Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside Co. 1885
10 Jun 2005
Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County, IL
Originally published 1885 Chapman Bros., Chicago, IL
Transcribed by: Becky Jones
Charles Foster, one of the solid business men of Whiteside County, resident at Morrison, has been for 30 years connected with its leading business enterprises. In 1855 he came to Sterling, and obtained employment as a clerk; but, his abilities in certain lines soon becoming apparent, he was intrusted with important duties, and in the course of a year he began to operate in his own interests, beginning on a moderate scale, and regulating his efforts as opportunity served to make profitable ventures, until he received the reward of his energy, thrift and exercise of judgment and good sense, and has for years ranked as one of the most deservedly successful men of his generation.
He was born Sept. 2, 1831, near Ithaca, Tompkins Co., N.Y. His father, William Foster, was born in England, Oct. 10, 1807, and married Catherine Chandler, also of English nativity, having been born in that country, Oct. 1, 1805. On coming to America they settled in Tompkins Co., N.Y., where the father still resides, on the homestead, and where his children were born and reared, and where, also, his wife and mother died. Their children were born in the following order: Henrietta was born Jan. 8, 1828, and married John Supplee, of Yates Co., N.Y.; Mr. Foster is the next in order of birth; James E. was born March 16, 1833, and is a farmer in Iowa; John Chandler was born June 6, 1835, and is a seaman and ship-owner; Harriet E., born June 13, 1839, is the wife of Oscar Saunders, a farmer in the vicinity of Robinson, Mich.; George W. was born March 3, 1850, and is engaged in farming in Wells Co., Dak.
Mr. Foster was brought up on the homestead of his father, and when he was 23 years of age he became the owner of a small farm in his native county, which comprised 53 acres of land. On this he operated one year, and in 1854 he determined to seek the broader scope of the West, and test the virtues of its promises, which were so glowing as to tax credulity and tempt an ambitious man to risk his time, if not his resources, in the trial of their merits. Accordingly he came to DeKalb Co., and for a time was employed on a farm in the Township of Sycamore. In the spring of 1855 he came to Sterling, and spent three months as a clerk in a dry-goods store. At the end of that time he was sent by his employers to Morrison to buy grain and live stock, and he operated in their interests about a year. In 1856 he engaged in similar transactions on his own account, and from a small but profitable beginning he gradually increased his operations until the aggregate of his business amounted to $150,000 yearly, and his relations were quite as extensive in Iowa as in his own State. In addition to grain and stock, for a long term of years, he dealt largely in butter, eggs and poultry.
As a representative of his operations some generation in the future may be interested in knowing that his purchases of butter reached 310,000 pounds in a single year; and at the time he was without doubt; the heaviest dealer in butter in Illinois outside of Chicago. In 1882 he relinquished this business, and turned his attention to financial enterprise, and organized the First National Bank of Norfolk, Neb., with a capital of $50,000, his own investment therein being $26,000. A year later he disposed of his interest in the banking house, with the design of withdrawing from active business life, which he has practically done, only occasionally yielding to force of habit and circumstances when he traffics in real estate and engages in lending money. Mr. Foster has never parted ownership with his original land property in Tompkins Co., N.Y., of which he is still the proprietor.
He is also the owner of 60 acres of land in Whiteside County, a portion of which lies within the corporate limits of the city of Morrison. His other claims of real estate include his residence and two other dwellings at Morrison, 320 acres of land in Clark Co., Dak., 480 acres in Stanton Co., New., city property in Benton, Iowa, and in Oneida, Knox Co., Ill.
The first wife of Mr. Foster was formerly Miss Lydia A. Drake, and their marriage took place Nov. 1, 1860. She was born march 19, 1839, and was the daughter of Charles L. and Roxana (Bruce) Drake. From this union five children were born: William C. completed the prescribed course of study in the High School at Morrison, afterward becoming a student at Beloit College, Wisconsin, where he studied two years. He is now Deputy Treasurer of Brown Co., Dak., and is the owner of a half interest in the abstracts of that county; Gertrude M. is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music at Boston; she is a thoroughly accomplished musician; Josephine and Anna B. are the names of the younger children who survive; Charles E. is deceased. The death of the mother occurred at Morrison June 6, 1875.
Mr. Foster contracted a second matrimonial alliance, with Lottie L. Corey, Oct. 3, 1876, at Sturbridge, Mass. She was born in that place April 9, 1844, and is the daughter of George V. and Martha Corey, both of whom are living.