Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Uncle William Adams Foster

This is a rewrite and republish for along the way, some how, some way I noticed when doing research a few weeks back that I had accidentally deleted the post I wrote last year. It is all just as well because I have uncovered a couple of new sources. Here is the new post.

Though he lived up in North Dakota and never came to visit, I met my uncle Adams several times in my youth. Adams was born November 17, 1893 in Bathgate, North Dakota, the third child (of eleven) and oldest son of Isaac Jarvis and Laura Elizabeth Armstrong Foster. His full name was William Adams Foster -- William in honor of his paternal grandfather, William K. Foster, and Adams in honor of his maternal grandfather, John Adams Armstrong.

My aunt Charlotte related in her family history that Adams was a sick baby for a spell.

The Houston farm would later be stage for a pivotal event in Adams' life.

Aunt Charlotte counted Adams among the Foster children with brown hair.

Here is a picture of part of the brood.
Adams, Herb, Jim, Charlotte, George, and Bryant Foster.

All the boys, Adams included, worked hard on the farm come threshing time.

A sheaf is a cut bundle of wheat. Sheafs were shocked (stacked upright against one another) to give the wheat an opportunity to dry before the grain was threshed out.

In a comical vein, Adams and his brothers nursed an orphan colt, to the chagrin of Mrs. Stelzer.

William Adams Foster draft registration, World War I.
According to his 1917 draft registration card, Adams was of medium height and medium build. He self described as having brown hair and gray eyes. He claimed no disability.

The story about uncle Adams was that he had fallen from a horse and hit his head. I never knew quite whether to believe it. In my youth I wondered whether that was cover for some congenital condition. Adams lived with his parents, or was a hired hand at a neighboring farm, right up to the time of their deaths in 1934, which would have made him 40 years old. The uncle Adams I knew had no real comprehension of money or ability to support himself. 

The story about the horse it turns out is absolutely true. Here is the January, 1913 published report.
Pembina Pioneer Express, January 31, 1913

Almost a Fatality. 
Adams Foster, oldest son of Sheriff Foster, met with an accident on Thursday evening which nearly proved fatal. The sheep had strayed away from the ranch in the storm in the evening and Mr. Foster and Adams started in different directions to round them up. Mr. Foster returned about 8 o'clock and found the horse Adams had been riding standing loose by the barn. He took his hounds and collie dogs and started out to look him up and finally located him in a straw stack on the John Houston farm. The horse had turned sharply and thown Adams near the stack, rendering him unconscious for a time and when he came too he crawled to the straw stack and covered himself as well as he could. When found he was in a torpor which would probably have been his last sleep had he not been found withing a short time. He suffered no serious results although he was frost bitten on the hands, feet and face. -- Pink Paper.
Grandfather Ike had well trained bloodhounds courtesy of the state penitentiary who favored him with the same because he was county sheriff.

The incident was reported across state lines in Bemidji.
Bemidji Daily Pioneer, January 27, 1913
Down in the state capital, the Tribune made note of the incident as well.
Bismarck Tribune, January 25, 1913

Grand Forks picked up the report too.

The Evening Times (Grand Forks. N. D.), January 24, 1913
The newspaper claim of no serious results proved inaccurate. After his parents passed during the Great Depression, Adams became resident at the Grafton State School (previously the Institution for the Feeble Minded) 35 miles south of Bathgate. On visits we would check him out and take him to the county fair, to visit Bathgate or just down to a local brook for a nice little picnic. Beyond a point in time, Adams would say he was getting tired (he was in his 70s at the time) and he wanted to go home. 

Adams later moved to a nursing home in Grand Forks where he died on March 21, 1977.

Cavalier Chronicle, March 25, 1977
Adams Foster, 83, Grand Forks (formerly of Bathgate, died Monday, March 21 at a Grand Forks Hospital.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, March 23 at the Jensen Funeral Home in Cavalier, Rev. Anthony Adams officiated at the service. Burial was in the Bathgate Cemertery. Arrangements were with Jensen Funeral Home in Cavalier.
Mr. Foster was born Nov. 27, 1893 to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Foster at Bathgate. He spent his early life in the Bathgate area. For the past four years he had been a resident at St. Anne's Guest Home in Grand Forks.
Survivors include four brothers: Herbert and George Foster of Chicago; Bryant Foster, Fresno, Calif., and James Foster, Salem, Ore.; two sisters: Mrs. Margaret Cameron, Evanston, Ill., and Mrs. Roy (Charlotte) Von Alman, Little Fork, Minn. Several newphews and nieces also survive. 
He was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters and one brother.
Adams' tombstone in Bathgate Protestant Cemetery.
God bless William Adams Foster. may he eternally rest in peace.

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