Friday, April 9, 2010

Mom's Two Uncles who died in the Civil War

Our 'Grandma Roe' was Sally Foster. Her father, Andrew Boyd Foster, was detailed in an earlier post. Andrew had two brothers who died in the Civil War. In 'Family Sketches', written by their father, Thomas Boyd Foster, the service records of 5 of his sons are detailed. In this post, I will summarize what he says about his two oldest sons, William Mason Foster, and Samuel Cowan Foster - our Uncles.

First I want to comment on the names. 'Family Sketches' is the only source for their full names, but it is obviously a very reliable, written by their father. Samuel was given the first and last name of his maternal grandfather, Samuel Cowan. William was given the first name of his paternal grandfather, William Foster. He did not have an ancestor with the name Mason, but the Mason family was very close to the Foster family. I have found several cases where middle names were adopted out of respect for a close friend or close family, so this is probably the source of this middle name.

William was the first son of Thomas Boyd Foster and Eleanor Cowan. He was born on March 15, 1838 in Bolivar, Jackson County, Alabama. He entered the Confederate States Army early in the war. His father says that he had broken his thigh as a boy, was lame due to the injury, and could have avoided service because of it. He saw his younger brothers going, and thought he might be of some help to them, so his generosity carried him into battle. The story goes "When killed he was talking to a friend. A bullet struck a tree and glanced and struck him in the breast, and killed him instantly". This was in June 1864 near New Hope Church, Georgia. His Masonic emblems, his watch and his razor were sent home. Almost 30 years later his father wrote "I still have them and as long as I live, will shave with that razor".

Samuel was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Foster. He was born on August 11, 1839. His father wrote that he loved books. He goes on to say he "carried his books in camps, studied while fighting for his rights; professed religion as a boy, and died happy". One day before his brother (William) was killed, the two young men had been in battle together. Samuel received a minor wound, as a bullet passed through the tendon just below his knee, but not breaking any bones. It disabled him enough that he was carried to the hospital. From the description, it seems that the wound must have gotten infected, as his leg was amputated, and he died. Samuel was cared for in the hospital camp by a young woman, a distant relative, who is described only as "the daughter of John Swope". The words of Thomas seem to breath appreciation toward this young lady.

In 'Family Sketches', Thomas describes many troubles caused by the Civil War, the loss of these two oldest sons must have overshadowed all other trials.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Family Sketches - Part 3 - The Death of Our G-G..Grandmother

It is a difficult decision to write this article. Some things are better left behind. The tenderness with which Thomas writes about the loss of his wife is remarkable, and he must have wanted to communicate this to his descendants. Thomas Boyd Foster and Eleanor Susan Cowan had married on April 6 1837 in Bolivar, Jackson County, Alabama. She was pregnant with her 11th child in the early spring of 1854. Here are the events, exactly as Thomas wrote it in January 1893:

"In 1853 but little of importance remembered save work, work. I had to have timber cut and put upon the bank of the river. Money had to be raised for the Pogue land. And I could sell fuel to the steam boats ..... The year 1854 rolls on. The darkest period of my life. In the early part of the year I was at home but little. Had been out attending to the duties of my office. [County Surveyor] Returned home. Had several plats and certificates to make; was engaged in this work. My wife, not feeling well, laid down on a small bed by me. She called my name two or three times in quick succession. I turned toward her. She was going into a spasm. These spasms continued until sometime in the night. She was relieved. Expected to be confined soon after. [give birth] The time came. The spasms returned on the 27th of March 1854, her babe was born. The mother was a corpse. Tongue cannot tell; thoughts, inexperienced cannot imagine. Words, when spoken advisedly, fall from the lips meaningless. Time heals many sorrows. The grave alone can cover these. Nearly half a century has elapsed. The Savior said "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know herafter". The knowing time is at hand. This may be wrong. Father forgive. The next summer after the death of my wife I took my children to the mountain for health."

His normal writing style was not in the short sentences of this paragraph. He obviously remembered Eleanor with a very special love.