliest donation are still house separately and were untouched in 2015.


PROVENANCE: Collection purchased prior to 1934.  #8263, #2007.02, #2015.05.










1 / 1 / Shipwreck Records, 1793 – 1818. 31 items.


1 / 2 / Shipwreck Records, 1821 – 1829. 24 items.


1 / 3 / Shipwreck Records, 1830 – 1831. 17 items.


1 / 4 / Shipwreck Records, 1832. 36 items.


1 / 5 / Shipwreck Records, 1833 – 1835. 35 items.


1 / 6 / Shipwreck Records, 1836 – 1839.  46 items.


1 / 7 / Shipwreck Records, 1840 – 1849.  25 items.


1 / 8 / Shipwreck Records, 1850 - 1857; n.d.


1 / 9 / Shipwreck Account Books and Miscellaneous Papers, 1835 – 1852. 


2 / 1 / Legal & Financial Documents - Deeds, 1785 - 1858; n.d.


2 / 2 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1718 - 1809


2 / 3 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1810 - 1819


2 / 4 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1820 - 1829


2 / 5 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1830 - 1839


2 / 6 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1840 - 1849


2 / 7 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1850 - 1869


2 / 8 / Legal & Financial Documents, 1872 - 1899; n.d.


2 / 9 / Monmouth County Militia Records, 1803 - 1830


2 / 10 / John S. Forman Railroad Papers and Correspondence, 1841 – 1878


2 / 11 / John S. Forman Letters, 1835 – 1874, 21 items.


2 / 12 / John S. Forman & Son Bank Books and Statements, 1868 – 1877, 7 items.


3 / 1 / John S. Forman & Son Checks & Promissory Notes, 1872 – 1876, 45 items.


3 / 2 / John S. Forman Justice of the Peace, 1827 – 1845, 6 items.


3 / 3 / John S. Forman Account books, 1857 – 1870 (not inclusive), 3 items.


3 / 4 / John S. Forman Receipts, 58 items.


3 / 5 / John S. Forman & Son – Insurance Paperwork, 17 items.


3 / 6 / John S. Forman & Son – Tax Bills, 10 items.


3 / 7 / John S. Forman – Estate Papers, 13 items.


3 / 8 / Samuel Forman, 1813. 1 item.


3 / 9 / Sarah Forman Papers, 1875 – 1877; n.d.  10 items.


3 / 10 / Sidney Forman Papers, 1855 – 1886. 10 items.


3 / 11 / Hubbard Forman Papers, 1861 – 1898; n.d. 80 items.


3 / 12 / Hubbard Forman and E.J. Swift Correspondence, copies. 5 items.


3 / 13 / Gifford Family Papers, 1801, 1821, 1833, 1837. 6 items.


3 / 14 / Sarah Clark


3 / 15 / William Kitchens


3 / 16 / James Reynolds


3 / 17 / Trenton Beef Company


3 / 18 / 1842 Election Results


3 / 19 / Marl Pits


3 / 20 / Indentures, 1746, 1796, 1833, 1837. 4 items.


3 / 21 / Miscellaneous Papers.  20 items.


Oversized – Indenture of Maria Gifford as apprentice to Joseph Wainright, Howell Township, 16 June 1833.




Forman, William P. Records of the Descendants of John Forman who Settled in Monmouth County, New Jersey about the Year AD 1685. Cleveland: Short & Forman, 1885


Horner, William S. This Old Monmouth of Ours. New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1974


Longstreet, Elias S. "Graveyard of the Sea" Asbury Park Press, The Shore Press, February 24, 1934


New Jersey. Commission to Investigate Charges Concerning Wrecks on the Monmouth Coast. Communicated to the Assembly, March 20, 1846... Trenton: Sherman & Harron, 1846




A.H. Wass  



AJ Donaldson  










Benjamin and Elizabeth  


Cape Henry  



Christine Louisa  


Conrad Lindsey  


Daniel M. Smith  

Daniel S. Williams  









General Putnam  

Governor Coddington  


Hannah Ann  

Harriet Anderson  

Harriet Frances Hallowell  



Henry Clay  


Hope & Polly  




James Fisher  

James Monroe  

James Patin  



John Minturn  

John Myers  


Joseph Fisher  


La Fouvette  


Little William  






Mary and Eliza  

Mary Ann  

Mary J. Mead  

Mary Travins  






North America  




Post Boy  



Robert Gordon  

Samuel Willets  







Thankfull Winslow  

Three Friends  



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Monmouth County Historical Association received a general operating grant from the the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
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