JAMES FOSTER, a member of the County Board of Supervisors representing Todd's
Point Township, is one of the leading farmers of this locality, and the well-appointed
farm that he owns and occupies was developed by his father, John Foster, a pioneer settler of this
part of Shelby County, from a tract of wild land that he purchased from the Government when he
first came to this State many years ago.
Our subject is a native of Yorkshire, England, born October 21, 1838. His father was born in the
same shire, where his parents spent their entire lives. John Foster was reared and married in the
land of his birth, taking as his wife Ellen Atkinson, also a native of Yorkshire, and a daughter of
Thomas Atkinson. In 1843 Mr. Foster emigrated to this country with his wife and six children setting
sail from Liverpool on the good ship "Glasgow," and landing at New York after a voyage of
six weeks and four days. He proceeded directly to Ohio by the way of the Hudson River and
the Erie Canal to Buffalo, thence by Lake Erie to Cleveland, and from there into the interior of
Ohio by canal to Massillon. He found employment on a farm and resided there until 1849.
Then, having heard favorable accounts of the fertility of the soil and other advantages possessed
by this county, he made his way hither, bringing with him his family, and cast in his lot with the pioneers
of Todds' Point Township. At that time the prairies of Illinois were but sparsely settled, as the
early settlers had considered the timber lands much more desirable in every way, not realizing the
wonderful richness of the prairie soil. Accordingly much of the open land was still in the hands
of the Government and Mr. Foster entered a tract. He erected one of the first frame houses ever built
on the prairies of Todd's Point Township and otherwise improved his place into one of the most
desirable farms in the locality, making it his home until his eyes were closed in death. His wife also
died on the home farm. They reared a family of six children, named as follows: Joseph, Mary, John,
Alice, Thomas and James.
James Foster was a boy of four years when he crossed the Atlantic Ocean with his parents, and
he has a distinct recollection of the incidents of that ever memorable voyage and of the pioneer
life that followed in Ohio and this State. He has been an intelligent witness of the growth of this
county, and has been no unimportant factor in helping to make it a great agricultural center. In
his boyhood he attended the pioneer schools, assisted his father on the farm and continued to live
with his parents until he made a home of his own at the time of his marriage, when he settled on a
part of his father's land. He has since purchased the original homestead, and has greatly increased
its value by the many fine improvements that he has placed upon it, including a commodious and
well-ordered set of frame buildings. He has one hundred and eighty acres of land under a high
State of tillage, and derives a solid income from the cultivation of his fertile fields.
In 1866 Mr. Foster married Miss Martha J. Lenover, and their pleasant wedded life has been
blessed to them by the birth of three children -- Cora Belle, Henry and James. Cora married S.
Wheeler, since deceased, and she lives with her parents. Mrs. Foster is a native of this county,
Shelby Township her birthplace. Her father, John Lenover, was born in Pennsylvania, went from
there to Ohio, thence to Indiana, and finally came to Illinois, and was a pioneer of this county,
where he spent the remainder of his life. He was a skillful blacksmith and followed his trade here
a number of years. His wife died in 1849. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Boys and she was a
sister of Alexander Boys. (For her parental history see sketch of William Boys.) Mrs. Foster is a
member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and as such is true to her religious obligations, as well
as in all things pertaining to her duties as wife, mother and friend.
Mr. Foster is a man of a pleasant, kindly nature, and he has withal in a full measure those practical
traits of character that make him a useful citizen, capable of filling places of trust and honor. His
fellow-citizens, recognizing this, have repeatedly called him to the responsible position of Supervisor,
and he has now been a member of the County Board for some years, being first elected
in 1887, again in 1889, and re-elected in 1890 and 1891. He is a member of the Farmers' Mutual
Benefit Association, and in his politics he is an unswerving Republican.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1891 - p. 526/529
Transcription copyright 2003/2007, Moultrie County ILGenWeb/USGenWeb