William M. Foster

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, April 17, 1901
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William M. Foster.

Last week, we made record of the death of William Morris Foster in Lyle township, April 9, 1901. He was born at Dennis Creek, Cape May county, N. J., Nov. 12, 1830. He was the son of James and Judith (Hickman) Foster. The father was in the provision business at Dennis Creek for nearly thirty years until he came west in 1848. James spent his boyhood days in the old home and received a common school education. In 1848, he came with his parents and the rest of the family to Sangamon county, Ill., where they lived for six years when they sold out and came to Minnesota territory, coming with a pair of horses and wagon, bringing their household goods with them. They settled in Lyle township near the banks of the Cedar, reaching here June 7, 1854, and first built a log house which gave way later to a frame building. They were among the very first settlers of Lyle township, Orlando Wilder, Eben Merry, John Tifft and William Bean being the other '54 settlers. The year previous Mr. Woodbury had settled on Woodbury creek and in 1854 his three sons-in-law came but they sold soon out and moved away. They found all the inconveniences of pioneer life. For their mail and provisions they were obliged for a while to go to Auburn, Fayette, county, a distance of eighty miles. Later a mail route was established from Osage to Austin.

William thus became identified with the entire history of Lyle from its first history. He saw, the steady tide of immigration flowing in until Lyle became one of the most prosperous parts of the county. He never married. He lived in Lyle withhis (sic) death with the exception of trips which he occasionally made. He was and honest, upright, industrious man and was always well liked by those who knew him. He was an especial friend of children who were drawn to him by his kindly disposition. Every one knew him as "Uncle Billy."

He was one of nine children, six boys and three girls. He was the fourth son. Two brothers, George and Joseph Foster of Morris, Ill., and two sisters, Mrs. David Aultfather and Mrs. James Parmenter of Austin township, survive. The father died Jan. 2, 1875, aged 84 years, 10 months. The mother died October 20, 1888, aged 86. For the past ten years deceased made his home with his niece Mrs. V. L Vest in Lyle township. He had been in poor health for nearly a year past. Death came to his relief April 9.

Thus another of the pioneers has gone from among us. How much we owe to them all. How few remain of those whose brawn and brain changed this wilderness to marvelous fertility and laid the foundations so deep and strong for all the social, educational, religious and material advantages to which we are heirs.