Jesse J. Foster

It is believed that this was written in the early 1940's by Jesse J. Foster. Jesse was the son of Josiah Spurlock Foster. In the 1960's Marion Foster Shannon typed it on stationary with her name and address. It was given to Author E. Foster of Ft. Smith, AR. It was sent to me by his son, James Patterson Foster of Ft. Smith, AR. (Thanks Jim)


My father was born November 7, 1846, in DeKalb County, Tennessee, at a small place called Liberty. He was raised at Smithville, Tennessee. He told me many stories of the Civil War, some that I remember. He said my Uncle Bird Foster was in Rock Island Prison in Illinois. This was a Yankee Prison Camp, and all who would take an oath of allegiance to never raise up arms against the North would get $100 and could go home. Some took it, but my uncle would not. One man told my uncle he should take it; that he could show him 5 of the prettiest 20 dollar bills that he had ever seen. Uncle Bird told him to show them to him when he did, Uncle Bird choked him, and ran out through his friends giving them the Money.

There was a charge for any food that you ate and you had to have money before you could eat. They would peddle and sell horse lard. When the prisoners found out they were selling them horse lard, they would catch them and fill their ears full. Uncle Bird wasn't satisfied, so he caught one and stuffed his eyes full. My uncle left to shave and clean up, trying to disguise himself so that the man that he had taken the $100.00 from might not recognize him. The authorities at the Prison lined up all the prisoners for this man to view. He recognized Uncle Bird, and on one of the coldest days of the winter, they stripped him of all clothes, carried him one mile from prison, and made him run back. He said that he nearly froze to death. As he came in the gate his friends said, "Here, Bird, take my clothes."

I saw a man named Jones in Jack County years ago, and I was telling him the story. He stated, "Every word is true, for I was there in prison myself and saw it."

When the war was over and the prison turned the prisoners loose to get home the best they could, they were many miles from home, with no shoes. On the way home, Uncle Bird said, "I am going to whip the first man I meet for a change." They looked down the road and saw a large man driving some oxen. My uncle was a small man, and he said this man was so tall he could not reach him so he told him there was something wrong with one of the oxen's feet. He reached down to see and Uncle Bird hit him. He stated later the he never got such a whipping from anyone as the man gave him.

When Uncle Bird arrived home, my Father was wearing a Norther uniform to keep warm. Uncle Bird took it away from him and whipped him. My Grandfather Foster and my Father were Yankees, as families were divided in those days.

My Uncle Bird was at a dance one night and said he had to dance cross legged to keep from falling through the cracks.

Uncle Tom, the youngest, was a school teacher. I will tell you how he got started. My mother was also a school teacher and she taught him when he was young. I think my mother was a little older that Uncle Tom. My Uncle Tom was a big school teacher. My Uncle Bird was a doctor when he lived in Meridian, Mississippi. When someone got sick he would go and stay with them until they got well or died. I think I have a cousin by the name of Dr. Foster. He would be about my age or more. My Uncle Ras, I don't know much about. I know some things my father told me about Uncle Steve, but I'll tell you about that later. My father, Joe Spurlock Foster, used to peddle fancy goods and notions. He peddled in Tennessee, Maryland, and even in Pennsylvania. He went to the centennial at Philadelphia, and had his shoes stuffed with $100 bills to keep from getting robbed. Later married in Mississippi. He ran a harness shop at Waxahachie, Texas and in Fort Worth, Texas. Ft. Worth is a very large city of about 500 thousand. It was 22 thousand when we moved there in 1894.

I met a man by the name of Jesse Joe Foster only his middle name was Joel. I asked him his father's name and he told me it was Joe S. Foster. I told him that was my father's name and asked what the "S" stood for, but he did not know. If he had said Spurlock, I guess I would have fainted. My grandfather, William Foster, was small in stature. A group of boys and girls were going to a party one night and there were small creeks to cross. The custom was for each boy to carry his girl on his back across the water. Grandpa's girl was a fat one, so he nearly didn't make it. When she thought he might go down, she would say, "Hold up, William!" "Hold up, William!" So, he did make it. But he thought sure he was going down in the creek, with the big fat girl.

Now coming back to Uncle Steve Foster. He was in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee; one of the biggest battles of the Civil War. Papa said the family thought he was lost after the war was over. No one could find Steve, but they saw a man all blacked up with smoke. When they got the smoke off him, they discovered it was Steve Foster. They used the cap and ball rifle in those days, and Uncle Steve said he fired his rifle 108 times, aiming it just like he was shooting at a squirrel. He was so calm that he counted all the shots. My father said Uncle Steve came to Texas after the War and settled in Hunt County with Greenville the county seat.

I am not going to say for sure that this I am going to say, is true, but a few years ago there was a rich J. E. Foster in Ft. Worth that died and he was about 82 years old. He was born in Hunt County. There could not be many Fosters in a county like Hunt County, so I believe he was our cousin. There are several of his children in Forth Worth now. They have a big insurance and house building concern.

The J. E. Foster and Son, Inc.
1101 Summit
Ft. Worth, Texas.

There are 230 Fosters in the Ft. Worth telephone directory.

by Jesse J. Foster
412 Ball St.
Weatherford, Texas

NOTE: Written in with pen after the Weatherford, Texas was 76086. Also written was "I contacted Mr. Foster of the address in Ft. Worth, and had a nice reply, but I can see no connection between his family, & ours. Also contacted Postmaster of Hunt County, & had a letter from a widow Foster. Her husband & in-laws came there from Ala. signed M.F.S.

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