Foster Overview

My Fosters – one small branch of a very big tree

The history contained here is not about the most prominent or prolific branch of the tangled forest that is the Foster family. However these are my Fosters and from the beginning of my search I have been intrigued how this family found its way across a wide continent of possibilities, always it seems, seeking a new beginning.

This branch of the Foster family begins, as far as we know it,  with John Foster who in 1785 purchased land on Sandy Run, a tributary of the Pacolet river near Grindal Shoals in Union County, South Carolina. The story begins before that – of course, seemingly back up the Great Wagon Road from Maryland, Virginia or Pennsylvania to  Ireland, Wales or England then back to Flanders and the Vikings that overran it and settled there.  But links back that far in time are yet to be rediscovered.

This branch begins, for now, with that John Foster on Sandy Run and extends, all the way to  Lawrence Cloyd Foster born at his father’s farm house in Lunnford, Alberta Canada in 1914.

My Fosters - stops along the wayClick image icon

John Foster

The time table of the birth of his children shows a gap that corresponds with the American Revolution – this suggest separation from family and a likelihood he fought.  So many John Foster’s did fight that it is hard to actually spot ours in the records.

After arriving in Union County South Carolina, various records describe him as first a farmer and then a stiller. Which are the same sort of peace-time titles that were also ascribed to many of his neighboring kin and friends.  James Moseley for example is a local legend as a backwoodsman, Indian fighter before the Revolution and a patriot scout and blacksmith for the Continental army and recorded participation in several battles of that war.  Moseley was a neighbour and kinsman.  John Foster bought his farm from brother in law Nicholas Jasper who had been a militia officer as well.  Nicholas’ brother William is the famous Sargent William Jasper of Fort Sullivan and the Siege of Savannah fame who has statues in Charleston and Savannah plus counties named after him right across the U.S.  So given “the feathers of the birds with which he flocked”, it seems unlikely that John Foster, wherever he was living at the time of the Revolution, found a way to excuse himself from the fight.  Maybe one day the records will make themselves clear.

The last will and testament of John Foster tells us plainly the names of his sons. The structure of the words tells us there are other unnamed children – daughters  and with some additional knowledge, we can infer much fondness for a son that preceded him in death.

Second Generation

In his will John Foster specified his personal property to be given to his wife for her life time and then divided equally between his children with the exceptions of his sons Frederick, John, Jared and Thomas.

Then after deducting 70 acres previously deeded to son Thomas, John Foster decrees one third of his land to his grandson Jeremiah, the son of Frederick, another third to children of son John (commonly recorded as John M.) and one third to the children of Jared.

That grandson Jeremiah (known in the family as Jemima) is specified by name whereas all other grandchildren are identified through their fathers is likely owing to a special fondness because that young Jeremiah is the name sake of deceased eldest son.   Jeremiah and Frederick Foster were enlisted in Means’ 1st SC Militia during the War of 1812 where service records indicate Jeremiah died in hospital at Hadrell’s Point, a garrison in defense of Charleston on January 15 1815 – just as the war was ending.  Frederick named his first son, born the same year, after his departed brother.

As for the other unnamed children we can thank the family historians who have tracked the Hames family for the only name we so far have. Nancy Foster,  was born in Virginia, arrived at Grindal Shoals and eventually became the wife of Sandy Run neighbor Edmond Hames.  Correspondence from the period reveals that Mary McElfresh was called Molly and that she was the sister of Susannah Jasper (Mrs. John Jasper Jr.) and Massey Fitch (Mrs. Daniel Fitch), both married into families that settled in the same region of Union County.

John M. Foster lived out the end of his life along the Pacolet river. Owing to his kinship with Nicolas Foster, it is possible he ventured to Kentucky where he may have been the John M. Foster known to have married the daughter of the governor.  However it is known that this daughter died young and whether or not John M. Foster, son of our John had been her husband, je appears back in Union County and the husband of a local girl, Jane Pickens.  Some of their sons and fdaughters would remain in the area for generations, fight their wars and live there still.

Thomas sold the land his father mentioned in his will to Henry Gault in 1835 and vanished.

 Frederick Foster married Mary “Polly” Pickens and along with his children trace a line rather pararell , geographically at least with younger brother Jared.

 Jared Foster left for Tennessee with Dorcus Moseley in the early 1820s as new Cherokee lands there became available.  Frederick and his family joined them in the early 1830s.  They witnessed the Cherokee removal from that part of Tennessee and Jared served with Major Lauderdale’s Tennessee Volunteers in another action against native Americans, the second Seminole War.  By the 1850s both families were in Jasper County Missouri, along the Kansas border.  


Third Generation

Jared’s oldest two sons were Danis Garrett and John Jr., both born in South Carolina.  It seems most likely that they had been the offspring of Jared’s first marriage.

In Tennessee census records reveal Jared’s household as wife Dorcus and five daughters all born in Tennessee between 1823 and 1830.  Mary, Martha E., Lucinda J., Elisabeth, and Sarah. Son Andrew Jackson Foster came along in 1842 just before the family headed west again.

Jared’s eldest daughter Mary married into the Hooper family and remained in Tennessee.  Son Danis G. also remained with his own family in Tennessee.  The other children, so far as we know moved west again when the family did.

Daughter Elisabeth appears to have befriended and possibly been influenced by a neighbor girl who grew up to be infamous female outlaw Belle Star.  Whether she did or not as has been speculated, Elisabeth Foster Ady Spencer Jones Berman managed to leave her own trail of intrigue later on in Joplin MO and on “Red Hot Street” Galena KS.

Son Francis Marion was born in Prairie Grove County Arkansas in 1846, on the way west and was named for a famous general from South Carolina as was son Andrew Jackson had been earlier. Jared here reveals a special place in his heart remains for South Carolina and military men of the Union.   By 1850 Jared exercised his right to claim 80 acres and he selected a parcel in Jasper County Missouri which he may have been squatting on for some time before that. Brother Frederick and his family also came west and settled in Lawrence County Missouri, a short ways to the east.  Son John Jr. also appears in Jasper County

The farm land was good -the politics were bad. Jasper and Lawrence Counties were embroiled in the border strife caused by the “popular sovereignty” approach Congress had taken to settle the question of slavery in the new states of Kansas and Nebraska.  “Bleeding Kansas” was pitting neighbor against neighbor in guerrilla warfare that spawned outlaw bands like the James and Younger gangs, and the aforementioned Belle Star.

Once actual war finally erupted, several of of Frederick’s sons in law and grandsons served with the Confederate Missouri Home Guard.

Jared and his family moved to Marmaton Kansas in 1861 as war was declared and Andrew J. enlisted in the Union 2nd Kansas Battery of Light Artillery in 1863. As a driver serving with the battery, Private Andrew J. Foster made several marches back into SW Missouri, Arkansas and Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.  We now know that older son Danis G. also joined the Union army back in East Tennessee.  It appears to have been Jared’s families political point of view.

Fourth Generation

After the war Andrew is known to have settled in Montgomery County Kansas at a little community called Westralia. Westralia was a small place with big dreams of the future as so many similar sprouting communities were.  It was however was outgrown and overrun by nearby Coffeyville.

It might have been here, or it might have been still at Marmaton that Andrew J‘s first wife died during childbirth. Her name was Amanda Chester. His daughter, Sarah,  survived and was raised by neighbors, and later moved with her husband to live near her father and half siblings in Washington State.

Born to Andrew and his second wife Hannah Catherine Morgan of Indiana (by way of Missouri) while they lived in Coffeyville were sons Duke, Roscoe, Oscar and daughter Vida.

Andrew J‘s brother Francis M. and his family moved to Coffeyville also and seems to have done very well there.

Following the death of Jared at Westralia in 1876, Andrew packed up his family and moved west. The Oregon Trail was not new by this time, it had by then been well traveled but it still represented new possibilities for many. After a stop in Laramie Wyoming in time for the 1880 census, Son Thomas Ewell was born in Bellvue Idaho in 1882.

At Ione Oregon in 1888 son William Cloyd was born. And by 1892 the whole family were residents of North Bend Washington.  Hops farms there were attracting workers from all over the Pacific North West as local investors were taking advantage of a hops blight in Europe. Hannah picked hops and cooked dinners for the workers.  Andrew J. made a timber claim on the side of Mount Josiah. It is said a tree from his property was cut and loaded on a freight car and exhibited at the 1923 Worlds Fair in St. Louis, a testament to the bounty of the new state of Washington.

Fifth Generation

In 1905 Hannah Catherine Foster left her husband and accompanied sons Duke, Roscoe, Ewell, Oscar and Cloyd to Lunnford Alberta, Canada. The Dominion Lands Act was offering free land to any who would settle it. Before long however Duke and Roscoe returned to Washington State.

Andrew lived out the end of his life at the State Soldiers Home in Orting Washington. According to his letters to Cloyd, he was often visited by his sons and daughters, including the daughter by his deceased first wife.  

Neither Hannah Catherine Foster nor her son Cloyd ever did return to Washington. Andrew’s letters to Cloyd tell him he wold like to see his face again and ask him write more often and to look after and respect his mother.

Cloyd Foster began to farm a quarter section adjoining his brothers at a place called Lunnford Alberta. Less than a mile away a family called Tarplee from an English suburb near Birmingham had claimed land and built a log cabin. Eventually Dorothy Margaret, one of the daughters of Harry R. Tarplee of Erdington England would marry Cloyd.

As a boy  I remember Dorothy Margaret Tarplee Foster, or as I knew her, Grandma Foster,telling me of the day a neighbor child was sick and a rider was needed to hurry to the city of medicine. “It was quite romantic” she told me, to see one of the neighbor boys,  Cloyd Foster, galloping off on his 60 mile journey.

To Cloyd Foster and “Maggie” Tarplee Foster were born Bernice, Lawrence, Maxwell and Don.

Bernice married neighbor farmer Bert Thompson. Lawrence married Jean Walker of a large family from Ontario via Provost Alberta. Maxwell went to war in 1944 and returned with a new bride Sonny _______ but never quite came home, settling instead in Vancouver BC. Don married Viola _______ and his children farm the  original Foster and Tarplee homesteads to this day.


Sixth Generation

Lawrence and Jean opened Foster’s General Store in Manola in 1944 and served that community until they retired in 1978.

Born to Lawrence and Jean were son Marvin Dale Foster in 1946, daughter Marilyn Jean in 1948 then, after the drowning death of Marilyn at age 14, Gregory Lawrence in 1962.

Jean Foster passed away in 1988 and Lawrence remarried Angela Jober.

Lawrence passed away in 2001.  He was the first of this Foster branch to live out his life in the same vicinity in which he was born.

I am Gregory Lawrence Foster. I am writing this for my my kids, my brother Dale, Angela and any of you that might find a family connection you didn’t know about.

I wish dad and mom, Grandma Foster, cousin Elton could have lived to know the more of the story of these Fosters.




Copyright © 2018 These Fosters.