While I’ve been updating my research on my ancestor, Richard Foster, it is hard to limit my research to just Richard and not research the entire Foster family in Ross and Pike counties. Thus, when I found ‘John Foster’s Reminiscences’ in the Franklin Township chapter of the book about the Early Settlers and Settlement of Ross County, Ohio, I had to take note. (on archive.org)
Early Settlers and Settlement
Ross County, Ohio
By Isaac J. Finley and Rufus Putnam
Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1871
John Foster’s Reminiscences
Colonel Foster’s father came to Ohio in the year 1796, on an exploring expedition. He first went to Kentucky to see his brother-in-law, whose name was Cheneworth. He came up the Ohio river to the mouth of the Scioto, and up the Scioto in a canoe. In 1798 he emigrated with his family to Ohio from Cumberland county, Md. He first settled in Ross county, now Pike. From there he removed to the farm (where Colonel Foster is now living) on the banks of the Scioto, and lived in a
log cabin about one year, and then built a hewed log house, the first house of the kind erected in the township. It is now standing and in good condition. Mr. Thomas Foster’s family consisted of eight children, six daughters and two sons, John and Joseph. The latter died in the State of Indiana, in 1864 or 1865, at the age of seventy years. John was born August 4, 1801. He has lived in the township all his life, and occupies now the room in which he was born. He is now nearly seventy years of age, but his well-preserved physical condition would not indicate he had reached that period in life. He is a practical farmer, and one of the representative men of that great interest. His father had five brothers, Thomas, John, Benjamin, Joseph, and Richard. Richard was the first settler of Franklin township, when all was a dense wilderness, filled with wild animals of all kinds. Colonel Foster has held several offices during his lifetime, both civil and military. He represented the county in the legislature in 1848; was associate judge for a short time, when he resigned; was colonel of militia for several years, and held township offices, etc., for many years. His family consists of nine children, all living, to-wit : Joseph, William E., Mary Davis, Thomas, Jane Davis, John W., James P., Samuel D., major in late rebellion, and Rebecca Ann.
Rev. John Foster, of the M. E. Church, uncle of Colonel Foster, was born in 1771, died in 1839, was in the war of 1812 as captain of a company, and was father of twelve children, towit: Sarah, Ruth, Catherine, Betsy, Joseph, John, Casandra, Mary, Rachel, Thomas, Rebecca, and Nancy. Lewis Foster, another uncle, was born December 26, 1760, and died at the age of ninety-two or three. Colonel Foster’s father and his father were the first white men who rowed the canoe up the Scioto river. A Mr. Cheneworth came to Ohio the summer before Mr. Foster, but they came in wagons. T. C. Foster, son of Colonel Foster, has seven children, to-wit : Martha, Hannah, James, John, William, and George. James served from August, 1861, to January, 1866, in the late rebellion, in the
33d, 53d, and 59th Ohio 33d, 53d, and 59th Ohio Volunteers, and some months in an Illinois regiment the last year of the rebellion, and six months on Veatch’s staff; was major of regiment eighteen months ; was at the battle of Shiloh, siege of Corinth, battle of Corinth, and in Sturgis’ defeat and battle of Tallulah, and is now treasurer of the township. Colonel Foster has forty-five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
List of Old Settlers— By Colonel Foster.
John Johnston was justice of the peace for twenty-three years; James Greearly, first school teacher; Quin Collins Goddard ; Samuel Wilson built first mill ; Richard Tomlinson, hotel-keeper at Three Locks or State dam, was justice for several years, captain of militia, auctioneer, etc.; John and George Pushon were in the war of 1812; William Ridenger; Enos Moore; John Beauman; Elias Scammehorn, justice of the peace for many years; Joseph Crockett, one of the first settlers on Stony creek ; Jonathan Swyers ; Daniel Swyers was a Revolutionary soldier and was at the battle of Lundy’s Lane; Allen Nixon ; Thomas Louzatta; Saul Phillips; Benjamin Phillips; J. E. Higby, extensive farmer on the river, and father-in-law of Hon. J. H. Keith, of Chillicothe; Sylvester Higby, a justice of the peace for several years, held other township offices ; Samuel Wood held township offices, was justice of the peace, etc.; Peter Bennett held township offices, and was captain of militia; S. O. Barker, justice of the peace for many years, township clerk, etc. ; James Pry; Edward Hurdell. Joseph Hern emigrated to Ohio from Germany in 1817; Mr. Hern was a soldier under Bonaparte, and was at Strasburg when Bonaparte was driven back from Russia. He went as a substitute for his brother, who is now drawing a yearly pension for his services, which Mr. Hern seems to think unjust. He will be seventy years old in April next, and is hale and hearty, and looks as though he might live that much longer ; he is a farmer, and keeps also a grocery store on the banks of the Ohio canal. Just below Mr. Hern’s grocery are
the three locks and the State dam across the Scioto river. The dam is nearly one hundred yards in length, and is quite a resort for fishing parties, and Mr. Hern is always prepared to entertain guests on those occasions in the best style, with anything they may call for. Thomas Tomlinson was the first lock tender, and Richard Tomlinson was tlie first grocer, at these locks.
Mr. James Davis’ Reminiscences.
His father emigrated to Ohio in 1808, and settled on the high banks of the Scioto. His family consisted of eight children, to-wit: William, Lotha, James, Hannah, Marj’, George, Charles, and Louisa. They removed to Franklin township about 1815. He has held township offices in different capacities almost all his life. He used to be a flatboatman, and take his boats to Natchez and New Orleans trading. This occupation he followed for many years. He would sell his cargo and boats, and then foot it home. James has held different township offices. On his father’s farm there was an old Indian burying ground, containing at first about twenty acres, which has from time to time been diminished by the washing away of the bank by the river, and is now almost extinct. They used to find many human bones, beads, etc., near and on the ground occupied by this graveyard. There are on the farm some four or five ancient works of different shapes and sizes, and some of them of considerable extent. There is also on this farm a salt spring or deer lick. On James Davis’ farm, some years since, a company bored an oil well some seven hundred feet in depth ; but, like many other companies, they failed to strike He. At the mouth of Stony creek. General McArthur, several years since, bored a salt well, and made a considerable quantity of salt of a very good quality, but it was finally abandoned. On Mr. Davis’ farm is what is known as the Foster Chapel, erected forty years since, and is a good substantial building yet. It belongs to the M. E. denomination. Mr. Davis’ family consists of three children, to-wit: Emma, Mary E., and J. Russell Davis.
In earlier days, Franklin was a great place for game, such as deer, bears, panthers, wild cats, etc. Indians, when Mr. Foster first settled on the river, were very plenty, and they had a trail passing along up the Scioto, which was perceptible for many years. About two miles from Mr. James Davis’ farm is a circular-formed basin, some ten to twenty feet deep, which has the appearance of having at some time been much deeper. This basin is about fifty to sixty feet across, and must have been dug out for some purpose by the aborigines many years since.
We have been shown by Mr. J. C. Foster a beautiful robe, made of four deer skins, which he himself had captured in the hills of Franklin. He is quite a hunter, and says that there are some of those beautiful and timid animals to be found in the neighboring hills yet, which almost tempted us to try our hand. We were shown by Mrs. James Foster quite a large and ancient split-bottom chair, which measured across the seat two feet and nine inches, and was used by her grandmother in her lifetime. The old lady was a very large woman, weighing about four hundred pounds; was born November 13, 1770, and died in the spring of 1841, aged seventy-one years.