Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Foster Family: Politicians 'R Us

We are no Bushes or Kennedy's, but the Foster family has had more than its fair share of politicians and political activists.

My father was in it up to his ears. He was Republican precinct captain for two precincts in Morton Grove, Illinois. I knew every household in the 57th and 97th because my dad would recruit me to drop off political fliers at each of the hundreds of homes located therein. He received no personal financial benefit or leverage from his political activism, which vexed his patronage employed political opponents to no end. I remember a time when the Democratic precinct captain showed up at our house and asked my dad to lay off, because his (the Democrat's) pay and opportunity for promotion depended on bringing home votes.

My parents were among an army of Donald
Rumsfeld supporters in this October 24, 1964
The Daily Herald full page campaign ad.

My dad was active in village, township, county and state politics (he was buds with Dick Ogilvie who was Cook County sheriff and Cook County Board president, before being elected Illinois governor), connected to influential politicians at all levels. He was elected to the local park board at one point. I remember when I was a youth, dad supported during his first run for office and had a hook into our elected representative in the U.S. House of Representatives (a fellow by the name of Donald Rumsfeld, if you have ever heard of him).
Dick Cheney replaced Donald Rumsfeld
as chief of staff to President
Gerald R. Ford on November 6, 1975.
When Richard M. Nixon was elected President in 1968, my parents went to DC for the inauguration, where Rumsfeld arranged for them to attend lunch at the U.S. Capitol. Mom and dad reported they sat with and conversed with a very nice man, a fellow by the name of Gerald R. Ford, who became the next President of the United States.

I have blogged about my grandfather, I. J. Foster, who served two terms as Democrat elected sheriff of Pembina county, North Dakota, as well as three terms on the North Dakota state Livestock Sanitary Board. His father and my great grandfather, William K. Foster, was town mayor in the 1880's shortly after founding Bathgate, North Dakota.

My grandfather's brother (my great uncle), George S. Foster, moved south from Bathgate (stopping for a
1904 campaign pin.
degree and a wife in Iowa) to Chicago where he became a Democratic machine politician, served as alderman on the city council for the 27th ward, and was elected municipal judge. He ran for Congress too. 

Bathgate also spawned my uncle, Lyndon R. Foster, who was a partially disabled WW I veteran and California resident; at various times he ran for Los Angeles County supervisor, vied for a seat in the U.S. Congress and competed for the office of Lieutenant Governor in the Golden State as a Republican (the year Ronald Reagan was first elected governor). I found a report he ran for mayor of Los Angeles too.
James Lambert Foster
Alberta MP 1971-1979

I previously noted a cousin up the road in Alberta who was member of the provincial parliament, and who served as Alberta's Attorney General before finishing his career as a provincial judge. It is rumored us Fosters have another relation who sat in the British Columbia parliament in the 1800's. 

On my paternal grandmother's side of the family, my great grandfather, John A. Armstrong, represented Winnebago City in the Minnesota legislature at the turn of the 20th century, after returning from a decade of residence in Bathgate.

In more recent times, my wife's brother was an alderman on the Huntsville, Texas, city council. Her father served two terms on the local school board and was twice elected as Walker County judge on a Democratic ticket (he is an independent who both parties sought out). In his ninth decade Doc Wagamon is still regularly squawking about matters political in letters published by the Huntsville Item.

When it comes to researching family history, political activism is of immense help.  These guys never met a newspaper they didn't like. Yesterday, I ran across pictures of two of them.

President, Clover Cycling Club
My great uncle George S. Foster was president -- president that is of the Clover Cycling Club on the north side of Chicago. These days they would call him a civic activist. Then, as now, civic involvement was a promising predicate to a political career. As reported by the Chicago Interocean on June 6, 1897,
The club succeeded in getting at its head one of the most energetic, influential, and popular citizens of the Twenty-Seventh ward, in the person of George S. Foster who has left nothing undone that would benefit the club in any way. He has donated the club a fine gold cup, for which the club holds races every year.
If he were alive today, I suppose my great uncle George would be adorned in spandex, aggressively patrolling the streets.
Picture from the The Chicago Eagle, March 30, 1901

I never met my Uncle Lyn, but wish I had.  Lyn was a colorful character -- not merely because of his hair color and nickname "Red." He published a rabidly partisan paper called the Los Angeles Equalizer. He once had his apartment bombed by political opponents. And, by all accounts, Lyndon was the California Harold Stassen.  He ran for political office often and never came close to victory. Here is a campaign ad from Lyn's 1944 run for Congress.

Lyndon R Foster was born on September 26th, 1897 and died on December 11th, 1974.
Campaign Ad in the Torrance (California) Herald, May 4, 1944.

Lyn ran on a platform of being an outspoken opponent of governmental waste, needless bureaucracy, and federal encroachment of states' rights.  We need more Lyn's right now.

We are developing plenty more material on Lyn and George S. to present in blog posts to come.

Bismarck Tribune, July 1, 1901, references "Mr. Armstrong held the office of auditor, and at one time represented the county in the legislature. My grandmother, Mrs. I.J. Foster attended the gold anniversary celebration.

1 comment:

  1. Always making stuff up -- the "scandal" was Burks was involved with an insurance company that was tagged by state regulators for financial irregularities during the campaign. The man didn't give up -- he was merely wiped out by the ethical cloud and the new guard.