The Foster’s So Far


The Foster’s So Far

The following is an e-mail I sent to my cousin’s son regarding our Foster ancestry:


I’m glad we connected. It is rare to find a cousin interested in family history. You asked for a little help. Be careful what you ask for . . .

I’ll fill in the details on what I know so far about the Foster’s. Here’s a few bullet points before I get into the details:

The base of our Foster Family history was preserved in a book titled “Park\e\s and Bunch On The Trail West” by Alice Crandall Park. It is out of print but you can buy a reprint from Higginson Books. It’s pricey but essential.
I have participated in a DNA study that has helped track down our history.
We are not Irish. There are misleading genealogies out there that say so. We are most definitely English.
If you have genealogy software, I can send you gedcom files to give you what I have so far.
I am only discussing the Foster’s here, but I have a lot of information on the other lines, as well. (Simmons, Cripe, Hudson, etc.)
So here’s the details on the Foster’s:

Alice Park had extensive records of the family on the “easy to access stuff”. She had a great snapshot of the family from James Foster, Sr. downward. You connect to James Foster, Sr. as follows:

James Foster, Sr. b. 1781, Virginia d. 1849, Missouri
+James Foster, Jr. b. 1811, Tennessee, d. 1876, Missouri
++Guilford Park Foster, b. 1868. Missouri, d. 1952, Missouri
+++Roy Oscar Foster
++++Harold Sanford Foster
+++++Paul Eugene Foster

Alice’s family history was very complete. I found one son of James Foster, Sr that she definitely missed (Elijah). He had moved down to Stone County, Missouri when the family migrated to Missouri. She referenced him in a family story as “Lige” but did not locate him. She also did not mention Maize R. Foster who traveled with the family and may have been another son of James Foster, Sr. He was recorded as serving on a Grand Jury with James Foster, Sr. in 1835 in Benton County, MO. Further research found they had traveled together.

With the exception of those two omissions, Alice’s work was perfect. Today we have access to genealogical tools that she would have loved. (Alice died in 2006 at the age of 104).

I have spent the last 10 years using technology to fill in some of the blanks.

With the digitizing of census records and the creation of databases to store the information, it has become possible to analyze the data in ways never dreamed of. Alice knew that James Foster Sr. had traveled a rout from Virginia-North Carolina-Tennessee-Illinois-Missouri, but she didn’t know where in those states. Census records before 1850 just recorded the name of the head of household and the number and age ranges of the members of the household. There are a LOT of James Foster’s in the world.

Fortunately, our James Foster, Sr. had a lot of children. At least 8. We also knew the ages of all of them so I was able to extract all of the James Foster’s in the state of Illinois in the 1830 census and match the ages of the children to the known ages of our James. Only one family matched, in Morgan County, Illinois. A look at the families around them discovered that they had traveled to Benton and Stone counties with our Fosters.

The same method was used to identify our James Foster in the 1820 and 1810 Bedford County, Tennessee census. We don’t know when James went through North Carolina, but we did not find him in the 1800 census there.

So we knew a LITTLE bit more, but we still didn’t know who his father was. That’s when I used more technology, DNA. Genetic Genealogy is a crap shoot. You send in your sample and then hope that someone else sends in a sample that comes close. I hit the jackpot. A man named William Lindsay Foster had sent in a sample and we matched on 66 of the 67 markers tested and we were only off by 1 on the one we missed. I won’t go into a long explanation on what that means, just trust me when I say that it was a statistical certainty that we were related within the last 8-10 generations.

William had an extensively documented genealogy, but we weren’t in it, yet. But we knew we would find the connection in Virginia or North Carolina since his family didn’t go to Tennessee (he still lives in North Carolina). There was one person in his family that looked, “unusual”. William Foster, Sr. was born in 1752 in Fluvanna County, Virginia and died in 1848 in Davie County, North Carolina. William Foster married Sarah Lay, who was born in 1777, about 1797 and they had five children from whom William Lindsay Foster descended.

Look at those dates carefully. They are unusual. In the late 1700′s a 45 year old man would not normally marry his first wife, who was 20 years old. This screams that Sarah Lay was a second wife and where there is a first wife, there is a likelihood of other children.

And there is where we connect. I am looking for documentation to support this belief, but it may be hard to find.

Here is what your lineage looks like when we connect it to William Lindsay Foster’s:

Robert Thomas Foster, 1569 England d.1622 England
+Richard Foster, b1619 Durhamshire, England d. 1691 Virginia
++John Foster, b 1653, Virginia d. 1734, Virginia
+++James Foster, b.1725, Virginia d. 1795, Virginia
++++William Foster, Sr. b.1752, Virginia d. 1848, North Carolina
+++++James Foster, Sr. b. 1781, Virginia d. 1849, Missouri
++++++James Foster, Jr. b. 1811, Tennessee, d. 1876, Missouri
+++++++Guilford Park Foster, b. 1868. Missouri, d. 1952, Missouri
++++++++Roy Oscar Foster
+++++++++Harold Sanford Foster
++++++++++Paul Eugene Foster

Note: The England genealogy goes back another 8 generations into the 12th century. The records indicate a migration of the Fosters from the north of England, near Northumberland down towards London in the Chelmsford area. No, we’re not Scottish, either. We are English.

Why the long e-mail? I also run a blog at and have a mailing list by the same name. I’ve neglected them both severely the last several months and this gives me something to post! I needed to document this stuff anyway.

I’m glad we connected on Facebook. Please send me updates on your family.