Bina, as she was known to all, was born in 1890 to Isaac J. Foster and Laura Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Armstrong Foster. She was the eldest of the 11 Foster children who survived infancy. My father, George W. Foster, born 19 years later, was the youngest. Laura Albina Foster, pharmacist in her adulthood, died on November 3, 1928 of mortification of appendicitis. Following are the surprisingly large number of snippets and the themes we have been able to uncover and piece together of her life on this earth.
Until about a year ago the only picture of aunt Bina known to me was her appearance in the iconic 11 Foster family sibling lineup, circa 1911, that we used to introduce the Foster family last year. We reproduce the picture below.
|Laura Albina (Bina) Foster, Florence Foster King, Adams Foster, Grace Foster, Lyndon (Red) Foster, Herbert Foster, Margaret Foster Cameron, Bryant Foster,Jimmy Foster, Charlotte Foster Von Allman and George Washington Foster|
Bina is on the far left. My dad is on the far right.
|Frank and Albina Wasgatt, July, 1952|
Like her sister Florence Armstrong Hoskins, Albina Armstrong had married a lawyer. Frank Wasgatt (1870-1954) attended Parker College and Hamline University, and received a law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1896. As is not surprising given his stature even at an advanced age, he was a jock. Frank Wasgatt lettered in baseball and was renown as one of the best baseball and football players, and golfers that his home town had ever produced. He was a prominent businessman and had a private law practice in Winnebago, Minnesota where he resided 87 of his 88 years. The Wasgatt's had four sons.
|Grace, Albina and Florence Foster|
In the last year or so, we have come into possession of several additional pictures of Bina thanks to gracious and helpful cousins.
As a girl, Bina had several long ringlets of hair draped over her shoulder and flowing down the nape of her neck. We have this photo of Bina (to the right) courtesy of our intrepid California cousin. Bina's younger sisters Grace, and Florence are on Bina's left and right, respectively. Aren't they precious?
As my aunt Charlotte described it, Bina was among the dark haired children in the Foster clan.
Here is another childhood photo. Bina and her sister Florence are front left, pictured with the O'Sheas.
One time, when Bathgate was ravaged by fire, Bina was front and center helping out the firefighters in concert with her mama and sisters. The next day, sadly, her father Isaac put his inherited coffin building skills to use.
Aunt Charlotte's reporting (she was born in 1906 and would have received the information from others) was off by a year. By virtue of contemporaneous newspaper reports we can pinpoint the date of the fire, and thus also the date of the baby's premature birth.
|Bismarck Tribune, October 27, 1907.|
Bina was musically inclined. She played the piano at home and the organ at church.
Sometimes when playing the organ at church, she led a chorus of her siblings.
Bina's initial foray into professional life was as a teacher, having attended the University of North Dakota long enough to receive a rural school teaching certificate.
Bina and Florence moved west and taught in Belfield, which today is a freshly thriving community centrally located in the Bakken oil fields. After spending one or two school years in Belfield, Bina and Florence stopped by to visit with their aunt, uncle and cousins in Bismarck, on the way back to Bathgate for summer vacation.
|Laura Albina Foster|
I am guessing, but do not really know, that this photo was taken around the time that Bina was a student at college in Fargo.
Her college years there are well documented. Fondly referred to as the "A. C.," North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota was originally named the North Dakota Agricultural College. In Bina's day, the A. C. advertised that "[f]or completeness of equipment and faculties for instruction" the college was "unsurpassed in the Northwest." The college offered courses in pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacy. Tuition was free. Students were responsible only for their own room and board, $3.75 to $5.00 per week.
Aunt Bina attended the A.C. and earned a pharmacy degree.
The first mention we have of her at the university is from the school newspaper in 1911, where it was reported that "Miss Bina Foster was made happy by a short visit from her father last Tuesday afternoon."
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), November 28, 1911|
We learn from these 1911-1912 school year reports that Bina lived in Ceres Hall on campus, "Miss Lancetta Steele was a guest of Bina Foster at Sunday dinner," in January 1912.
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), January 23, 1912|
|Copper Kettle Inn, Fargo, North Dakota, circa 1916.|
Bina was in the first wave of residents housed Ceres Hall, which opened in 1911.
|Ceres Hall post card, circa 1911.|
Here is North Dakota State University's Ceres Hall history blurb.
Ceres Hall was the first women's dormitory on the North Dakota Agricultural College campus. In 1909 the State Legislature approved the construction of a women's building on campus, allocating over $85,000 between 1908-10 for the construction of Ceres Hall. The dormitory accommodated 115 women and contained a cafeteria.
The building was originally to be named after Jessie Slaughter from Bismarck, ND, who was the first female student at NDAC. Fearing that students would nickname the building 'the Slaughter House' it was decided to call it Ceres Hall after the Goddess of Wheat. Today Ceres Hall houses a variety of administrative offices.While taking a two-year long break from the A. C., Bina was admitted as an assistant registered pharmacist by the North Dakota State Pharmaceutical Board .
|Northwestern Druggist, December 1913|
Bina worked in her new chosen field while she stopped out from college.
|Bathgate Pink Paper, June 14, 1914|
Bina ended her break from college in time for the 1914 fall term when she returned to the A C.
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), September 23, 1914|
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), October 21, 1914|
The college newspaper advertised Victrolas for sale at Luger Furniture Co., "[a]lso headquarters for Edison Phonographs and records."
Bina's trip back to Fargo after winter break in 1914-15, and forthcoming graduation, merited mention in the Bathgate newspaper.
|Bathgate Pink Paper, January 13, 1915|
|Bathgate Pink Paper, March 24, 1915|
|Bathgate Pink Paper, June 15, 1915|
The North Dakota Agricultural College
That man is best educated is most useful.SEP 27 1917
GRADUATES FROM TWO-YEAR COURSE IN PHARMACY:
Malvin Ash Baernstein, B. S., '09, 293 Catherine St., Montreal, Canada.After receiving her diploma from the A. C., Bina returned to Bathgate for a time. Within the year she accepted a position in a drug store at Bismarck and moved there to live with relatives.
Orlando Boucher, '15, Esmond
Leroy Cook, '11, Cavalier
Rov G. Cook, '05. Fargo
Gilbert Cnimett, '07* Peter DeBoer, '15, Pollock, S. Dak. A. C.
Male Englehorn, '10, Churchs Ferry A. C.
Einar G. Erickson, '07, Souris
Alfred E. Foss, '09, Hatton
Palmer Foss, '11, Page
Arthur Fossum, '14 Christine
Albina Foster, '15, Bathgate Ross Fowler, '04, Hankinson
Fred Hall, '06, Valley City
A. M. Hammes, '13, Fargo
Lincoln Hanson, '14, Wyndmere
Clarence Hay, '13, Fargo
|Bismarck Tribune, April 4, 1916|
|Bismarck Tribune, April 25, 1916|
Bina took a brief vacation later in the year to visit her sister Florence (Mrs. C. E. King) in Belfied.
|Bismarck Tribune, October 24, 1916|
In Bina's day pharmacies used etched dose cups to mete out prescriptions, including this vintage example from the Finney's Drug Store.
|Vintage dose cup, Finney's Drug Store|
|Bismarck Tribune, July 25, 1916|
|Bismarck Tribune, January 30, 1916|
|Bismarck Tribune, October 28, 1916|
Finney's sold chocolates, and
|Bismarck Tribune, February 13, 1916|
|Bismarck Tribune, August 2, 1916|
|Bismarck Tribune, May 18, 1916|
|Bismarck Tribune, January 13, 1916|
Having started as clerk, Bina no doubt was pleased to leave the Finney Pharmacy to "accept the position of manager of the Milton pharmacy," a billet more fitting of her education.
|Bismarck Tribune, March 6, 1917|
After relocating to Milton, Bina visited college friends back in Fargo.
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), October 28, 1918|
Pre-automobile, a 70 mile round trip without a direct rail link would have been unimaginable.
Lizzie traveled to Milton to care for Bina during the 1918 flu pandemic (tens of millions died worldwide). Then Bina and Lizzie went west to care for Florence Foster King and family.
While in Milton, Bina was listed in the 1920 census as pharmacist, in a household headed by Lisa Swanlow, druggist. The Swanlows owned and operated the Milton pharmacy.
With backup available in Milton, Bina was able to return to Bathgate for a time when the local druggist became incapacitated.
By the early 1922, Bina had moved on to Fargo. The alumni association at the A. C. reported:
COLLEGE AND STATEA Publication of the North Dakota Agricultural College, Fargo, VOL. IV., JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1922, No. 1We have this picture from our California cousin of women of the Foster/Armstrong clan, I am guessing in the early 1920s, decked out in their winter finery. Love those hats!
The dispensaries of both the Fargo Clinic and St. John Hospital, Fargo, are directed by graduates of this school. Albina Foster, '15, manages the Fargo Clinic dispensary, and Keziah Evinason, '20, that of St. John's hospital.
|Grace Foster, Aunt Angelia, Aunt Albina Catista Armstrong Wasgatt,|
Bina Foster, and Laura Elizabeth Armstrong Foster.
The next news we have of Bina, tragically, is her obituary.
Albina Foster Laid to Rest
The death of Laura Albina Foster, which occured on Saturday, November 3rd, at a hospital in Grand Forks, came as a shock to the Bathgate community when it was reported after an operation of about a week, from mortification of appendicitis.
Bina as she was called in the Bathgate community was born in Bathgate in 1890, the beloved daughter of our citizens Mr. and Mrs. I. J. Foster. After graduating from Bathgate High School she taught school at Bellefield N. D. for two years, later she went to the A. C. at Fargo and graduated from the Pharmaceutical school in 1915. Miss Foster has been employed in several towns in North Dakota, the latest at the Fargo Clinic and at Vold's Drug Store at Grand Forks. She passed the State Board of Examinations of Pharmacists in 1926.
Bina was a member of the Bathgate Baptist church and of the order of the Eastern Star, she was also active in Sunday School work and very much interested in ministries.
Miss Foster was a member of the Phi Omega Pi Sorority at the A. C. and of the Quota Club of Fargo.
On Monday her remains were taken to Bathgate and laid in state at the M. E. church until Tuesday at two o'clock when services were conducted by Rev. Cawthorne of Neche, and was laid to rest by her sister [Grace] who preceded her in death in the year of 1926.
Vintage dose cup, Vold's Drug store.Aunt Bina may have used this cup orone like it to mete out prescriptions
The floral offerings were many and beautiful. The floral offerings were from friends and relatives of Chicago, Milton, Fargo, Winnebago, Minn., Grafton, Minneapolis and Bismarck.
As a member of her church and services to her creator Bina Foster was an example in service in always giving the helping hand.
The community extends to the sorrowing ones their sincere sympathy.
Bina leaves to mourn her father and mother, three sisters, five brothers and many, many friends.Brothers Herb and Jim, and sister Charlotte, came back to Bathgate for the funeral, as did Mrs. F. G. (Albina Armstrong) Wasgatt.
|Cavalier Chronicle, November 16, 1928|
In death, Albina's Phi Omega Pi sorority recognized high achievement in scholarship by the Albina Foster prize, "awarded annually by the sorority alumnae to the active member of the group attaining the highest scholastic average during the year." Miss Doris Wilner won the initial award in 1929. Ila May Tucker was the recipient in 1930.
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.),|
March 5, 1929
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.),|
March 14, 1930
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), /|
December 19, 1943
In later years qualifications for the Albina Foster award were broadened to be given to "an upperclass girl who has shown outstanding qualities of leadership within the fraternity and in extra-curricular activities and at the same time has maintained a good average." In 1941, the award was made to Jean Halbeisen. Bernise Wichmann was the award recipient in 1943. Beverly Halbeisen received the Albina Foster award in 1945.
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.),|
March 7, 1941
|The Weekly Spectrum (N. Dak. Ag. Col.), March 8, 1945|
|Laura Albina Foster's headstone in Bathgate protestant cemetery, located on land donated by William Foster, Bina's grandfather.|