Elizabeth Kegley Foster



Started For Oregon;

Were Stopped By Prairie's Beauty

My father, Lawson Kegley and his brother-in-law, William Farley and their small families started from Indiana in their covered wagons in 1851 to seek new homes in the West. They started to Oregon but when they got as far as Iowa and saw the beautiful prairie they said, "Here we will make our homes."

They camped in the edge of the timber just north of where Osceola now stands, selecting their homesteads at once; they had their choice of land. My father selected his land just 1 1/2 miles north of where Osceola now stands and William Farley chose his joining on the north where there was timber.

The next thing to do was to make their families comfortable until they could build their cabins. My father cut down a tree made some rails for a pen and covered it with brush and grass.

The Farleys lived in their covered wagon. Both families cooked on a fire out by the side of a log until my father built a fireplace of sod with a sod chimney. There was only a dirt floor.

No Doctor

It was here, on the 27th of October, 1851, that I was born. There was no doctor present. An old Mormon woman cared for mother and me. She was one of two families that had become stranded here on their trek to Utah. The names of those families were Cosnor and Langley.

We lived in our cabin for several years until a man came out from the East with a saw mill. Then my father had lumber sawed for a frame house, the only one for miles around. It had one large room downstairs (afterwards partitioned), a half story above and a lean-to kitchen. It was considered a nice structure.

It was here I spent my young womanhood. I attended the first school taught in Osceola in a frame building which stood where the city hall now stands. R. A. Dague was principal, Emma DeZellum first assistant and Georgia Devaul, second assistant. The schoolhouse had one rom upstairs and two down.


Some of the names of the pupils were: Mattie Smith Riley, Florence Tatum, Amanda Lawson, Della Goss, Jennie Goss. Della Kennedy Strawn, Sarah Bowman, Cassie Rork, Alice Kimes, and myself. The boys were John Boles, Elmer Brown, William Brown, William Padget, and Harrison Hess.

A little later I attended the first term of school ever taught in the present West Ward school building. I walked from my home in the country each day.

When I was 15 years old my father came to town for a while and kept the first bakery in town. It was on the north side of the square.

When the public square was being laid out I recall hearing my father tell mother when he came home, "Well, Fannie, I finally out generalled them and got the square larger. I told them the town would grow and we would need a larger square."

Elizabeth Kegley Foster is believed to be the first white child born in Clarke County. She is shown here on her 90th birthday.

Source: Osceola Centennial Issue...1851 to 1951, Osceola Sentinel, August 2, 1951, Section 1, p. 2.

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Last Revised August 31, 2010