Biography of John E. Orman

An Outstanding Community Builder and Business Man

We are pleased to present to the reader John E. Orman, of Russellville, as the first of the many characters who appear in this book. He is one of the brightest stars in the galaxy of community builders, social leaders and successful business men in Franklin County, and Alabama. He possesses a personality, such a few very possess, combined with honesty and fine common sense.

Mr. Orman was born on the historical Cedar Creek, at Orman’s Bridge, December 25, 1872. He is the youngest of several children born to James Morrison and Elizabeth (Hancock) Orman, deceased, and is a grandson of James Orman, who came from North Carolina to Franklin County, about 1820, and of Ben and Mary (Ramsey) Hancock, who lived at Old Franklin (Good) Springs. Both the Ormans and the Hancocks were among Franklin’s most highly respected families.

He grew up on the farm and attended the public schools of Franklin County. Later, he was a student in the Florence Normal College, Florence, Alabama for a about two years.

After leaving school he began his business career as a salesman in Wilson Brother’s store at Belgreen, working for them about eighteen months. He then became salesman for his brother, W. A. Orman of Russellville. After working there a year, he accepted a position with Wilson & Company and worked for some time with that firm.

On January 1, 1895, fortified by these years of experience, he established himself in business under the firm name of Dearing and Orman, which was incorporated in 1912, under the name of Dearing & Orman Mercantile Company, Incorporated. The officers of this company are John E. Orman, president; Mrs. Hattie F. Gray, treasurer, and W. C. Sparks, secretary.

But as already stated, Mr. Orman’s interest are by no means confined to his mercantile establishment. In 1914, he accepted the Vice-presidency of the Tennessee Valley Bank; from 1915 to 1923 he devoted much time and thought to the boosting of the Jackson Highway; he has been active in securing an improved highway from Decatur, Alabama to Memphis, Tennessee, the John T. Morgan Highway; was elected president of the Cotton States Merchants’ Association of Memphis by unanimous vote in 1925; is vice- president of the Russellville Cut Stone Company; is a stockholder in the North Alabama Building & Loan Association of Decatur, Alabama; is a director of the Carter Grocery Company of Russellville, with branch houses at Sheffield and Red Bay, and was county chairman and worked for the passage of the Seaport Amendment.

He is interested in better roads, better schools and better homes. He has spent practically the entire fifty-five years of his life in Franklin County, and has great faith in the natural resources and in the future possibilities of this county. He has been for many years a central character of Russellville and whatever defects the town may possess are not to be attributed to Mr. Orman, but a large part of the commendable improvements are, in part, due to his unselfish pride and patriotism. In all his activities he has maintained an unusual degree of modesty and unpretentiousness.

Mr. Orman is a member of the Methodist Church and a Democrat. He was married in October, 1903, in Tuscumbia, to Miss Birdie Cleere, daughter of George D. and Clementine (Smith) Cleere of Newburgh. Mrs. Orman is prominent in the social life of Russellville, and descended from two old and prominent Franklin County families. They have two sons, John Edward and Morrison Dudley. Both are prominent young men of Russellville.


Source: Source: James, R. L. Distinguished Men, Women and Families of Franklin County, Alabama. Russellville, Ala., Private Publication, 1928. 111 p.

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