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J. W. Foreman


Posted By: C. Diamond IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 1/5/2011 at 01:23:36

Biographical Souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan.
Chicago: F. A. Battey & Company. 1890.
pp. 704-7.
J. W. FOREMAN. In this land of freedom and equality where each one takes rank according to merit, and where titled nobility is a thing unknown, it is not a matter of so great a consequence what one’s lineage may be or where the place of his birth. The main question always relates to what one is himself. Still, since all must have had some sort of an ancestry and must have begun the race of life in some locality, it is pleasant to know and entirely proper to state, when the fact exists, that one comes of fairly reputable people and had his origin in at least respectable quarters.
      The subject of this brief biographical notice, J. W. Foreman, for many years a well known citizen of Buchanan county, and for the past ten years the efficient recorder of that county, belongs to the great class of untitled American nobility, found wherever one goes all over this broad land, and wherever found, easily recognized by the possession of those qualities which alone constitute true nobility, honesty, industry, intelligence and patriotism. Mr. Foreman traces his ancestry on this continent to the mother of states, where it is probable his people settled many generations ago. His father, William B. Foreman, was born in Virginia, as was also his wife, Susanna Cummings, and they each came of the sta­ple stock of the “Old Dominion." The father was reared mainly, however, in Pennsylvania and the mother in Ohio. The Foremans and the Cummingses were both early settled families of Ohio, belong­ing to that sturdy class of citizens peculiar to this country, who form the advance guard of our civilization, spending their lives in the arduous labors of felling forests, opening rivers to navigation, lay­ing out farms, building  cities and organiz­ing and starting in motion the compli­cated machinery of government, the full fruition of which labors unhappily are not often theirs, the best fruits being reaped by succeeding generations. William D. Foreman and Susanna Cummings were married in Harrison county, Ohio, where they met for the first time, the nuptial event occurring somewhere about 1839. They resided in that state till 1847, com­ing thence to Iowa and taking up their residence, in November, that year, in the then frontier village of Quasqueton, Buchanan county. They were thus among the earliest settlers of the county, locating here when the county had but recently been organized and at a time when the present prosperous city of Independence had not been dreamed of by its ambitious projectors. The father being a man of quiet tastes, he first engaged in black­smithing, which he continued until 1856, and then settled down to farming pursuits, and life for him and his family in the new West seemed full of much promise, but there was in store for him and his little ones a sad affliction, one that was destined to materially affect all the plans and purposes of the father and leave its impress forever on the lives of his children. The wife who had accompanied him to his new home and on whose faithful companionship he much relied for counsel and courage to enable him to face the hard­ships and perplexing labors which lay before him, was taken away at a time when her presence and aid could least be spared, she dying on the fourth day of July, 1848, scarcely eight months after the family had settled in the county and when she had hardly completed her twenty-sixth year. She left surviving her, besides her husband, five children, the eldest only about six years old and the youngest an infant. The father struggled on as best he could with his family of small children, looking after them with that patient care and thoughtful solicitude which their age and condition demanded at his hands, and trying also, with what strength and courage remained, to carry out his purposes of making for himself and them a home. But in this he was again fated to disappointment, and not greater was the disappointment to him in this instance, nor sadder the bereavement he suffered by the loss of his wife than was that which his children were called upon to sustain by his untimely end.  He died in 1860, being then in the forty-fifth year of his age. This blow completed the desolation of the household, and now parentless, the children were left to grow up much as chance might determine. Fortunately their home was in the midst of good people, and kind and sympathetic friends were not wanting. They received such counsel and aid as their condition called for, and unhappy as their lot was, it is pleasant to know that it was not as bad as it might have been. The eldest child of the family, a daughter, Melissa, had died a short time before the father, and the youngest, an infant son, William, had died shortly after the death of the mother, thus leaving three, two sons and a daughter, whose lives were henceforth after their father’s death to become more indissolubly connected with each other than ever before. The sons, James F. and John W., were older than the daughter, yet the older of these was only seventeen and the younger, our subject, sixteen, he having been born in November 1844. The sons had grown up together and having shared each other’s labors and pastimes from early childhood, came to be brothers in a doubly nearer and tenderer way. Therefore, when the clouds of Civil war burst upon the country in 1861, and patriotism flashed through the land like an electric thrill, these two brothers, boys in years but men in thought and heroic purpose, following the first impulse of their youthful hearts and unrestrained by any parental authority, were among the first of their locality to offer their services for the defense of the Union, enlisting in March, 1862, in Company H, Thirteenth United States infantry. They went at once to the front and shared each other’s fortunes in the new life which they had selected for nearly a year, when the elder brother, falling a victim to one of the numerous forms of disease incident to army life, died in Mound City, Ill., January 11, 1863.
     Thus left with none but himself and one sister for whom to take thought, our subject could and did consecrate himself a new to the service of his country, and that he did his duty faithfully as a soldier the facts of record will abundantly show. He had already seen considerable service in the upper Mississippi country, his command having done garrison duty and taking part in a few minor campaigns and engagements, among them the affair at Chickasaw Bayou, December 29, 1862. Following that came the engagement at Arkansas Post, January 11, 1863, then the series of fights in Mississippi that year under Sherman’s leadership, including those of Rolling fork, March 22d; Haine’s bluff, April 30th; Champion hills, May 16th; Vicksburg, May 19th to July 4th, and Jackson, July 10th. In the next battle in which Mr. Foreman took part, that at Colliersville, Tenn., October 11, 1863, he was wounded by a gun-shot in the leg, in consequence of which he was disabled from further immediate service, and was sent to Overton hospital, at Memphis, Tenn., where he remained till July 10, 1864, securing a furlough at that time and returning home. It having become necessary to have his limb amputated in the meantime, his disability became permanent and he was discharged September 22, 1864. Still suffering with his wound, and unfit by reason of it for any active pursuits, Mr. Foreman remained about his old home at Quasqueton for several months. In the spring, however, of 1865, feeling his need of a better education than had fallen to his lot up to that time, and knowing that by the loss of his limb he would have to earn a livelihood in some other way than by physical labor, he entered Lenox College, Hopkinton, Delaware county, where he took a one year’s course and laid the foundation for an education, the larger part of which he afterwards obtained by assiduous study in private. He engaged in teaching and taught in the district schools of Buchanan county, in the vicinity of Quasqueton for several years, marrying in the meantime and engaging later also in farming. Thus was he trying in an humble and eminently honorable way to earn a living and discharge his duties as a citizen, when he was called from these labors to serve the people of his county in one of the most honorable and responsible positions within their gift. He was elected recorder of Buchanan county, in November, 1880, and he has held the office since, having been reelected to it for four successive terms. Diligent in his labors, neat and orderly in all his work, kind and accommodating to the public and faithful to every trust reposed in him, Mr. Foreman makes an officer, in honoring whom the people of Buchanan county honor themselves; for it is no less a credit to them to recognize in him these qualities and honor him for their possession than it is for him to possess them and thus be worthy of such honor.
      In March, 1868, Mr. Foreman married, the lady on whom his choice fell for a life companion having been Miss Melissa Miller, then of the village of Quasqueton, and a young lady whom he had known for some years. This union has been blessed with two children, who with an adopted son constitute as happy a family as that of which the father was a member in his childhood and which at so early a date passed, for him, into only a pleasant memory. The elder of the children born to Mr. Foreman is named Mae, and was his efficient assistant for three years in the recorder’s office; she is now the wife of C. E. Mullin, agent of the I. M. Central Railway Company, at Meriden, Iowa. Mr. Foreman’s sister, referred to in the first of this article as being the only one of his family besides himself now surviving, is also married, being Mrs. Rebecca Williams, wife of Isaac B. Williams, of Franklin county, Nebr. Following the migratory impulse of her people she with her husband has taken up her residence in the further West, and like her ancestors is contributing with the labor of her hands to the settlement of the home of her adoption and thus rendering it better for those who will come on in after years to bear her name and inherit the fruits of her labor.
      An old soldier, and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a zealous Odd Fellow and a supporter of and participant in the broad charities and benevo­lent purposes of Iowa’s great order, the Legion of Honor, Mr. Foreman has not allowed to lie dormant the social and humane side of his nature, but has kept his feelings in vital touch at all points with the best purposes and impnises of his fellowmen, and in contributing to their happiness, alleviating their sufferings and rendering them such other aids as falls within the reach of his means and en­dowments, he has done the whole duty of a man.


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