FIRST SETTLERS - TOWNSHIP'S FOSTER FATHER - FOSTERBURG VILLAGE - CHANGES IN POPULATION - BUILDERS OF THE TOWNSHIP.
By Professor H. T. McCrea
Fosterburg township located in northwestern part of Madison county has the creditable distinction of being the
only, "dry territory" in the county. For many years no attempt was made to open a dram shop in the township
but later a license was secured and two saloons were opened. These remained in existence for a number of years.
The question of maintaining the saloon, as a legal institution, was then submitted to the people, when by an overwhelming
vote the sale of intoxicating liquors was prohibited.
Fosterburg has always been noted as being a highly moral and law abiding community. Settled a few years previous
to the admission of Illinois as a state, by descendants of the pilgrim fathers from New England, and of the Huguenots
of Virginia and the Carolinas, the qualities which made these pioneers famous, were inherited by their descendants
and became the leading characteristics of the founders of the settlement of Fosterburg. While the composition of
the community has greatly changed the underlying principles by which they are governed remain the same.
Fosterburg comprises town 6 north, range 9, west of the third principal meridian. The first settlers in the
township came probably as early as 1812 or 1814, at the time of the second war with Great Britian. Among these
early settlers were Joseph S. Reynolds, Orman Beeman, James Dabbs, Joshua Wood, Lorenzo Edwards, Daniel Waggoner,
William W. Gallop and Jacob Deck.
The latter was probably the first permanent settler in the township. He with his brothers John and Isaac had much
to do with the early development of the history of the community.
The influences exerted by these men and their descendants is still manifest in the life of the people.
In the year 1818 Green W. Short, a native of Tennessee, and James Dooling, a native of Ireland, settled in what
is now known as the Short and Dooling homesteads.
TOWNSHIP'S FOSTER FATHER
One year later Oliver Foster, a native of New Hampshire, with his wife, a native of Massachusetts, came to this
western country, settling for a few years in Upper Alton. Removing in 1825 to the Foster homestead one mile north
of the present village of Fosterburg, obtaining directly from the government the land upon which he located.
Mr. Foster, being a skilled mechanic, erected what, for many years, was designated as the Foster tavern, the finest
residence in the township. It being located on the Springfield Road, the regular stage route from Alton to Springfield,
it soon became noted as a popular stopping place for travelers.
The tavern was used as a relay station. New teams being here procured for the continuance of the stage run to Springfield.
Usually the stage arrived in the evening, remained over night, resumed the journey on the following morning. Many
prominent people of these early days took advantage of the accommodations offered by the tavern. After the introduction
of railroads, the stage was taken off, and the tavern, as such, was discontinued.
The large barns and the main part of the residence built by Mr. Foster still remain, and are owned and now occupied
by William Niebrugge. Among others of the early settlers, we find the names of William E. Hill, Joseph Sherfy,
William Dillon, John D. Dillon, Geo. Wood, Joshua Wood, John Young, Alexander Hart, James Drenman, William Crowder,
Mark Crowder, William England, Samuel Wilson, David Hill, Asa Brooks, Ransom Chandler, Thomas Eaton, the Titchenal
family and James Bevill.
The plat for the village of Fosterburg was filed for record, in the county clerk's office October 12, 1857,
by Oliver P. Foster, a son of Oliver Foster, after whom the village and town were named. In this same year, Alonzo,
another son of Oliver Foster, moved to the eastern part of the county and in 1860 laid out the town of New Douglas.
The first residence erected in the village of Fosterburg was built by Ransom Chandler, a son of one of the early
settlers, and father of Mrs. H. T. McCrea, now a resident of Alton.
CIVIL WAR RECORDS
The part which the citizens of Fosterburg took in the Civil war is worthy of special mention. No other community
has a fairer record. Company "K" of the 80th Illinois was largely made up of boys from Foster. The following
letter is copied from the Alton Democrat issued in September, 1862.
"Camp Buell, near Louisville, Kentucky, September 12, 1862 - In accordance with a promise I made you before
I left home, I send you a list of our company and its location. The Eightieth Regiment is in General Tirrel's brigade.
Our Company letter is K. All of the boys are well, and all we want to make us efficient soldiers is drill.
"Our brigade is stationed five or six miles southeast of Louisville, and the hills are alive with troups -
how many we do not pretend to know. Our boys are enjoying themselves well - with plenty to eat and drink, and the
best Uncle Sam affords.
"J. A. M."
Muster roll of Company K, loth Regiment Illinois Volunteers:
Captain - Alexander Hodge.
Lieutenants - E. D. Keirsey, John A. Miller.
Sergeants - William J. Robinson, James Hays, Levi Wilson, John T. Thompson, Elias Prewitt.
Corporals - William Webster, James Randsell, John Dorsey, Louis Ralph, Nelson Starkey, James Jackson, Talbud Carter,
Wagoner - Francis M. Ross.
Drummer - William H. Wright.
Fifer - Matthew Riley.
Privates - John D. Bruner, Thomas Boggess, John Bigler, Bales H. Breedlove, John Buel, Charles Bevins, James Brown,
Jarrot H. Bevel, Henry Carter; M. S. G. Clark, Stephen R. Cottom, Alvert Dorsey, Eli Dillon, Newton Dillon, Jasper
Dillon, Levi Dillon, John W. Deck, H. Derouss, Bryan Doyle, Andrew Ferguson, Frank Fisher, Reuben Hawkins, Benjamin
Hawkins, John Hale, Martin Hamilton, Christian Holt, Thomas Humpries, Roswald B. Hand, Perer Howard, Joseph Hader,
Chas. House, Wm. Hill, Jno. Hatter, James H. Johnson, Frederick Klutz, Wm. H. Linder, Richard Linder, Henry Lawrence,
C. C. Loyd, Luther Lyons, W. H. Morgan, Barney McShane, Chas. W. McCauley, Wm. McCauley, Jno. McCauley, Henry C.
Moury, Thomas Osland, Moroni Osland, George W. Owens, James G. Oliver, Paschal Prewitt, David H. Patin, Andrew
E. Rovson, William Ralph, Christian Stark, William Stafford, John Spaulding, Moses Thompson, William Usher, Englehard
Wenok, Calvin Wood, Solomn F. Wood, Jas. G. Wood, Andrew J. Wiggins, Wm. Wadley, Alfred Young.
Enrolled in other Companies of the 80th regiment we find the names of the following: August Neuhaus, Philip Neuhaus,
Frank Foster, Wm. Foster, Frank Williams, Jno. Wortman, Jno. Norris, Wm. Paul, Jno. Miller, Newton Fletcher, August
Dingerson, William Jones, Martin Chandler, Jno. Wortmann, Wm. D. Wilson, Jno. Sherfey, Isaac Sherfey, Hiram Preble,
Robt. Besser, Harlow Bassett, W. E. Lehr, Jacob S. Deck, Jno. Elliott, Chas. Clayton, Jno. D. Heisel, Chas. Herb,
George Miller, John H. Culp, Irby Williams, Chas. R. Besser, Hardin Edwards, John Fosterman, Chas. Gabrille, William
Grimm, William M. Jones, John H. Kamper, M. B. Marshall, Henry V. Miller, Henry C. Sees, Abraham Sherfy, Isaac
Sherfy, William Witt and Simpson Finley.
At the muster out of the regiment John A. Miller had been promoted captain, Elias Prewett, first lieutenant, William
Webster, second lieutenant.
The names given above are only a partial list of the volunteers who went from Fosterburg for the defense of their
The contributor of the article, Lieutenant John A. Miller, was an old time friend of the writer. He lived for many
years after the close of the war.
Captain Hodge of Company K was taken prisoner during the war, and confined for years in Libby prison. His health
was completely undermined by his incarceration. He died in the spring of 1868. A number of those whose names are
mentioned in the list given, still reside in Fosterburg, or its immediate vicinity.
Agriculture is the principal occupation of the inhabitants. For a time, the sawmill and the mining interests were
very important. The coal mined is of a specially fine quality, and is still in good demand for local consumption.
CHANGES IN POPULATION
Very few, comparatively speaking, of the direct descendants of the early settlers now live in the township.
The Foster family which at one time was quite numerous has now but one representative in the township, and no member
of the family now owns any real estate in that neighborhood. The same may be said of the Woods, Decks, Shorts,
Crowders, Eatons, Bevills, Wilsons, Doolings and Chandlers.
BUILDERS OF THE TOWNSHIP
The native stock of the town was almost wholly American. The population now is largely made up of Germans and
their descendants. A good sketch of Fosterburg could not be written without an account of the work of such men
as John D. Dillon, Richard Jinkinson, C. C. Brown, Martin Chandler, Captain Ashlock, Moses Thompson, D. H. Warner,
C. F. Lobbig.
Martin Chandler, born in North Carolina, when a young man obtained a government patent on the land now known as
the Ashlock farm. He with his son Ransom operated one of the first mills in the township.
John D. Dillon's reputation was not confined to his own township. Being a talented musician, he was known and loved
by the young people of all the surrounding country. He was also a skilful blacksmith and wagon maker, no better
wagons were built than those sent out from the Dillon shop.
Richard Jinkinson was a native of England. He came to America when quite young. His father entered the land now
owned by his son, Jno. B. Jinkinson, and known as the Jinkinson farm. While he was successful as a farmer, he devoted
a large portion of his time to other pursuits. As a civil magistrate and auctioneer he was widely known. No legal
transaction was considered by his neighbors, as being well executed if Squire Jinkinson had no part in it. He died
C. C. Brown was also noted as a successful farmer and popular civil magistrate. No citizen of this community was
more highly regarded by all classes of citizens than C. F. Lobbig. All his life was devoted to mercantile pursuits.
For many years, he was the township's only postmaster and treasurer. Many of the older residents of the present
time can recall many kind acts performed by him, in a quiet unobtrusive way, for those that were needing assistance.
His name will always be held in kindly remembrance by those who knew him.
Politically, Fosterburg has always been safely Republican, when party lines have been strictly drawn. The people,
however, have never hesitated to swing to the opposite political party when the necessity of the community seemed
to demand it. The citizens are progressive and wide awake, being truly representative of what is best in our national