Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Fistful of Forthmans

This "Family Sunday" post is all about the Forthmans. My mother's mother was one, so I can relate what I've been able to learn over the years, and from recent research.

The name originates from Germany. Common variants are Fortmann and Vortmann. The earliest ancestor that I've found in my particular line is Christoph Gebhard Forthmann, born sometime during the latter half of the 18th century in Lower Saxony, Germany. He married Anna Cathrine Brummerloh and they had a son also named Christoph (born circa 1804) in Bremen.

Christoph Forthman married Margaretha Schmidt (born 1806), and they had at least 7 children (Generation 3):
Christoph Gebhard (b. January 28, 1831)*
Frederick Christian Heinrich (my 2x great grandfather, b. June 9, 1832)**
Anna Margaretha (b. November 6, 1834)
Lucie Wihelmine (January 6, 1837),
Christoph (b. April 2, 1841)*
Ludwig (b. August 23, 1843)
Johann (b. February 23, 1845)

*The fact that two different sons were named Christoph may allude to the elder's early death, though I have not been able to determine if this is the case. There are instances where multiple children are given the same name (like Heavyweight Champion George Forman's 5 sons, all named George, but with different middle names). I have found that it was a common practice in many families to name their younger children after ones that had previously died. It no doubt helped them to cope with their loss.
**Recent discoveres have shed doubt on the lineage of Frederick Forthman.  There were apparently 2 men of the same name born in 1832 in Lower Saxony, so I cannot say with certainty that the above data pertains to my line.  The below data is more concrete and assuredly my family.  I welcome further insight into the origins of Frederick Forthman.

Okay, getting back to the Forthman family history...

Sometime before 1850, Frederick Forthman came to America from Lower Saxony. He first settled in Maryland, around Hagerstown, where he met and married Ann Creager. Ann died during the 1870's and Frederick then married Sarah Ellen Keefer (b. 1853) before 1880. He was working as a Hatter at that time.

I do not know how many of Frederick's siblings also immigrated, as I have not been able to positively identify any of them. It is possible they "Americanized" their names when they moved here, which only makes it harder. There was a "Christopher Fortman" living in Baltimore, MD in 1860, born circa 1832 in Hanover. This could be a match for Christoph Gebhard (census data is often imprecise), though there is insufficient data to tell for certain.

I do know that Frederick's mother, Margaretha, did move to the States at some point, as she was living with him in 1870.

Generation 4:

Frederick and Ann had the following children:

William E. Forthman
Circa 1940
Anna M. (b. 1860)
Frederick Bennard (b. October 17, 1861)
William Edward (my great grandfather, b. July 26, 1863 /Died 1947)
Ida May (b. December 6, 1865)
Sally (b. 1870)

Frederick and his second wife, Sarah Ellen Keefer, had the following children:
Ella Keefer (b. November 1, 1880 /Died March 23, 1884)
Ethel Adella (b. April 21, 1882)
Mabel Leona (b. February 2, 1885 /Died February 2, 1965)
Samuel Earle (b. February 28, 1887 /Died February 1970)
Lynn Keefer (.b August 29, 1892 /Died July 1975)

Generation 5:

Anna M. Forthman married Theodore W. Fahrney, and it doesn't appear they had any children.

William Edward Forthman moved to Chicago and married Anna Louise Littlefield (b. 1880). They had the following children:

Anna L. Forthman,
w/ William, Ethel, Anabell,
Kathryn, & Ruth
Ethel O. (b. January 5, 1901 /Died April 1, 1988)
Anabell (b. January 22, 1903)
Ruth (b. September 18, 1905)
Kathryn Creager (b. October 6, 1906 /Died August 27, 1992)
William Edward, Jr. (b. August 7, 1910 /Died January 2, 1998)
Mary Nadine (my grandmother b. 1919)
Ethel Adella Forthman married William H. Burhans (b. 1884) and they had 3 sons:
William H. Jr. (b. September 11, 1909 /Died February 10, 1994)
Winslow (b. March 31, 1913 /Died September 4, 1990)
Frederick F. (b. 1917)

Lynn Keefer Forthman married Genevieve Harrison (b. February 14, 1898 /Died July 1974) and they had several children.

Generation 6:

Ethel Forthman Rassmusson
holding baby Ethel,
Christmas day, 1922
Houston, Texas.

Ethel O. Forthman married Harold Rassmusson, and they had at least one daughter, Ethel D. Rassmusson (b. November 13, 1922).

Kathryn Creager Forthman married Frank Porlick (b. September 18, 1894 /Died October 2, 1930). They had at least 2 children:
Renee Kathryn (b. September 10, 1928 /Died 1963), married Jack Carroll Dillon, Jr. (b. August 19, 1925 /Died 1997).
Robert (b. 1927)

After Frank Porlick's death, Kathryn married Blair Watson (b. February 18, 1899 /Died April 1965). After Blair's death, she married John Frederick "Fred" Kimball (b. March 16, 1912 /Died April 18, 1999). Though I never had the chance to meet Aunt Kathryn, I did have the opportunity to meet Fred back in the early 90s.

Mary Nadine Forthman married John Julius Kirton (b. February 4, 1918 /Died April 1967) and they had three children:
Clifton Wesley (b. August 8, 1944 /Died April 21, 2003)
Diana Elizabeth (my mother, b. December 8, 1945 /Died August 13, 2010)
Stephen (March 13, 1947 /Died September 19, 1998)

I have some interesting stories about Uncle Stephen, which I'll be sure to share at some point.

This is not the most comprehensive list, and like all of my other gene lines, it is a work in progress. Anyone with additional information is welcome to share it with me, as I continue to piece together my family history.


  1. Trying to find documentation that proves Ann Creager Forthman's maiden name and that she, Ann Creager, married Frederick Forthman. The birth records I find for a couple of their children only show her first name. I'm striking out at and Anyone out there have this documentation?

  2. Are you still looking for information about Frederick Forthman?

    1. Indeed. I am always interested in hearing what other people have uncovered and compare it to what I've found elsewhere.