Historical Articles - Foster Twp., Marion Co., Illinois

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The following articles are typed below in their entirety:   

“Brinkerhoff’s History of Marion County, Illinois - 1909” - by Prof. J.H.G. Brinkerhoff; "Foster Township" (pages 156-158)

"Ghost Towns of Marion County" - “Marion County Footprints” - Spring 1984; p. 54-55

"The Kinmundy Express"; Sept. 17, 1992 - "Sandy Branch West" column by Marvin Bassett - "Foster Township History"

Salem Times-Commoner; Salem, Illinois; October 12, 1994 - "A Peek At Our Past" by Dr. George Ross - Foster Township Settlers - Parts I, II, and III

Miscellaneous Information about Foster Township - from a copy of "Footprints in Marion County, Illinois" - Marion County Genealogical and Historical Society


“Brinkerhoff’s History of Marion County, Illinois - 1909” - by Prof. J.H.G. Brinkerhoff; (pages 156-158)

 FOSTER TOWNSHIP

             Foster township is the northernmost of the second tier of townships, east of the west line of the county.  Its survey numbers are town 4, range 2.  This township is drained by both the north fork and the east fork of the Kaskaskia and many tributary creeks.  The first settler in the township was Hardy FOSTER, after whom the township was named.  He was born in Georgia, but had moved to St. Clair county, Illinois, in 1814, and in 1823 came to this county and settled on section 17.  In 1831 he moved to the northwest corner of the township and made improvements on section 8.  He built a state stand about halfway between Salem and Vandalia on the road connecting the two places and kept the stand many years.  In 1833 a post-office was established and he was made postmaster and held the office at the time of his death in 1863, or thirty years.  He was prominent in the early affairs of the county; was a Justice of the Peace many terms and a member of the Legislature one term.  He put up the first horse mill in the township in 1833.  This mill was operated until 1850.

            The next settler in the township was a widow JONES, who with her family of four children, all about grown, came to the township in 1826.  Her sons were Eli W., Joseph A., and Samuel B.  Her daughter soon after they settled here married J.F. HOLT, son of Harmon HOLT, the first settler of Patoka township.  This was the first marriage in the two townships.  The JONES family was very numerous in this township many years, but is now somewhat scattered, although a good representation still remains.

            Andrew FOSTER located on section 21, in 1833, and lived in this township until his death.

            Moses GARRETT, a Georgian, settled on section 10 in 1831, and Isaac NICHOLS in 1830 settled on what is now known as the CALDWELL place.

            The first teacher, Thomas MOON, came from New York and settled on section 16.  The schoolhouse stood near his cabin on the same section.  He died about thirty-five years ago, in Missouri.

            In 1836, Mark COLE, Jonathan GREEN and the DOOLENs, Jesse and Daniel, settled near the north fork.  They each improved farms and raised families and their descendants are still residents of this and adjoining townships.  Ross JONES came from Salem to this township about 1836.  M. SMITH settled in this township in 1831, and died on the farm he settled, near the north fork, some years ago.  John ARNOLD, the founder of the numerous ARNOLD family, came from Georgia in 1844, and settled near the township line, between Foster and Kinmundy.  He put up a horse mill and run it many years.  He lived to be very old and died about twenty years ago.

            The first death in the township was that of Elizabeth MORRIS, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth MORRIS.  She was buried in a box made of puncheons, split out of logs and dressed, and made into a rude coffin by the neighbors.  She was buried on the old Hardy FOSTER place in 1827.

            The first child born in the township was Sallie, daughter of Hardy FOSTER.  She married William DOOLEN.

            On March 6, 1854, Fosterburg was laid out by Hardy FOSTER.  William DOOLEN built a house and put in a stock of general merchandise the same year.  The year before, Samuel B. JONES, Willliam EAGAN and A.H. FOSTER had put up a sawmill, which they run many years.  William RITTER and James ARNOLD afterward built another mill, near the same place.  Daniel McCONNEL, S.B. JONES, Thomas S. JONES and J.W. ARNOLD were the store keepers.  At one time Fosterburg was one of the most promising towns in the county.  It had three stores, a blacksmith and wagon shop, a mill, Methodist Episcopal church, physician, Dr. William WHILE, and was a post town.  Now nothing remains of this village.  The town house since built is all that exists of Fosterburg.

            The following letter from our esteemed friend, Edward J. DOOLEN, gives an interesting sketch of Foster township:

            “Foster township was named for Hardy FOSTER, who was a member of the Legislature, County Judge, and a prominent man in general. Old Fosterburg was laid out and named for him.  This old village is now but a memory, but it was once the center of a great tract of country.  Here was the “manse” of the Methodist circuit rider; here dwelt the Justice; here was the singing school, the spelling school, prayer meeting, preaching and all things social.  On the common, now covered by an orchard, men as raw volunteers were marched and counter-marched by Captains WADDELL and John FOSTER, and by William CROWDER, once a colonel in the Tennessee militia.  The site of Hardy FOSTER’s house which was a log one of a story and a half and which after being torn down and rebuilt is now doing duty as a barn, is occupied by the residence of his son, Harmon FOSTER.  I have seen many men who when young hauled grain and drove turkeys to St. Louis and Belleville from this place.

            “On North Fork creek about eighty yards from the bank and a half mile of Patoka and Foster town line can be found the faint outlines of an old well, dug about the year 1818.  Where the house stood can yet be seen.  In plowing over the spot last spring I found many pieces of dishes of the blue flowered style.  This was the residence of Mrs. Mary JONES, grandmother of Fountain, M.L. and E.W. JONES, and from whom all of the name of JONES in our township descended.  She was born March 1, 1771, and died Christmas day of 1847.  I have seen two of her sons, and in tracing lines of descent of different families I find that she is the ancestor of nearly all in Foster township.  She is buried at Sandy Branch.  I have seen her grave; it is well kept and well marked.  Within a few rods of this old house site an Indian trail crossed the creek.  It is yet very distinct in as many as three different places in the course of a mile.  It lies in a southwest direction and passed very near the DOOLEN schoolhouse.  Northeast of the schoolhouse about three-fourths of a mile is a stone of considerable size, hollowed out basin-like, where the Indians made meal.  I have seen many persons who played around this Old Indian mill.  I myself have searched for it.  It is in a small tract of woodland; it is supposed the creek (Bear Creek) changed its course and buried it.  It is more than likely the trail led by this spot.  The early settlers of this township were southern: FOSTER, HOLT, Mrs. JONES, ARNOLD, all originally from Georgia.   FOSTER and HOLT both married daughters of Mrs. JONES.  At the present time no less than nineteen grandchildren of this woman are living.  Later came others from Kentucky and Tennessee.”

“Edward J. DOOLEN. Vernon, Illinois.  August 25, 1908.”     

We wish to thank Mr. DOOLEN for his letter and say if others had done likewise, every township might have had a better representation.         


"Ghost Towns of Marion County" - “Marion County Footprints” - Spring 1984; p. 54-55

            Fosterburg was laid out on March 6, 1854, by Hardy Foster, a pioneer citizen of Foster township who had served as a member of the legislature and as a county judge.  He had settled here on the old Mt. Vernon to Vandalia Road when it was but a track through the county.  William Doolen built a house in 1854 and put in a stock of groceries, according to Brinkerhoff, who continued,”The year before, Samuel B. Jones, William Eagan and A.H. Foster had put up a sawmill which they ran for many years.  William Ritter and James Arnold afterward built another mill near the same place.  Daniel McConnel, S.B. Jones, Thomas S. Jones and J.W. Arnold were the storekeepers.   At one time, Fosterburg was one of the most promising towns in the county.  It had 3 stores, a blacksmith and wagon shop, a mill, an M.E. church, a physician, Dr. William White, and was a post town.”  A letter written to the “Salem Advocate” in 1859 describes Fosterburg: “It is a beautiful little town fourteen miles northwest of Salem on the Vandalia Road six miles northeast of Patoka and is surrounded with beautiful farms of corn and wheat.  The Methodists have a church here and there are also a few good Baptists.”  Edward J. Doolen wrote in Brinkerhoff’s History, “Here was the manse of the Methodist circuit rider; here dwelt the Justice; here was the singing school, the spelling school, prayer meetings, preaching and all things social.  On the common, now covered by an orchard, men as raw volunteers were marched and countermarched by Capt. Waddell and John Foster and by William Crowder, once a colonel of Tennessee militia.  I have seen many men who when young hauled grain and drove turkeys to St. Louis and Belleville from this place.”  In 1878, John Pulston and Coleman Nichols of Odin opened a new store in the village but it was on the decline, and by 1900 nothing visible remained of Fosterburg.”   


"The Kinmundy Express"; Sept. 17, 1992

"Sandy Branch West" column by Marvin Bassett

"Foster Township History"

Foster Township is a typical rural township located in the northwest quarter of Marion County with survey numbers town 4 north and range 2 east and named after it’s first settler, Hardy Foster, who moved into this county in 1823. This township was settled first by southerners from Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky and later folks from other states joined them along the north fork of the Kaskaskia and along the east fork and other tributary creeks as water and timber were necessary for survival. The next settlers were the Widow Mary Jones and sons, Joseph A., Eli W., Samuel B., and daughter Elizabeth. They were encouraged to move here by another son, James Jones, who was a militia member guarding the surveyors as Marion county was platted into six mile square townships. James Jones married Laura K. Llewellyn at Keysport in 1823, and later moved into the township joining the rest of his family as Hardy Foster had married his sister, Mary "Polly" Jones. Others from the south began to settle and build farm homes in the wilderness land with great hardships but with a vision of a great place to live and raise a family. Moses Garrett, a Georgian, moved in to the township on Section 10 in about 1827. John F. Holt, Isaac Eagan, and Isaac Nichols established homes in 1830, and in 1836 Mark Cole, Jonathan Green, Jesse and Daniel Doolen settled along the north fork and called their neighborhood North Fork. Jonathan Arnold, the founder of the numerous Arnold family, came in 1844 settling just west of Sandy Branch cemetery. By this time many others were migrating to Foster township. Before the end of the nineteenth century, there was or had been a home on nearly every 40 acres.

Hardy Foster, most prominent of the settlers who became a member of the legislature and a County Judge, laid out Fosterburg and it was a thriving settlement until the railroads came through east and west of the Township. Then many residents began to move to Kinmundy and Vernon and start business operations. Lester then became the only business location with a store, post office, school house, and a church building after the Civil War. Fosterburg was well known for many years as the place where Company D of the 111th Illinois Infantry Volunteers were to be organized with Captain John Foster, son of Hardy Foster, as Company Commander.

The first school teacher was Thomas Moon, who settled on Section 16, who provided a schoolhouse near his cabin. By 1920, the Township had eight one room schools: Chance, Zion, Doolen, Arnold Chapel, Jones, Green Ridge, Sandy Branch, and North Fork. With the coming of school consolidation about 1950, the east half of Foster township maintained a school district with students attending at Green Ridge and the west half went to town at Patoka and Vernon. But after a few years and improved roads, the east half joined into a Kinmundy-Alma District, and since 1990, a part of South Central School.

The early church services were held in homes with two of our early settlers as preachers, James Jones and Jesse Doolen the most noted. Sandy Branch shelter was the first place of worship and then a building at Fosterburg was erected and moved later to Lester and became Arnold Chapel, then Zion in Section 19 and Green Ridge Chapel. The dominant protestant faith of the early settlers was Methodist Episcopal.

The cemeteries of Foster Township number eight public burial grounds and one small family plot reflecting the need of the heavily populated rural area. Sandy Branch is the most historical with many of the pioneers and war veterans buried there. Martin, Doolen West, Doolen-North Fork, and Jones are all well kept and used for burial sites. The Caldwell, Holt, and Conant cemeteries are dormant, not having a burial in the last twenty years. A small family plot on A.H. Foster land has been removed from use by the Patoka Conservation Lake expansion.

The first township supervisor was John Wesley Arnold, eldest son of Johnathan and Elizabeth Webb Arnold, who married Nancy Jones, daughter of James and Laura Jones. The local township government has always been adequate to the needs of the people. The present Town Supervisor is Danny L. Garrett, a direct descendant of pioneer Moses Garrett, thereby holding to a tradition of electing native residents to office. Foster Township has the best improved roads of the area, with a state highway running east to west and several miles of county maintained highway, and with the Township roads well maintained, they are second to none.

Rural mail carriers from post offices in Alma, Kinmundy, Patoka, and Vernon deliver mail to the local residents.

During the last decade of the twentieth century, two small churches are all that remain as a place of worship. They are Wesley United Methodist and Greenridge Chapel. The most notable changes to the standard of living came to Foster township in the 1940's, as many of it’s sons went away to service in World War II. During that period, rural electric power came to the area with Tri-County Electric Co-Op formed to supply and services rural Marion County. This made a drastic change in the lifestyle of all rural residents making life in the country comparable to suburban life. Electric power made an impact on the homes and farms, they were able to modernize with appliances and power equipment, and expand their operations to new heights.

Today, in 1992, there has been a great exodus of family farmers during the past twenty years and now only a few large operators till the farmland. Many new homes have been built to replace the old homesteads that once meant so much to our heritage. Probably 90 percent of the local residents of Foster township have outside employment, are retired senior citizens, or part-time farmers.

Whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and quail are plentiful, and most farm ponds are stocked with fish. Our fertile farms and gardens furnish a bountiful supply. Foster township is the home of less than three hundred residents.

Written by J. Marvin Bassett; Residing in Section 22


Salem Times-Commoner; Salem, Illinois; October 12, 1994

"A Peek At Our Past" by Dr. George Ross

Foster Township Settlers

Though it has received little public attention through its long history, Foster has proved to be one of Marion County’s most productive townships. The early settlers found the area surface to be largely covered by forest lands with but little prairie. Below the surface, early explorations revealed the existence of sandstone, shale, and coal. The township is drained by North and East Forks.

Nearly every Foster township settler prior to 1850 came from the South - hardy, industrious, and law abiding citizens who with the eruption of the Civil War proved their allegiance to the Union by providing more than their share of men to fight in it’s defense.

The township was properly named for its first and most prominent citizen, Hardy Foster. This rugged pioneer left his Georgia home in 1814 and, after a short stay in Tennessee, settled near Lebanon in St. Clair County. He frequently made trips into Marion County in quest of bears, deer, and bees. In 1823, he and his brother-in-law, James Jones, established a camp in Foster township on Section 17 situated on the Vandalia-Salem road. By 1831, he moved further north to a spot on the road nearly equidistant between the two towns and constructed a stagecoach stop in Section 8. Here from 1833 until his death in 1863 was housed the post office known as Fosterburg of which he served as postmaster. Foster served in several county offices and was elected to the state assembly in 1838. He was present when Abe Lincoln was said to have jumped from the second floor of the State House in Vandalia rather than vote on a motion to remove the capital to Springfield. He and his wife, Mary (Jones) were the parents of 10 children.

James Jones, likewise, had settled in Foster township by 1827 on Section 6. His family also came from Georgia. He served as a security guard while the surveyors were doing the original survey of the State of Illinois. He went to Missouri where he spent a year before returning and making his permanent home in Section 9.

Mrs. Mary (Whaley) Jones came in 1826 to settle with her nearly grown children on Section 18. Her large family, in addition to James and Mary (Jones) Foster included Rachel Morris, Thomas, Elizabeth Holt, Eli, Joseph A., and Samuel B. Descending from intrepid pioneer mother have been literally hundreds of Foster township citizens. She genuinely left her mark.

Isaac Nichols arrived in 1830 followed by Mordecai Smith in 1831. Born in North Carolina, Mordecai, who came to Salem in 1829 with his father, Alexander, and brother, Britton Smith, settled on the state road near East Fork.

Moses Garrett and his wife, Hannah (Morris), came to Foster township in 1831, buying undeveloped land in Section 10, which was turned into a productive farm. Their children included Winnie Cole, Thomas, Mary Atkins, James, Sarah, Elizabeth Swift, Cynthia Foster, Benjamin and Frances (Fannie) Lansford. Squire Garrett served as a justice of the peace for many years. He died October 3, 1875, and Hannah died on June 29, 1873. They are buried at Sandy Branch Cemetery.

Andrew H. Foster, a nephew of Hardy Foster, settled in 1833 on Section 21 where he resided until his death. Twice married, he was the father of ten.

In 1834, Thomas Moon came to Section 10 where he built a cabin. A school teacher from New York, Moon constructed the first schoolhouse in the township near his home. After several years, he moved on to Missouri.

Mark Cole from Tennessee, Mary Doolen with her sons, Daniel and Jesse from Kentucky, and Johnathan Green from Tennessee, came to the township and settled near North Fork about 1834. Here they developed the land and became farmers - all raising families.

About the same time Ross Jones, who had come from Tennessee and lived a short time in Salem, purchased land one mile north of East Fork on the Vandalia-Salem road and improved a good farm. His sons, Jackson C. and H.B., also became prominent farmers.

John Warren was an early settler in the south-east corner of the township. Coming from Kentucky in 1840, he improved a farm. "He was handy with tools; could stock a plow; make a wagon-bed; he made a good many of the first coffins that were needed in this part of the county", according to Brink-McDonough’s history.

John Arnold who had come from Georgia and was a prominent citizen of the area, constructed a horse mill of East Fork near the eastern boundary of the township in 1844. He also farmed considerable acres. He and his wife raised a family of twelve children, among whom were John W., James A., Felix W., Esther Holt, Nathan, I.A., Nancy Nichols, and Adaline Nichols. The eldest son, John W. improved one of the first prairie farms in the area.

(This account will continue next week.)


"A Peek at Our Past" by Dr. George Ross

Foster Township - II

Hardy and Mary Foster were Foster township’s first settlers in 1823, and, along with their offspring contributed much to its development. Their children included Martha, Mahalia Smith, Sallie Doolen, John, William, Annie, Isabella Morgan, Thomas, Mary (Polly) West, Harmon, and Elizabeth (Bettie) Nevelle. Settlers continued to arrived until the time of the Civil War when nearly all the land in the township had been claimed.

The first death in the township was that of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Morris, in 1827. According to Brink-McDonough, the neighbors "split out puncheons and dressed them up and made a box." In this crude coffin, this young woman was laid to rest on the first farm settled by Hardy Foster. The first birth in the township was that of Mrs. Sallie Doolen, daughter of Hardy and Mary Foster, in 1824.

When the first settlers arrived in the township, they voted in North precinct - one of the county’s two units. In 1832 they were placed in North Fork precinct which consisted of the northwest quarter of the county. In 1867, the growth of population made the Foster precinct possible, and the township was formed in 1874. From assorted sources, some early office holders were identified: John and A.H. Foster, justices of the peace and G.M. Melton and Eli W. Jones, constables of North Fork precinct in 1861; David Doolen, David Nichols, and James Hitchcock, highway commissioners and Thomas J. Foster, Alfred Doolen, and William Chance, election judges, Foster precinct in 1871; J.W. Arnold (1874-6), Noah Curse (1876-9), Thomas J. Foster (1879), W.M. Chance (1880), W.H. Ballance (1881), Henderson Jones (1885), Samuel Jones (1886), H.G. Holt (1890), A.I. Eagan (1896-7), supervisors, Foster township; E.W. Jones (clerk), Thomas Foster (assessor), David Headley (collector), W.H. Ballance and W.M. Chance (justices), Arthur Irwin and Mack Robb (constables), and Charles Lowe, Mack Robb, and S.R. Irwin (commissioners), Foster township, Foster township 1885; and H.A. Hopkins (clerk), B.F. Lowe (collector), and James W. Arnold (school trustee), Foster township, 1886. In 1886 a proposition to move the townhouse near to the center of the township carried. Eli W. Jones of Foster township served as Circuit Clerk of Marion County from 1872 to 1876.

Nearly all of the residents of Foster township were farmers - first engaging in raising corn and livestock, later wheat, and still later, soybeans, while some may have had a second occupation, all of the township’s householders in the 1860 census listed farming as their chosen work except for Thomas Jones (merchant), Jeremiah King (carpenter), W.J. Wellsborough (blacksmith), Richard Massey (M.E. preacher), and James R. Ryman and Robert W. Elder (doctors). The 1870 census indicated that the only non-farmers were A.G. Durmond and Henry Reynolds (millers), and James Ryman (doctor). The 1880 census revealed that Joseph G. Knight, a wagon maker, was the only household head not engaged in farming.

When the Civil War interrupted trade, a number of Foster township farmers experimented with raising crops with which they had been familiar in their native South - cotton, tobacco, and peanuts. They met with a fair degree of success. Charles A. Grubb was still raising peanuts in 1906. Louis Peacock operated a molasses manufacturing mill in the 1880's.

The Salem Herald-Advocate of Jan. 14, 1887, reported that a neighborhood in Foster township was referred to as "Bohemia" after the nationality of its settlers. Among these were the Mazaneks, Douderas, Jezeks, and Bileks.

It was recorded that peddler wagons made frequent trips through Foster township - selling staples and purchasing produce. One of the regulars was from the William K. Simcox had resided for a few years in Foster before moving into Patoka.

(This account will conclude next week.)

NOTE: In the first column in this series on Foster township, the father of Mordecai and Britton Smith was incorrectly listed as "Alexander". It should have been "Abraham".

Resources: (1) Brink-McDonough, Combined Histories of Marion and Clinton Counties, 1881, (2) Brinkerhoff’s History of Marion County, 1909, (3) Footprints in Marion County, Vol. 1, No. 3, Winter 1977.


"A Peek at Our Past" by Dr. George Ross

Foster Township - III

Three post offices existed in Foster township during its history. A post office known as "Foster" was opened at Hardy Foster’s stagecoach stop in 1833. The post office known as Fosterburg began operations when the town was laid out by Hardy Foster on March 6, 1854. He had settled on March 6, 1854. He had settled on the old Salem to Vandalia road when it was but a track through the county. William Doolen built a house in 1854 and put in a stock of groceries, according to Brinkerhoff, who continued, "The year before, Samuel Jones, William Eagan, and A.H. Arnold had put up a sawmill which they ran for many years. William Ritter and James Arnold afterwards built another mill near the same place. Daniel McConnel, S.B. Jones, Thomas S. Jones, and J.W. Arnold were storekeepers. At one time, Fosterburg was one of the most prominent towns in that county. It had three stores, a blacksmith and wagon shop, a mill, an M.E. Church, a physician, Dr. William White, and was a post town." Edward J. Doolen wrote in Brinkerhoff’s history, "Here was the manse of the Methodist circuit rider; here dwelt the Justice; here was the singing school, the spelling school, prayer meetings, preachings, and all things social. On the common, now covered by a orchard, men as raw volunteers were marched and countermarched by Capts. Waddell and John Foster and by William Crowder, once a colonel of the Tennessee militia. I have seen many men who when young hauled grain and drove turkeys to St. Louis and Belleville from this place." In 1878, John Puleston and Coleman Nichols of Odin opened a new store in the village but it was on the decline and by 1900 nothing visible remained of Fosterburg which had ceased to be a post office in 1863 - when Hardy Foster died.

Lester was probably more a state of mind than a physical reality. It was never platted nor did it become a unit of government. Yet it was a genuine community and neighborhood. Lester, located east of Fosterburg, served as a post office from 1864 to 1879 and from 1889 to 1904. Among the postmasters were J.T. Arnold (1889-1891) and A.I. Eagan (1891-1901). The Arnold’s Chapel church and school provided for the spiritual and educational needs of the settlement. General stores were operated in the 1880's by James W. Arnold and in the 1890's by A.I. Eagan, Mills belonging to Mr. Horseman and James W. Arnold were located at Lester.

The Salem Republican on July 21, 1898, announced that a new post office had been established in the northeastern corner of Foster township at Alva. This operation served the Sandy Branch area briefly and was closed in 1901.

Schools in Foster township other than the initial effort by Thomas Moon in 1834, included: Doolen (laid out 200 feet north of his home by Alfred Doolen about 1845 in Section 7), Arnold Chapel (at Lester in Section 10), North Fork (Section 11), Zion (Section 20; building later moved to Patoka, and became the novelty shop known as the Schoolhouse), Jones (Section 21), Oklahoma (at Sandy Branch in Section 23), Chance (Section 31) and Greenridge (Section 35).

Foster township churches included: North Fork (Presbyterian in Section 11), Arnold Chapel (Section 10, at Lester, Northern M.E., among the circuit pastors were J.R. Ryman and James H. Dickens), Zion (Southern M.E., erected in Section 20 of white oak, 34 by 32 feet), Sandy Branch (Section 23, open pavilion, all denominations, scene of camp meetings), and Greenridge (Baptist in Section 35).

Located in the township are the following cemeteries: Doolen/Conant (Section 7), Holt (Section 10), North Fork (Section 11), Frizzel (Section 17), Foster (Section 21), Sandy Branch (Section 24), Jones (Section 28), Caldwell (Section 29), Martin (Section 36), and Peacock.

Although Foster township has had no population centers for many years, distinct neighborhoods have existed and were identified in the October 2, 1973 issue of the Salem Times-Commoner; North Fork, northeast in the township; Arnold Chapel (or Lester), north center; Doolen, northwest; Zion, west center; Jones, center; Sandy Branch, east center; Greenridge, southeast; and Chance, southwest.

The residents of Foster township, like all Americans, made great sacrifices during wars and suffered during the depressions. They were particularly hard hit by the epidemics of small pox in 1915 and influenza in 1918.

On August 20, 1994, the first annual "Lesterfest" was staged at the crossroads where the settlement had stood. Under the leadership of Ken Wadkins, Jack Cox, Richard Jones, John Jones, and Randy and Carol Comer the celebration, which included a program, parade, dinner, and dance, attracted nearly 800 descendants and friends of the settlers of the Lester neighborhood.

NOTE: In the first column in this series on Foster township, the father of Mordecai and Britton Smith was incorrectly listed as "Alexander". It should have been "Abraham".

Resources: (1) Brink-McDonough, Combined Histories of Marion and Clinton Counties, 1881, (2) Brinkerhoff’s History of Marion County, 1909, (3) Footprints in Marion County, Vol. 1, No. 3, Winter 1977.


Miscellaneous Information about Foster Twp. - from a copy of "Footprints in Marion County, Illinois" - Marion County Genealogical and Historical Society

LESTER

While Lester was probably more a state of mind than a physical reality, it was never platted or did it become a unit of government.  Yet it was a genuine community and neighborhood, which left its mark on hundreds of productive and upright American citizens.

Lester served as a U.S. postoffice from 1864 - 1879 and from 1889 - 1904.  Among the postmasters were J.T. Arnold (1889 - 1891) and A.I. Eagan (1891 - 1901). 

The Arnold Chapel Church and school provided for the spiritual and educational needs of the settlement.  General stores were operated in the 1880's by James W. Arnold and in the 1890's by A.I. Eagan.  Mills belonging to Mr. Horseman and James W. Arnold were located at Lester.

Peddler wagons from the William K. Simcox general store in Patoka came through Lester selling staples and buying produce during the later part of the 1800's. 

Arnold Chapel School District #32

Teachers: Mr. Martin, Sherman Kell (1902), Bessie Charlton, Edna Charlton, Grace Tate, Grace Robb, Dove Robb, Robert Quayle, Nelda (Meadors) Wassem, Martha Walker, Gladys (Quayle) Wengert, Anna Eagan Corry, Edwin Walker, Blanche (Doolen) Atkins, Mrs. Ida Williams, Harold Arnold, Howard Thurman, Myra (Headley) Simmons, Ruth (Doolen) Phenney, Lottie Hopkins, Gilbert Doolen, E.W. Arnold.

 Older Residents: John Wesley Arnold, James W. Arnold, Benjamin A. Morgan, George Atkins, Harmon Holt, John F. Holt (first to be buried in Holt Cemetery), Henry Holt, Wesley Doolen, Hardy Foster, Harmon Foster, Lemuel Jackson Lansford, Monroe Lansford, Rev. Cecil Lowe, Cyrus Elmer Arnold, Simpson Walker, Harrison Eagan, Andrew I. Eagan, William and Martha (Holt) Eagan, Jones Arnold, Egbert Holt, Melvin Doolen, William Lowe, John Shaw, Orie Green, Ernie Jones, Dale Arnold, Lewis Jones.

 Foster Township Schools:

Sec. 7 - Doolen - laid out 200 ft. north of his home by Alfred Doolen about 1845.

Sec. 10 - Arnold Chapel

Sec. 11 - North Fork

Sec. 16 - First schoolhouse. First teacher in 1834. Thomas Moon.

Sec. 20 - Zion - building later moved to Patoka and became novelty shop (schoohouse)

Sec. 21 - Jones

Sec. 23 - Oklahoma (also known as Sandy Branch)

Sec. 31 - Chance

Sec. 35 - Greenridge

Foster Twp. Churches:

Sec. 11 - North Fork (Presbyterian)

Sec. 10 - Arnold Chapel - Northern Methodist Episcopal;

among the Circuit pastors were Revs. Justin R. Ryman & James H. Dickens 

Sec. 20 - Zion - Southern M.E. - Erected in 1872 of White Oak - 34' x 32'

Sec. 23 - Sandy Branch - open pavillion - all denominations - camp meetings

Sec. 35 - Greenridge Baptist 

Foster Twp. Cemeteries:

Sec. 7 - Doolen / Conant

Sec. 10 - Holt

Sec. 11 - North Fork / Doolen

Sec. 17 - Frizzel

Sec. 21 - Foster

Sec. 24 - Sandy Branch

Sec. 28 - Jones

Sec. 29 - Caldwell

Sec. 36 - Martin-Peacock

 

Early Settlers: Hardy Foster (1823), James Jones (1823), Mary (Whaley) Jones (1826), Isaac Nichols (1830), Moses Garrett (1831), Mordecai Smith (1831), Andrew H. Foster (1833), Thomas Moon (1834), Daniel Doolen (1834), Mark Cole (1834), Jonathan Green (1834), Ross Jones (1836), John Warren (1840), John Arnold (1844). 

First Death: Elizabeth, 18 year old daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Morris in 1827.

First Birth: Mrs. Sallie Doolen, daughter of Hardy and Mary Foster. 

Early Supervisors: J.W. Arnold (1874, 1875), Noah Cruse (1876, 1877, 1878), Thomas J. Foster (1879), W.M. Chance (1880), W.H. Ballance (1881), Henderson Jones (1885), Samuel Jones (1886), W.H. Ballance (1889), H.G. Holt (1890), A.I. Eagan (1896-97). 

Post Offices: Fosterburg, Lester, Alva.

Notes:

July 4, 1880 (MCH)

AThirty persons were immersed in baptism at Arnold Chapel, 8 miles west of Kinmundy on May 23.  Rev. G.W. Gralee performed the ceremony; J.M. Ballance, local pastor, delivered a discourse at the Chapel.@

Nov. 18, 1886 (SHA)

ANews from Arnold Chapel in Foster Township - The church has been redecorated.  John Jones presented a beautiful hanging lamp.  Rev. H. Kieth preached last Sunday and Mr. and Mrs. B.F. Lowe, Hattie Robb, and two of Mr. Anderson=s daughters joined the church.

Apr. 8, 1886 (PE) - Proposition to move the townhouse closer to the center of Foster township carried.

May 6, 1886 (PE) - Foster township has six schools - four free and two subscriptions.

Oct. 7, 1886 (PE) - Louis Peacock operated a molasses mill in Foster township.

James W. Arnold operated a saw mill and a store at Lester.

 Jan. 14, 1887 (SHA) - There is a neighborhood in Foster township referred to as ABohemia@ after the nationality of many of it=s settlers - Mazaneks, Douderas, Jezeks, Bileks, Polanka, etc.

 1891 - A.I. Eagan opened up store in Lester and became postmaster (10 years).

 July 21, 1898 (SR) - A new post office has been established Alva, 12 miles north of Salem. 

 

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