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John Wesley Foster


John Wesley Foster was born in Winston County, Mississippi, son of Asa Foster and Sarah Hyde Foster. Being one of his father's first-born sons, it is sure that Asa spent more time with John than the younger boys in order to teach him how to support a family when the time came. The old ways of the South was to farm, farm, and farm some more. Only the wealthy white southerners had slaves to help in the labor of planting, growing, harvesting, and reaping the crops. John was exposed to this lifestyle. Oral family tradition tells us that John "came from a wealthy faily." Records are NOT able to back this up. Asa Foster was a planter, but according to census records, his personal and real estate had an estimated cost of only 300 dollars in 1860. Therefore, his plantation was probably about 1,000 acres or so. Back in those days the "normal" plantation was about 3,000 acres. Big time plantation owners sometimes owned 20,000 to 40,000 acres of land. Asa did have a few slaves which labored on his farm. However, Asa instilled in his son that the only way to survive in the South in those days was to work by farming - and so he did.

However, times were soon to change. Being born on 15 May 1845 it would be only fifteen years before the country was in total chaos, and even less time before his personal life was to meet chaos of it's own. Sometime before 1856, John's mother died (probably from an illness). Sarah Hyde Foster (1814 - ca 1855) was only about 41 years old when she died. Asa Foster did not remain a widower for long. In 1856 he remarried and started a new family. His bride was a young woman (not much older than John) named Martha Jane Jinks.

The year 1860 brought about many problems in our nation. One of our most well-known and loved presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was harshly hated in the South. As a young man, Lincoln had been to the South and did not like what he saw - men and women being used as slaves because they were of a different race. Lincoln voiced his concerns and disapproval of slavery being used as a method of labor in the South and decided to abolish it if he bacame president. Because of this, southerners, especially the wealthy plantation owners, hated Lincoln. 1860 was the year that Lincoln was elected as President of the United States and, as you can imagine, southerners had a big problem with this. Southern states joined together, including Mississippi, and decided to fight the new president. But how? They seceded, or pulled away, from the United States, forming their own nation and setting up their own government - the Confederate States of America was formed. However, it is not lawful for such to take place. Lincoln still had a control over the South and, therefore, outlawed slavery of any kind. The plantation life of the South had been destroyed, even that of Asa Foster.

John W. Foster was called to fight in the war which grew from the conflicts between the South and President Lincoln. The Civil War, also known as the War Between the States, began in 1861 at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. This is an exerpt from a book on the history of Winston County, Mississippi:

Winston County continued to grow in population until the War Between the States. The citizens of Winston County were among the first to answer the call to arms for the Confederacy and served in almost every area. Not a family got through the long war untouched.
Winston Countian's closest call with war came when Colonel Grierson's yankee raiders camped and plundered throughout the county in 1863 on the way to destroy the railroad junction at Union, Newton County, Mississippi.

John had his part in the action of the Civil War. The following data is taken from copies of John's war records:

John W. Foster was in the Company F 5th Mississippi Infantry, Private; card numbers: 47413848, 474143300, 47413162, 47413417, 47413241, 47416764

J. W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf, Private under Capt. J. A. Comfort's Company, 5th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers; age 17; joined for duty and enrolled 18 October 1861 at Enterprise, Mississippi by J. S. Lanier, Lt. CSA; duty for one year

J. W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf, Private under Capt. Joseph A. Comfort's Company, 5th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers; age 17; called into service of the State of Mississippi for 1 September to 1 October 1861

Jno. W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf, Private under Capt. Joseph A. Comfort's Company (Winston Rifles), Mississippi Volunteers; roll not signed

J. W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf, Private; enlisted for 18 October to 31 December 1861 at Enterprise, MS by J. S. Lanier; duty for 10 months, 6 days; present in command, but sick in quarters

John W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf, Private under Capt. Joseph A. Comfort's Company, 5th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers; age 17; called into service of the State of Mississippi for 26 August 1861 to 26 August 1862; enlisted 3 August 1861 at Louisville, Mississippi by Capt. Jo. S. Reid; 3 days subsistence, 3 days forage; traveling to place of rendezvous is 105 miles

J. W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf, Private; enlisted 18 October 1861 at Enterprise, MS by Lt. Lanier for a period of 10 months and 6 days, paid 31 December 1861 by Capt. Kidd

J. W. Foster, Co. F 5th MS Inf; regimental return from the afore named organization, for the month of June 1862; detached as a sharpshooter

J. W. Foster was in the Company B, 9th Battalion Mississippi Sharp Shooters CSA, Private; card numbers: 47499875, 47500000

J. W. Foster, Co. B, Chalmer's Battalion Mississippi Sharp Shooters, Private; age 17; joined for duty and enrolled 5 August 1861 at Louisville, MS by J. S. Reid for a period of 1 year; last paid by J. R. Kid on 1 March 1862; present in command, bounty due $50, commutation due $25

J. W. Foster, Co. B, Chalmer's Battalion Mississippi Sharp Shooters, Private; enlisted from 30 June to 31 October 1862; discharged and final statement given 26 October 1862, under 18 years of age

John Foster was in the Company D, 35th Mississippi Infantry, Private; card numbers: 47803034, 47803129, 47803227, 47803311

Jno. W. Foster, Co. D 35th Regiment Mississippi appears on a register of patients in Ocmulgee Hospital at Macon, Georgia: admitted 29 July 1864 for chronic diarrhea; furlouged (took leave of command) 4 August 1862 for 30 days

J. W. Foster, Co. D 35th Regiment Mississippi appears on a register of Floyd House and Ocmulgee Hospitals at Macon, Georgia; 1 August 1864 chronic diarrhea, geril debil and emaenation; Post Office Box is at Buckhorn, Mississippi

J. W. Foster, Co. D 35th MS Regiment appears on a receipt roll for clothing for 3rd quarter of 1864; date of issue 13 July 1864: Major J. G. Michailoffsky at Floyd House Hospital, will issue to Private J. W. Foster Co. D 35 Miss Regt who laves for his command the following clothing which he needs ... one jacket, once pair of pants, one shirt, one pair of drawers, one pair of shoes. Signed: G. W. Reed, Surgeon in charge

John Foster, Co. D, 35th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Private; appears on the company muster roll of the above organization for 1 July to 31 October 1863; enlisted on 18 September 1863 at Winston County, MS by W. S. Barry for three years; absent from command, sick

John Foster, Co. D, 35th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Private; appears on the company muster roll of the above organization for November and December 1863; enlisted 18 September 1863 at Winston County, MS by W. S. Barry for three years; absent in command, sick; sent to Forsyth, Georgia 15 December 1863

J. W. Foster, Co. D. 35th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Private; appears on the company muster roll of the above organization for July and August 1864; enlisted 18 September 1863 at Winston County, MS by W. S. Barry for three years; last paid by Major Scott on 31 December 1863; absent from command, sick; sent to Macon, Georgia 27 July 1864

J. W. Foster, Co. D. 35th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Private; appears on the company muster roll of the above organization for March and April 1864; enlisted 18 September 1863 at Winston County, MS by W. S. Barry for three years; last paid 31 December 1863 by Major Scott; absent from command, absent without leave since 27 April 1864

As is seen in the above records, John first joined the Company F, 5th Mississippi Infantry in which he had very little action. He then joined the Company B, 9th Battalion Mississippi Sharp Shooters. He had very little action in that organization also. His action did not start until he joined Company D, 35th Mississippi Regiment. As is shown, he was sent to such places as Forsyth, Georgia and Macon, Georgia. While in Macon he became sick with chronic diarrhea and stayed in the Ocmulgee Hospital for about 30 days.

All this leads up to the fact that at first, John was not away from home for long periods of time. This is why he had the opportunity to marry on 19 April 1863. John's bride was 17 year old Hannah Levanney Eaves. Her life began on 11 August 1845 in Winston County, Mississippi. She was the daughter of James Eaves and Hannah Hyde.
The name Hyde probably seems a bit repetitious. That's because it is a fairly large family in Winston County, Mississippi. Hannah Hyde, mother of Hannah Eaves, and Sarah Hyde, mother of John Foster, were indeed relatives - sisters. Therefore, John married his first cousin.

Hannah's parents, James and Hannah, were very religious people, being charter members of the Perkinsville Baptist Church (now Bethel). Her mother attended the first meeting for the planning of the church in 1848 and her father served on the building and site planning committee. James was a carpenter and farmer. He must have been an excellent carpenter for the last house he built in 1852, the house Hannah grew up in, is still standing nearly 150 years later.

Sadly, Hannah's mother died when Hannah was three years old in 1848. Her father also remarried quickly, to a widow with four children of her own, Elizabeth Whitehead Flake. It was Elizabeth who raised Hannah and brought her up in the way she should be brought up. However, after Hannah's mother's death, her father did not associate with the Hyde family as he once had, therefore Hannah was not raised with her cousins of that side of her family. This is probably why it was easier for Hannah to marry her first cousin, John Wesley Foster.

Change didn't come easy when the Confederate States lost the Civil War after General Lee surrendered in 1865. Lincoln was once again leader of a united United States of America. But, that didn't last long. Lincoln was shot and killed by a southerner who did not know the war was over. Andrew Johnson, a fellow southerner, took office and so began an era of American history known as Reconstruction.

Many things had to be cleaned up in the south - land, people, government, and ways of living. Troubles were not yet over in the nation's government. Politicians, angry that Johnson was placing too much emphasis on the South, decided to bring impeachment charges against the President. These charges fell through the floor and Johnson remained president until the end of his term. When that term was over, Ulysses S. Grant, an alcoholic, became president. Severe troubles arose between the white people and Indians in the west. It seemed the nation was only digging a deeper hole.

Meanwhile, the Foster family began to grow. By the end of Grant's term in 1876, John and Hannah were the parents of six children.

The following account is only thought to be legend. We do not know the complete truth of this story or even if this story is legitimate. As is the case with most family stories, there are two sides to this account:

John Foster and three of his brothers, seeing that relatives were so numerous in the area of Mississippi they lived, decided moving away was a better plan for their children. John had already married his first cousin and therefore saw fit that his children not marry relatives. The four brothers, without their wives and children, left Mississippi and moved into Louisiana. It would be interesting to know which trail they traveled to come into Bienville Parish, for it is said that bandits were prevalent along the Louisiana trails. According to the one tradition, each had an inheritance from their father which they brought with them, but we are unsure exactly how much money it was. This same tradition tells us that John had gold coins.

We are also unsure exactly when they left for Louisiana. One story gives 1875 as the date, but the other gives the mid-1880s. However tax records have been found proving the family was in Louisiana in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Therefore, 1875 is a more logical date, as per the tax records.

With that established, the story continues to say that the brothers settled near present-town of Ashland, John settling on the Bienville/Natchitoches Parishes border. The brothers chose a date in which they would once again meet together and return to Mississippi to retrieve their wives and children. The legend says that John built a large log cabin and barn. When the day came for the brothers to return to Mississippi, John buried his money at a unique tree.

The brothers made it back to Mississippi, but only two decided to bring their families back to Louisiana. It is unknown why the other two decided to stay in Mississippi. Perhaps commerce was looking up for the area? In any event, the two, John and Dave, returned to Louisiana with their families. Dave lived closer to Castor than John. When the family reached John's homestead, they soon saw that a storm had swept through and trees had been knocked down as well as his log cabin and barn. One tree looked liked any other tree and the unique tree, as well as others around, had been uprooted. The legend ends by stating that John never found his money and spent his dying day in search of it.

The other tradition is very similar to the above, but leaves out everything about money. It states that the four Foster brothers were simple farmers in search of land not inhabited by relatives, in hope that their children would have other families to marry into. This story also tells us that John was a sickly man who died of a heart attack. Both stories hold the claim of a storm coming through and knocking the first home down. The second story adds that he had his sons build another home for him as he relaxed on a hammock and supervised. This, of course, is unlikely seeing as how in 1875 his sons were only nine, eight, and four years of age.

John W. Foster is believed to have homesteaded eighty acres of land in Bienville Parish and then another eighty acres in Natchitoches Parish. The limit per parish for one man to homestead was eighty acres and by settling on the border, John was able to homestead land in both parishes.

A few tragedies occured from the era between 1875 and 1892. In this seventeen years, five more children were born to make a total of eleven children. 1884 marked the death of a two year old son. In 1889, his oldest son and no doubt the jewel of his eye died. Also within this seventeen year span, several land transactions were made. Those were as follows:

12 December 1885 Bienville Parish, LA (Vol. N, pg. 790) ... W. A. Simmons sells land to J. W. Foster. 80 acres was sold in Bienville Parish (S 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Section 8 Township 14 Range 8) AND 80 acres was sold in Natchitoches Parish (N 1/2 of NE 1/4 of Section 3 Township 13 Range 8). The total was 160 acres and the price to be paid by Mr. Foster to Mr. Simmons was 4,500 pounds of lint cotton. 1,500 pounds was to be paid on 1 November 1886; 1,500 on 1 November 1887; and 1,500 on 1 November 1888. Witnesses were G. B. Martin and D. F. Williams

4 June 1889 Bienville Parish, LA (Vol. AA, pg. 23) ... Auditors Office of the State of Louisiana certifies that J. W. Foster paid $1.80, full amount of taxes, interests, costs & penalties for 1885. This tax was for the following described land: S 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Section 34 AND N 1/2 of NE 1/4 of Section 3, both in Township 14 and Range 8.

11 March 1889 Bienville Parish, LA (Vol. BB, pg. 258) ... Catherine Harville & Young F. Harville of Red River Parish, LA and Joseph I. Harville & Catherine S. Row of Bienville Parish, LA sells to John W. Foster 80 acres of land in Bienville Parish: S 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 35 Township 13 Range 8 AND, in Natchitoches Parish, N 1/2 of NW 1/4 of Section 2 Township 13 Range 8. Payment due to the Harvilles from Mr. Foster was $250. Witnesses were W. D. Hadwin, S. R. Oldy, J. C. Pearson, and William F. Row.

1 January 1890 Natchitoches Parish, LA (Vol 96, pg. 561) ... John W. Foster, of Bienville Parish, sells to his son, Anderson C. Foster, in the amount of $100, paid through Anderson's labor from 1 Jan 1889 to 1 Jan 1890, 80 acres of land in N 1/2 of NW 1/4 of Section 2 Township 13 Range 8. Witnesses were G. B. Martin and J. H. Griffith

It appears by the above land transactions that at one time John owned about 480 acres of land, eighty being sold to his son Anderson C. Foster. Also by the above transactions we can get a better picture of who his neighbors may have been. It appears logical to point out that G. B. Martin was his neighbor and possibly a close friend seeing as how Mr. Martin witnessed several of the transactions. This would be George B. Martin, native of Kentucky. It has been said that Mr. Martin married Sarah Elizabeth Long, widow of Hardy Jasper Thomas, and aunt to Governor Huey P. Long. Other neighbors and possible friends were the Hadwins and the Harvilles. As you will find later, one line of Harvills married into the Foster family. The Warrens and Reeves also lived nearby. Of the closest of Foster's neighbors were the Sullivans. It is interesting to point out that the Sullivans were also originally from Winston County before coming into the Bienville/Natchitoches area of Louisiana. William Harrison Sullivan, the father of many Sullivans in Ashland, was a brother to John R. Sullivan who married Hannah's sister Sarah. Sarah was his third wife and he was much older. The Sullivans were a higher class people and owned much of the land in the area.

There are no existing individuals who met or personally knew John Wesley Foster. Only stories exist. It is said that John was a sickly man, even in his younger days. He had many bouts with diarrhea which is a sympton of some sort of paratic disease in the intestines. So after thinking over the term "paratic disease" I am sure John was no doubt a sickly man. However, most agree that he died of a heart attack on 2 January 1892. He was in Louisiana between fifteen to seventeen years. He was laid to rest at a cemetery called Ebenezer, just south of the town of Castor in southern Bienville Parish ... about five miles from his homestead. His grave is next to his son's grave.

His widow and young children remained at the homestead. Eventually the children began to marry and move into homes of their own, but Hannah was never left alone. In 1900 Hannah's household consisted of herself, a son, two unmarried daughters, a widowed daughter and seven granchildren, and one of her granddaughter's husband. Thirteen people in one home!!! Her widowed daughter eventually married and Hannah is believed to have spent her last year of life with that family. Hannah died in the same general location on 7 March 1906. She is buried at Ebenezer Cemetery, on her son's left side.

The latest discovery pertaining to the life of John and Hannah is Hannah's attempt to claim pension later in her life. On the 29th day of March, 1904, Hannah filed for pension on her husband's service in the Civil War. It appears that she filled out a questionnaire. Among the questions is "what are your means of support" in which she answered "my labor". In the process of filing pension, we learn a few more interesting facts about this family.

John Foster was honorably discharged on 4 July 1863 at Vicksburg, MS.

John and Hannah were married 19 April 1863 at Perkinsville, MS by John F. Hill, Justice of the Peace. This is important because it tells us: (1) John and Hannah were probably living in Perkinsville. (2) They were not married by a preacher which means they probably eloped or had no formal nor informal ceremony.

The file states that the Foster had been in Louisiana for exactly 30 years which means they had moved here about 1874.

Hannah stated that her husband had served in Company E, 35th Mississippi Regiment. Unfortunately, she stated the wrong company. On 18 Apr 1904 a letter was sent to the Louisiana Board of Pension Commissioners which states "No record has been found of the service of John W. Foster as of Company E, 35th Mississippi Infantry, Confederate States Army." If the War Department had done just a little more research they would have learned that very few companies originated in Louisville, MS. For this fact, there should be no reason why Hannah did not receive any sort of governmental support. But the truth remains, she was denied funds from her husband's activity in war. She probably died a poor woman.

The old house stood for years to come, but eventually was torn down. John's daughter lived in a house of her own on the same property his home was on and, as time went on, that house too was torn down. Several grandchildren owned the property. To get to the house, you must turn off of Foster Arbor Road onto a small trail leading to the home of Thomas Warren. The trail will make a "Y", take the right road (or trail) and the old homestead is down there.


Hannah Levanney Eaves bore eleven children to John Wesley Foster. They are as follows:

1. Julia Anne Elizabeth Foster
2. James Henry Foster
3. Anderson Clark Foster
4. John Wesley Foster, Jr.
5. William Edgar Lee Foster
6. Albert Accie Foster
7. Hester Ann Levanney Foster
8. George Emmitt Foster
9. R. Lee Foster
10. Leear Winston Foster
11. Hartency Lee Foster

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