Tag Archives: James E. Foster

Momento Mori

This month our family lost one of its oldest surviving members. My father’s oldest cousin. The first grandchild of James E. Foster and Emma (Lawhead) Foster, my great grandparents.

Indiana birth certificate, 1914, “Waneta” Geneva McCammon (Image courtesy Ancestry.com)

Born in 1914, Juanita lived a long life! It was a life filled with tragedy early on. Her mother died when she was not yet five. Her only full sibling, Wesley, died in a car accident on his way to school, aged 11. Her father remarried and produced a large family with his second wife. Jesse McCammon survived until his 101st year, but his daughter surpassed him by celebrating her 103rd birthday last November.

I never met Juanita in person. I corresponded with her a few times after I discovered who she was. I even helped, in a small way, to bridge an introduction between Juanita and another first cousin whose branch of the family had disappeared for 50 years. Juanita shared some lovely stories of my grandmother and my great grandmother Emma. After Juanita’s mother died, she spent parts of her childhood living between her two sets of grandparents.

Gladys Foster with Juanita and Wesley, 1918 (Image author’s private collection)

My grandmother, Gladys, was only ten years older than her niece so they were close when they were younger. When my uncles John and Mark were young, Juanita came to stay for a while to help take care of the boys, while Gladys ran her beauty parlour and Roscoe attended medical school.

I am most grateful to Juanita because she left me a legacy, beyond her letters and stories. Her DNA. Several years ago, unbeknownst to me, her family asked her to do an autosomal DNA test. I use this data on a regular basis. Most likely, without really knowing it, Juanita has helped me to solve several family mysteries over the last few years. I will be forever grateful for Juanita’s willingness to take a DNA test. Rest in peace, dear cousin!

©2018 copyright Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2018/01/20/momento-mori/

Farewell Emma (Gladys)

[Editor’s note: Gladys did not write a letter on October 17th as she was likely too busy with the funeral and all the visiting relatives. Emma’s obituary appeared in the next edition of the Newton County Enterprise. The paper announced that the funeral had been the previous Sunday (10/17).]

016 - Newton County Enterprise 1943-10-21 (Emma Foster Obituary)



Emily Foster, Adda Watkins, Florence Archibald and Dr. Cox Succumed

Mrs. Emily H. Foster

Final rites were conducted from the Hufty-Crane funeral home here for Mrs. Emily H. Foster, 71, Sunday at 2 p.m. with the Rev. V. B. Servies in charge. She died at the St. Elizabeth hospital in Lafayette Friday after a three months illness.

Born at Robinson, Ill., she was married to James E. Foster, in 1894. Surviving are three sons, Jesse, of Arkansas; Glenn, of Nevada, and James, USN, at Norfolk, Va., a daughter, Mrs. Gladys Yegerlehner, of Kentland, and a sister, Mrs. Minerva Metcalf, West Union., Ill. She was a member of the Methodist church.

“Rites Held For Four Recently,” Newton County Enterprise (Kentland, Indiana), 21 October 1943, p. 1.

Foster, Emma (Lawhead) - tombstone

Emma was buried at the Fairlawn Cemetery, Kentland, Indiana. You may visit her memorial at Find A Grave.

 ©2015 copyright Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/04/16/farewell-emma-gladys/

Progress – September 27th

Well, this update is not about the book because I am on book hiatus until the end of October. [Insert crying face emoticon here] I have too many other projects on the stove cooking at the moment to devote time to the book. I am frustrated by this lack of time. I want to be able to focus on the book completely instead of stealing a moment here or there. But the time just is not there at the moment, and I have to be realistic.

My main focus is writing my proof argument for my ProGen Study Group. The first draft was due September 25th which I turned in a few days early. After I wrote mine, I had to review the four papers of my group mates. We have such different writing styles and research problems. It is great to see what we are all working on. This next month we have to take the comments and suggestions of our group mates and polish up our first drafts into the final arguments.

I chose a research problem which I have been working on for 20 years, since I first starting working on Gladys’ family. One branch of her family has Quaker ancestry which stretches back to the early days of Pennsylvania and William Penn. Due to all the various migrations across the eastern part of the United States in the early years of the nineteenth century, some records are non-existent. The purpose of a proof argument is to gather indirect and direct evidence together in one place, and to write an argument “proving” whether or not events occurred. In my case, I have been searching for the parents of Alfred M. Dicks, Gladys’ great grandfather.

I believe I have a very solid argument. My first draft was 18 pages long, and over 6,000 words. I received some good feedback from some of my study group mates, and now I am beginning to make some corrections and additions. It is also my plan to publish the argument as an eBook when I am done in October.

In my genetic genealogy work, my father’s mtDNA results came in last week. I have two exact matches, but I think they are several generations too far away to help me at present. Mitochondrial DNA is the type of DNA which was used to prove that the bones buried under a parking lot in England belonged to Richard III. My goals are a little less lofty, but no less important to me. I am hoping to prove the connection between Sarah Ann (Jewell) Rea and her parents with mitochondrial DNA. The most plausible candidates are John P. Jewell and his wife Mary (Hoagland) Jewell. My father’s haplogroup is H1g1. This haplogroup appears to be more common in Germany and the Northern European countries. If Sarah’s mother was Mary Hoagland (who was of German ancestry), and I can find another of Mary’s descendants who matches, then I may have solved this mystery.

Last night, as I was searching for more information about Crawford and Clark counties (in Illinois) where Gladys’ family lived, I discovered that the Marshall Public library has begun digitizing the local county newspapers, back to the 1850s. This is AMAZING news! I have been stymied by the lack of records access in these two counties for the last two decades. I finally had to step away from the computer at midnight, but I could have gone on for hours more. The website says that they are still scanning and adding more newspapers, so patrons should check back often! [Can you see me doing Snoopy’s happy dance?] I was able to find the obituary of Gladys’ great grandmother, Belinda C. Foster, which previously I had only been able to find in a transcription, and many other little tidbits of gossip about my ancestors.

I will leave you with a small sample from the weekly news gossip column of West York, Illinois, from March 1896, announcing the marriage of Gladys’ parents.

Foster-Lawhead Marriage Announcement, 1896

Clark County Herald (Marshall, Illinois), 11 March 1896, p. 5, col. 2.

©2014 Deborah Sweeney.

Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/09/27/progess-september-27/

Sunday’s Obituary – James E. Foster

Terre Haute Tribune, Saturday, January 29, 1954, p. 2

Terre Haute Tribune, Saturday, January 29, 1954, p. 2


James E. Foster, 85 years old, died at 1 o’clock Thursday afternoon in Warren, Pa. Surviving are two sons, James of Indianapolis and Glenn of Cheyenne, Wyo: one daughter, Mrs. Gladys Yegerlehner of Kentland; two sister, Mrs. Cora Miller and Terre Haute and Mrs. Lizzie Johnson of Largo, Fla., and one brother, R. W. Foster of Sharpsville. The body will be brought to Cross Funeral Home where friends may call after noon Sunday and where services will be at 10 o’clock Monday morning. Burial will be in West York, Ill.

James Edward Foster was born 3 May 1869 in York Township, Clay County, Illinois. He was the eldest surviving son of James B. and Lydia (Dicks) Foster. James and Lydia were the parents of thirteen children of whom only five survived to adulthood. James grew up on his parents’ farm, and after the death of his father in 1887 (when James was 18), he worked as a farm hand. Later he worked as a traveling salesman and a clerk. At the end of his life, he appears to have worked as a gardener.

On 29 February 1896, James married Emma Lawhead in Hutsonville, Illinois. They were the parents of five known children: Lydia Allie, Glenn E., Forrest, James L. and Gladys R. Of the marriage little is known. According to Gladys, her father was an alcoholic. Eventually Emma got tired of James’ behavior and kicked him out. Whether they were officially divorced or not is unknown.

Foster, James E. - St. Louis, Missouri, 1924-05-03

James E. Foster
St. Louis, Missouri
May 3, 1924

©2013 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found at: https://genealogylady.net/2013/11/03/sundays-obitua…james-e-foster/

Happy Birthday Gladys!

Foster, Gladys - 1920s (#1)

Today is the 108th anniversary of Gladys’  birth. She was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the youngest child of James E. Foster and Emma H. (Laughead) Foster. She was an amazing women who lived through extraordinary times. Happy birthday Gladys!

Photograph from the private collection of Deborah Sweeney

©2013 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found at: https://genealogylady.net/2013/11/01/happy-birthday-gladys-2/

Saturday’s Surname – Foster

The Foster Family, by The American Genealogical Research Institite, 1973.

The Foster Family, by The American Genealogical Research Institite, 1973.

Many years ago I was given a copy of the book The Foster Family from the American Genealogical Research Institute. The book is copyrighted  1973 and it does not specify whether there were multiple printings or additions. I know the book was given to me by a well meaning relative but I don’t remember who at this point. The book has several chapters ranging from “the family name and arms”, “census of 1790” and “constructing the foster family tree”. And before you comment upon my lack of capitalization, I am copying straight from the book. Books like this are great for the novice genealogist, I guess. But even when I received the book, I already knew how useless it was for my own research. Books like this are mere grandiose summaries. They talk big, but they have no meat as they are comprised mostly of lists.  And since the book was written in 1973, much of the information is likely inaccurate and obsolete.

One fascinating aspect of the book is the first section “the family name and arms”. It gives a brief history of Europe, which starts laughingly with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the waves of Barbarians sweeping across Europe in the 4th and 5th centuries. Wow! Really, how does this help me trace my Foster family? The narrative continues with the Norman Invasion in 1066 and then engages in a mini lecture on the evolutionary nature of names. According to the book, Foster was originally Forrester. The title of Forrester was given by the Saxons to men appointed to guard the forests and to protect the Lord’s hunting rights. Over time the name Forrester evolved to Forster and then Foster. That may be, but how does that help me trace the lineage of one Gladys Foster, born 1905 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Frankly, it does not. There are multiple origins of the name Foster. What about those individuals who “fostered” children? Or, I like this French version “Shearer or scissors maker” from the Old French “forceter”. Regardless of the actual history of my Foster family, I am sure it has little to do with this pompous tourist brochure that now takes up precious space on my bookshelf. I guess it is good for a laugh or two.

Chart of the children of James B. Foster and Lydia C. (Dicks) Foster, in my grandmother's handwritting

Chart of the children of James B. Foster and Lydia C. (Dicks) Foster, in my grandmother’s handwritting

I was lucky enough to inherit a lineage chart that was written in my grandmother’s handwriting that traced her father’s family. The chart names all of my great grandfather’s siblings and his parents. Considering my grandmother never spoke about her father or his family, it is rather fortunate that the chart even existed. My great grandfather was James Edward “Ned” Foster whose father was James Benjamin Foster whose father was Benjamin Coates Foster. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the end of the line, the brick wall of my Foster family. I have traced the line back as far as my 3rd great grandfather, six generations. That’s decent by some standards, but not good enough by mine. I’ve hit that proverbial brick wall because of those early waves of western migration that brought young Americans from the coastal states to the new territories of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and the lack of proper recordkeeping.

Benjamin Coates Foster was born April 13, 1797 in Pennsylvania. Yeah, Pennsylvania! No county, just Pennsylvania. On the 1800 census, there were 602,365 people enumerated in Pennsylvania. There were at least 68 heads of household with the surname Foster. (I got this figure from Ancestry so we also have to allow for entries misspelled in the index). The first time I can legitimately find Benjamin C. Foster on a document is his marriage on March 28, 1828 in Lawrence County, Illinois to Belinda Barker. He appears on the 1830 census in nearby Clark County, Illinois where he remained the rest of his life. In 1838 and 1839, there were several land purchases in Clark County. Benjamin can be found on the United States censuses for 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870 in Clark County. I have also found him on the Illinois State censuses of 1855 and 1865. One of my favorite things that I learned about Benjamin from the 1850 and 1860 censuses is that Benjamin’s occupation was a tailor! For those of you that don’t know me, I am also a seamstress and pattern maker so it is nice to know that such things are in my genes. This is also why I like the French translation of Foster since it has to do with scissors.

Benjamin and Belinda were blessed with at least 9 children, of which only 6 survived to adulthood, and of those only 4 had children to pass on the genes, 2 were male, leaving my 2nd great grandfather James B. Foster the only child of Benjamin and Belinda to have any male children to pass on the surname of Foster.


I believe this is one of the last letters I have from Uncle Jim for awhile. It is good to know that eventually the brothers-in-law will meet up.

Letter transcription:

U.S.N.C. T.C. Camp Bradford, Ships Co. c/o Camp Allen, N.O.B. Norfolk, VA

Sunday 7 June 1942

Dear Sis-

Just today received a letter from Jake, he wanted me to meet him last night at the Y.M.C.A., mail is not so fast here as you can reddily see, anyway I wrote him and I think we will be able to get together soon.

Please let me know when you plan coming for sure I will try to get two or three nights away if you want me to, if that won’t interfere with your plans, maybe we can have a grand party, or something. Anyway I will get to see you at least once, I am writing to find out if Thelma is going to get a vacation, if she does I will have her down here for a week or two. It won’t be in June I am most sure of that, but sometime later.

Hello John and Mark, you should see your uncle Jim in a sailor uniform.

Love Jim

Protected: Emily Hogue (Lawhead) Foster

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