The following was written by Charles F. Curry Jr. of Tampa, Fl. He is the husband of Dorothy Agnes Foster. Dorothy is the great-granddaughter of William Golden Foster through John Byrd and William Byrd Foster.

"Them Ole Fosters"

Whether they are in-laws, out-laws, Datanny's people, or them ole Fosters, they are my second family and I have come to love them as though they were my own--them ole Currys-- which is what them ole Fosters calls 'em.

Foster / Knight

Fosters in America are descendants of Richard Foster, who was born in England in 1619 and died in 1682 in Virginia. Them ole Fosters are a particular branch of the family tree beginning in Mississippi. The Foster family has a rich heritage well beyond the scope of this chapter.

John Byrd Foster was the son of William Golden Foster and Manerva Spurlock Foster and was born 28 April 1839 in Liberty, Tennessee in Dekalb County and grew up there and in Smithville about eight miles southeast. In 1861 at age 22 and a school teacher at Buck Hill, Mississippi, he enlisted in the Confererate Army for the Fifteenth Mississippi Regiment--Company E. He was captured in 1864 and was sent to Federal Rock Island Prison in Illinois where he remained for eighteen months. According to his own writings, his incarceration at Rock Island was not bad at all--seems as if he had a great time instead and it was profitable as well. He studied law and practiced in the county courts of Smithville but apparently quit and moved to Mississippi. where he studied medicine, earned a Doctor of Medicine degree and practiced medicine for thirty years in Meridian. He died 22 Sept 1915 in Mississippi at age 76.

Family records are complete in much detail. They show Byrd had four wives,Sarah Henderson Chaney, Mary Jane Knight, Mary Susan Rutledge,and Laurie Axeth Ellen Herrington and fathered eleven children--six boys and five girls.

Mary Jane Knight Foster was John Byrd's second wife and mother of William Byrd. Owing to the lack of family records,very little is known about her. She was born about 1863 and died about 1899.

Aultmans / Easterlings

The distance from Seminary, Mississippi to a location six miles south of Sumrall is only seventeen miles but in an ox wagon loaded with newly wed belongings it was a long rough trip through the wilderness. This is how Harmon Lott Aultman and his bride Arzella Easterling Aultman came to settle his 159 plus acres of land now known as Oral Community which he obtained from a federal land grant in 1890 by virtue of the 1862 Homestead Act. His certificate number 4270 is signed by President Benjamin Harrison and is dated February 21, 1890. He was the original settler of this community and it is not known if it were Oral at the time of his settling.

Prior to the 1830s, the land of the Aultman Homestead was owned and occupied by the Choctaw and/or Chickasaw Tribes of the Five Civilized Indian Nations. By virtue of the Federal Indian Relocation Act of 1830 and several subsequent treaties with those tribes, and perhaps specifically the Treaty of The Dancing Rabbit Creek with the Choctaws in 1830, ownerships of the lands were transferred to the Federal Government and the Indians were relocated to Indian Territories elsewhere making this land available for government use which eventually was granted to white and Indian homesteaders upon request. Adult Choctaws electing to remain in Mississippi were granted 640 acres plus 320 acres for each child over ten years old, and 120 acres for each child under ten years old.

Over a period of years from the beginning , Harmon built a fine home, barns, and fences, dug a water well, kept cattle, hogs, chickens, and mules and grew cotton, corn, and other vegetable crops and was a very successful farmer. Cotton was a mainstay which produced most of the income. Cattle, hogs, chickens and vegetable crops were mostly food for the table but at times produced revenue. As a highly respected and influential citizen, he was responsible for bringing a school and church to the community and donated the land where they now stand. Getting the school was a long and difficult effort so they appropriately named it Victory School.

Harmon Lott Aultman was the son of John L . and Elizabeth Herrin Aultman and was born 17 May 1861 in Seminary, Mississippi. He died on 7 Jan 1944 at age 83 and is buried in Oral Community Cemetery.

Arzella Easterling Aultman was the daughter of James and Penninah Jane Easterling and was born 14 Feb 1867 in Providence, Mississippi. She died on 6 Apr 1951 at age 84 and is buried in Oral Community Cemetery beside her husband.

Harmon and Arzelle raised a family of seven children--five girls and two boys--all of which were born in the home he built. The youngest child was Gladyce Eure who married William Byrd Foster on 9 Sept 1915.

William Byrd Foster

William ( Will ) was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi on 5 Aug 1891 to John Byrd Foster, an itinerate rural medical doctor and Mary Knight, a Cherokee Indian. Will had four brothers, John, James, Robert, and Alec and two sisters, Eunice and Allene.

Will was in the lumber business and operated a saw mill which moved from place to place depending on timber supply. When the mill was in Tallahala, MS., his failing health forced his early retirement and inability to work at a young age 37 in 1928. The family moved to Oral into a house built by community volunteers and family members next door to the Aultman homestead. His health continued to fail and fourteen years later he passed away on 14 Dec 1942 at age 51 leaving a young 42 year old widow with five children ranging from twenty-two to fourteen years old. Will is buried in the Oral Community Cemetery.

Gladyce Eure Aultman

Gladyce ( Gladys, Maw, Grandmother, Grannie, and Great Grannie, Madam Queen) was born in the Aultman family home at Oral on 13 Jul 1900. She had four sisters, Alice, Ethel, Tamar, and Agnes and two brothers, Mack and Lawrence and she was the baby of the family. At Will's involuntary medical retirement, Gladys was twenty-eight years old and left with children from one year old to ten and a small and inadequate disability payment from an insurance policy as the sole source of income for this family of seven. This would be a tough and seemingly impossible task for a young wife and mother but she was determined and didn't know any better than to try and this courageous woman did.

Of all the people in this world I admire most, Grandmother, the Madam Queen rates pretty high. Facing dire circumstances and with the help of her children, kinfolk and close friends, she took adversity by the tail, flung it around several times and sent it flying far enough away to be out from it's complete control. It was still there but she was fighting and winning. With an indomitable spirit and unyielding will, she and her family planted cotton, which would be a source of revenue, and food crops, and took jobs where ever available to overcome the burden. They were successful. All of her children but Datanny received college degrees. Datanny was in her second year at Mississippi Southern College in Hattiesburg at the time of our marriage and never found the opportunity to return. This is regrettable to me.

After her children were off and married, Madam Queen worked as a dental assistant and did very well for herself. She never made big money but was able to lend financial assistance to all of her children and was never a financial burden to anyone. In fact, she left an modest inheritance to her children. Here is a woman coming from humble beginnings who over came the most difficult and tragic of circumstances, achieved success, and made it possible for her children to do the same. It's not hard to understand why I admire and love this lovely lady. Don't make 'em much like her any more. She stood head and shoulders above her contemporaries. Great Grannie died at age 86 on 2 Nov 1986 and lies next to her beloved Will under a double headstone in Oral Community Cemetery. At her funeral, son Jack tearfully forced a "bye Maw" when he left the grave as he had done many years ago for his Paw. Being denied of a loving husband and a full and wholesome marriage for so many years, it was a grand reunion.

Mary Ophelia Foster

Mary (Sissie, Ophelia, & Feelie) was born on 7 Jan 1918 in Meridian, MS. and married Eugene C. ( Bugger, Bug, June bug , Junior) King Jr. of Purvis, MS. who was born on 13 Jan 1920. Sissie was a school teacher and retired after over thirty years of devoted service. They had no children. He died 17 Dec 1987 and she died on 6 May 1995. He died of a heart attack while driving and she died eight years later of loneliness and a grieving heart--she simply lost her will to live. They are buried side by side in Coaltown Cemetery at Purvis.

Jack Byrd Foster

Jack was born on 7 Mar 1920 in Meridian, Ms and married Dorothy Maxine Cornelius of Purvis Ms. Jack was originally in the sawmill business and ended up owning and managing income producing properties. They had two children Jack Byrd (Buddy) Foster Jr. and Victoria Ann (Vicky). Buddy and his wife, Dana Dameier, have four children--Duncan Allen, Kendall Ann, Leigh Dana, and Owen Kent. Vicky is divorced and has no children. Jack Sr. died on 3 Dec 1988 and is buried in Roseland Park Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Ms.

Harmon Aultman Foster

Harmon was born in Epley, MS. and married Montie Barringer of Marks, MS who was born on ( ? ). Harmon is a medical doctor but is retired from active practice.They had two children Anne Reginetti and Carol Nutt and are divorced. Anne and her husband Bruce have two children-- Brent and Ryan. Carol and her husband Vic have four children-- Christopher Calvert, Lee, Melissa Carol, and Natalie Ann.

Betty Jean Foster

Betty (Bett) was born on in Tallahala, MS and married James W. Chancellor of Hattiesburg, MS who was born in Desota, MS. Betty is a mother,homemaker, and school teacher who retired after twenty years of faithful service. They had two children Rebecca ( Becca & Becky) Kelly and Jane Davis. Rebecca and her husband Rex Kelly have two children--Woodie Christopher (Chris) and Kimberly. Chris married Pam Rasberry and have a daughter Audrey Frances. Jane and her husband Richard Hulon Davis have three children--Richard Scott , Chad Chancellor, and Nicholas Sean. Scott married Carol Hemphill and has a daughter Lauren Riley.

Dorothy Agnes Foster

Dorothy ( Datanny & Seet ) was born in Tallahala, MS and married Charles F. Curry Jr. of Hattiesburg, MS. Datanny is a mother, homemaker, and a retired stenographer. They have two children-- Charles Neil and Bryan Wayne. Neil is divorced and has no children. Bryan is not married.

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