THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY
GRANDMOTHER BROWN was born in Athens, Ohio, at ten o'clock in the
morning, on April 9, 1827. She was the third child of Ebenezer
Foster and Achsah Culver. They named the pretty baby "Maria Dean"
after her father's sister Maria, who had married John Nicholson Dean
and lived across the street.
"Tell me, Grandmother Brown," I began, drawing up my chair beside
her on the morning of the day when she entered on her hundredth
year, "how it was in Ohio when you were a little girl."
"It wasn't like this," she mused, gazing out of the window into
the Iowa sunshine. "I was born in an April shower. They used to say
that was why I cried so easily. But I was born into a happy home,
where there was little cause for crying. Two children were there
before me - Brother John, five years old, and Sister Libbie, who was
two. When I was three years old, Sister Kate came to join us. We
lived in a commodious house surrounded by gardens and orchards. Our
home occupied just one square block in the town of Athens. Oh, there
never was any place that looked to me so beautiful as that did in my
To get a clear picture of that early home one must remember that,
even little Maria first opened her observant blue eyes, she looked
out on a cultural environment that had been developed by her parents
and grandparents and their contemporaries in the short space of only
forty years. Scarce four decades had elapsed since Congress had
passed the famous Ordinance of 1787 under which the Government of
the Northwest Territory had been established. Before that, the
beautiful Hocking Valley where Maria was born had echoed to the
tread of hardly any feet save those of red men and wild beasts. To
be sure, French and British had passed that way, but only
None of Maria's forebears had been in that band of forty-eight
heroes of the Revolution whom General Rufus Putnam had landed, On
April 7, 1788, at the point on the Ohio River where not stands
Marietta. But her grandfather, Zadoc Foster, - a resident, like
Putnam, of Rutland, Massachusetts, - came to Marietta only eight
years later. In his boyhood he had known General Putnam, who had
dwelt in a house not far from the one built and occupied by Zadoc's
father, Lieutenant Ebenezer Foster. The families were friends. Both
houses are still standing. Both are substantial, dignified
structures of the type occupied by the leading citizens of New
England a century and a half ago.
Lieutenant Foster had come to Rutland in 1744. He was the third
Ebenezer in direct descent from the John Foster who had come to
Salem from England in the early part of the seventeenth century.
Grandmother Brown had a pretty vanity in the doings of more or less
mythical ancestors who lie back of that John and his beginnings in
the Old World. At least, she was likely to tell you, primly, some
day as she lifted her handsome white head from perusal of her Foster
Genealogy,* that her kin, the Forester family, were "the principal
chieftains in Northumberland and allied by marriage with all the
eminent northern families of England." She could tell you about the
part played by Foresters at the Battle of Hastings and at the Battle
of Bannockburn, an dhow one Sir John Foster saved the life of
Richard Lionheart at the Siege of Acre. Plenty of the name spawning
over into other lands. To Ireland, Jamaica, Nova Scotia, they
emigrated in large numbers. Along the coast of New England at
Dorchester, Salem, Scituate, Chelmsford, Andover, they settled
*The record of the posterity of Reginald Foster, an early
inhabitant of Ipswich, in New England, whose genealogy is traced
back to Anacher, Great Forester of Flanders, who died in 837 A.D.;
also the record of all other American Fosters. By Frederick Clifton
It was about a hundred years after John Foster had landed in
Salem that his great-grandson, Ebenezer, came with his parents to
Rutland. He was then eleven years old. When he was twenty-two, he
went on a military expedition sent by Massachusetts against Crown
Point. At the age of twenty-four, he married Hannah Parlin of
Concord. He had purchased, the year before, a tract of one hundred
acres of land in what was called Rutland West Wing, but is now known
as Oakham, and there, about 1766, he built his comfortable home. He
became prominent in local history and, according to the Foster
Genealogy, "held most of the offices within the gift of the town."
At the Lexington alarm in April 1775, he was one of the Minute Men
who sprang to arms. With a company of his fellow citizens he marched
toward the scene of the encounter, but he arrived too late to be of
service in the fight. However, we know that he was an active officer
in the militia. The record shows that he was commissioned on June 4,
1776, for the post of Adjutant of the Fourth Worcester County
Regiment of the Massachusetts Militia. His family respected that
connection sufficiently to have his title of lieutenant engraved on
his tombstone in the old churchyard at Oakham. Grandmother Brown's
patriotic soul thrilled at mention of his name.
To Rufus Putnam, his neighbor, distinguished honors had come
during the war. Though he was poor and self-taught, Washington
considered Putnam "the ablest engineer officer of the war, whether
American or Frenchman." To him was due the success of the first
great military operation of the Revolution, the defense of Boston.
The war over, Putnam purchased the large farm and attractive
dwelling house at Rutland. There he tilled his land, and, like his
neighbor, Ebenezer Foster, held various public offices.
"When I visited Rutland in 1911," said Grandmother Brown, "I
bought this picture of Putnam. It's a good face, but not very
handsome. How I'd like to have a similar picture of my
great-grandfather, Ebenezer Foster! I wonder if he wore his hair
long, tied back like that, and if he wore ruffled shirts. I fancy
that he did. My mother had an uncle - Uncle Rowley - who used to
come to see her when I was a child. He wore a ruffled shirt, and his
hair - was tied in a bag. When he got on his horse and rode away,
that hair kept whacking at the back of his neck. We children always
used to laugh, as we watched him ride away."
During the years following the war, Putnam's fertile mind was
busy. Two pressing problems confronted the victorious leaders of the
Revolution: how to pay the soldiers of the war, and how to settle up
The soldiers had been paid in continental currency or
certificates redeemable at the option of the colonial Congress. As
the Treasury was bankrupt, these certificates had little value.
Naturally, there was much dissatisfaction among war veterans, much
suffering among their families. These men had staked "their lives,
their fortunes, and their sacred honor" to gain independence for
their country. Life and honor were left them, but those did not
suffice, in the absence of fortune, to feed and clothe their
There was apprehension at this time lest some foreign power -
Great Britain, Spain, France - should colonize the West and become a
menace to the new nation that had been born of the Revolution.
Gradually the idea took possession if certain thoughtful minds that
the two problems might be solved together: the soldier's
certificates might be exchanged for lands in the Ohio country. Thus,
the new government might pay its debts to its defenders and at the
same time promote colonization of the Western lands by its own loyal
General Putnam endorsed the scheme. He even helped to circulate a
petition which officers of the Army presented to Congress, asking
for a grant of lands north and northwest of the Ohio River to
veterans of the army in redemption of the war certificates. He wrote
to Washington about it, and Washington labored with Congress to
honor the petition of his officers. But nothing happened until
General Putnam and his friend, General Benjamin Tupper, - the latter
just returned from surveying the Northwestern lands, - sat up all
one January night in 1786 in Putnam's Rutland home and drew up a
"Call" for a convention of veterans to form a company for the
purchase and colonization of those Ohio lands. Walker, the
historian,* draws a pretty picture of them sitting before a blazing
fire in the open fireplace of the house at Rutland, Hickory logs
steaming and sparks flying up the chimney, Putnam's sword and spurs
hanging, perhaps, on the wall.
*History of Athens County, Ohio, by
Charles M. Walker.
Three months later, the Ohio Company was organized at the "Bunch
of Grapes" tavern in Boston.
Numerous committees of Congress considered the plans presented by
the Ohio Company for purchase of the Western lands and for
government of the political bodies to be established there. But,
notwithstanding the powerful support of Washington, no progress was
made until July 6, 1787, when there came to the door of Congress a
master diplomat in the modest person of Dr. Manasseh Cutler of
Ipswich Hamlet, Massachusetts.
If General Putnam is honored as "the father of Ohio," surely Dr.
Cutler should be remembered as its godfather. What Washington and
Franklin were to the fate of the Thirteen Colonies, Putnam and
Cutler were, respectively, to the development of the Northwest
Territory. A lawyer, a minister, a physician, a statesman, a
scholar, a scientist, - indeed, after Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the
foremost scientist of the Western continent, - was Dr. Manasseh
Cutler. All these he was and, at the same time, a man of consummate
business ability and a master hand at diplomacy, a noble soul, a
genial man, whose quiet activities had incalculable influence in
shaping the destinies of our country. And with all his great dignity
and serious aims, what endearing simplicity and sweetness of nature
are revealed by his Journal,* are shown in the portrait of his
*Life, Journals and Correspondence of Reverend
Manasseh Cutler, LL.D., by William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins
In his Journal we see the careful steps by which Dr. Cutler, as
director and agent of the Ohio Company, secured both lands and laws
from Congress in accordance with his wise desires. How skillfully he
ingratiated himself with the representatives of Massachusetts and
Virginia and won their powerful endorsement of his plans! All in the
short space too of two and twenty days! Never was there a speedier
or more capable lobbyist than the good parson of Ipswich Hamlet. For
three and a half million dollars he obtained a grant of nearly five
million acres of land, one million and a half of which was for the
Ohio Company, the remainder for other purchasers. "The greatest
private contract ever made in America." noted Dr. Cutler with
pardonable pride. Under it provisions, - drawn up by Dr. Cutler, -
inhabitants of the Northwest Territory were guaranteed freedom from
slavery and involuntary servitude. In such a soil it was that
Grandmother Brown's life took root, a soil consecrated to the use of
Before the year was out, Dr. Cutler had organized the first
expedition to the lands of the Ohio Company. Under the direction of
General Putnam, a little fleet was built that winter at Sumrill's
Ferry, about thirty miles above Pittsburgh. Besides s large boat
called the Mayflower, there were also a flatboat and three log
canoes. Laden with the emigrants, their baggage, surveying
instruments, weapons, and effects," says Walker, "the little
flotilla glided down the Youghiogheny into the Monongahela, and
finally out upon the broad bosom of the Ohio." Spring was in the
air, and doubtless beauty brooded over wood and water. Five days
later, the emigrants landed in the vicinity of Fort Harmar, a
defense which had been built, two years before, as a protection
against the Indians, near the junction of the Ohio and the
It is a matter of pride to the descendants of those who came to
Marietta in the first days of the Northwest Territory's development
that those ancestors were of the best stock that New England
afforded. Among those early settlers were over sixty commissioned
officers of the Revolution, one of them the grandfather of the man
little Maria Foster was destined to marry. Said Washington: "No
colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices as
that which has just commenced at the Muskingum. . . I know many of
the settlers personally, and there never were men better calculated
to promote the welfare of such a community."
The work of surveying and tilling the lands began at once. With
great care and much good taste the engineers laid out their city of
Marietta, - named for the French queen, Marie Antoinette, -
preserving as public grounds the great Mounds left there by a
prehistoric race. The first settlers' houses were erected on "The
Point," which projected far out into the area where the Ohio and the
Muskingum mingled their waters. General Putnam advised building, as
protection against the Indians, a strong defense three quarters of a
mile from the Point. About forty acres of ground were accordingly
enclosed in a stockade. The outer walls of this defense - Campus
Martius, as they called it - were made of two-story log housed
joined together and opening into an inner court. A heavy picket
fence was erected around the log-house wall, and outside that was
another high fence of brush. "Suitable plats for gardens," says
Hildreth*, "were laid out between the garrison and the river. The
appearance from without was grand and imposing, at a little distance
resembling one of the military palaces or castles of the feudal
*Pioneer History of the Ohio Valley
and the Early Settlement of the Northwest Territory, by S. P.
A treaty with the Indians was concluded in January 1789. In the
spring, settlements were established twelve miles south of Marietta
on the Ohio at Belpre, and on the Muskingum at Waterfore, at Wolf
Creek mills, and at Big Bottom. Numbers of women soon joined the
settlers, though it took high courage to face not only the common
dangers, but also the perils of childbirth, unaided, in the
wilderness. For a time developments went forward promisingly, and
hopes were high, but soon famine, pestilence, and Indian hostility
put the courage of the colonists to the test.
For nearly two years the Indians kept the treaty of peace. Then,
suddenly, in the early days of 1791, exasperated by attacks of the
frontier populations of Virginia and Kentucky, the Indians included
in their vengeance the settlement of the Ohio Company at Big Bottom.
Five years of horror followed. The Indians were on the warpath
continually, and the settlers lived in a stage of siege. All the
garrisons were under the strictest military discipline. Every half
hour in the night the watchword was demanded. No man tilled his
field, or gathered his crop, or milked his cow, except with an armed
sentry standing guard. By this watchfulness the settlements were
preserved, and yet, in the five years of Indian warfare, what
unspeakable horrors were perpetrated without those garrison walls,
what fear and sorrow endured within them!
"Oh, that was a terrible time," said Grandmother, shaking her
head solemnly. "We often heard old settlers talk about it when we
Two armies were routed by the Indians. But, in 1794, General
Anthony Wayne - "Mad Anthony," they called him - defeated the
Indians utterly. He burned their villages, destroyed their crops,
laid waste their whole country. They sued for peace. At Greenville,
on August 3, 1795, the tomahawk was definitely buried. There the Red
Man gave up his ancient hunting grounds, surrendered the graves of
his forefathers. The white man's rule in the northwest Territory was
never again seriously disputed.
When General Putnam issued, in 1786, his call to veterans of the
war and others interested in the purchase of Ohio lands, his
neighbors, the Fosters of Oakham, showed no interest n the matter,
so far as we know. Lieutenant Foster, head of the family, might be
called a war veteran, but he seems to have been well placed in life
and, as the father of twelve children, had, doubtless, plenty to
keep him tied to the spot where he was. Zadoc, his fifth child, then
nineteen years old, was possibly thinking more, just then, of how to
ingratiate himself with clever little Sally Porter, daughter of Dr.
Samuel Porter of Hubbardstown, who had come to Rutland to teach,
than he was of the colonization of the Northwest Territory. He was
not old enough himself to have been a veteran of the war. It was not
until ten years later that looking for a homestead he migrated to
"Tell me, Grandmother Brown, didn't you ever hear any of your
people, when you were a little girl, talk about their life in
Massachusetts?" I asked her. "Do you know how your grandparents
happened to go West?"
She mused a while, and then she said: "My Grandma Foster - she
that was Sally Porter - used to tell me that, when she went to
Rutland to teach, there was no schoolhouse, and she was given a room
in the Foster house for a schoolroom. This house is now owned and
occupied - or was in 1911 when I went to see it - by descendants of
my great-grandfather, who had built it. It has always remained in
the family. I said to the lady then living there, 'I want to see the
room where my grandmother taught school.' 'It must have been the
room where Lieutenant Foster held court,' she said, and showed it to
me. The house is a good old-fashioned New England structure with one
big chimney in the centre. About it are eight large rooms, with a
fireplace in each one. 'I want a drink from the same fountain that
my grandfather drank from,' said I. 'It is the same water,' said our
hostess, as she brought me a glass of it, 'but we've had it piped
into the house.'
"A very large old elm stands in front. It measured fifteen feet
around the bottom. Our hostess said that she understood it had been
there since my great-grandfather's time. He and General Putnam were
walking together through the timber, one day, and notice two little
elms. 'Let's take them up and plant them in front of our houses,'
"Grandma told me that Lieutenant Foster said to her, when she
came there to teach: 'Sally, we haven't any money in this district.
You'll have to take one of my boys as pay for your teaching.' And
she said 'I took them both, the money and the boy.' Zadoc was
twenty-two years old and she was twenty-one. They were married on
January 19, 1789. After that, they moved to Sudbury County, Vermont,
and lived there several years. I suppose they were like many
enterprising young people - they wanted to strike out and do
something for themselves. Then, to leave Vermont and go to Ohio, as
they did later, was doing just as many others were doing at the
time. And I've no doubt that, having known General Putnam, my
grandfather was somewhat interested in going to Marietta, where the
general continued to live until his death."
Not much more about her grandparents' life in Vermont or of their
coming to the Northwest Territory did Grandmother Brown know, but in
Walker's History it is recorded that they came, "like many others of
that time, with an ox team as far as Olean Point, on the Allegheny
River, and thence proceeded by raft down the Ohio to Marietta, in
the autumn of 1796." Remaining that winter in the stockade, Zadoc
Foster made a settlement in the spring at Belpre. He is said to have
gone ahead of his family, making a little clearing and building a
Studying the history of the times, I wonder if Zadoc Foster was
not one of the multitude who steamed westward from the barren hills
of New England as soon as news of General Anthony Wayne's decisive
victory over the Indians began to reach them. "During the year
1796," says Walker "nearly one thousand flatboars, or 'broadhorns,'
as they were then called, passed Marietta laden with emigrants on
their way to more attractive regions of southwestern Ohio." Ohio was
reputed to be a land flowing with milk and honey, and to Zadoc
Foster, trying to farm the rocky soil of Vermont, tales of its
fertility must have sounded alluring. Freed from the fear of
savages, inspired by "the siren song of peace and of farming," he
joined the living column moving westward.
In making a home for his family in the Belpre settlement, Zadoc
Foster had, undoubtedly, full scope for any enterprise and industry
of which he was possessed. To make a clearing in the forest, and to
rear on it a comfortable cabin was real man's work, even though the
logs were piled up like children's cob houses and held together by
wooden pins instead of nails, even though no tools were necessary in
the construction, except an axe, an auger, and perhaps a cross-cut
saw. Rude, indeed, were those first log cabins with their puncheon
floors, wooden shutters, leather latchstrings, stone chimneys, clay
hearthstones. Primitive was the homemade furniture within them. We
catch a glimpse of a table split from a large log, a bedstead made
of poles interlaced with bearskins, a spinning wheel in the corner,
a rifle hung in forked cleats over the door with powder horn beside
it, three-legged stools, splint-bottomed chairs, cast-iron spiders,
long-handled frying pans, a movable Dutch oven.
In some such home lived the Zadoc Fosters, I've no doubt, when
they first came to Belpre. Here were met the needs of the children
born to them before they moved to Athens in 1809.
"Pa's brothers and sisters were Sally, Ira, Hull, Issa, Maria,
Melissa, and Samuel," said Grandmother. "Most of them I knew during
my childhood in Athens. When I remember what kind of woman presided
over this household, my dear Grandma Foster, and when I recall all
the merry quips of Uncle Hull and Aunt Sally and Aunt Maria and Aunt
Melissa, I am sure that that simple cabin must have been a very
happy home. But I am sure too that Grandma Foster must have had her
hands full. In those pioneer times all sorts of accidents were
likely to happen to one's children, besides the kind of thing that
may befall any baby to-day. Think what happened to Aunt Sally! She
fell into the open fire when she was a child and burned the side of
her face so that one nostril was drawn down."
One can easily believe that all of Grandma Foster's daughters,
from Aunt Sally down, were early trained to industry. The family had
to grow and cook its own food, grow and fashion the material for its
own garments. We are told that, at Marietta, silkworms were raised
by "the females" in General Putnam's family and the cocoons reeled
and spun into strong sewing thread. We know that at Belpre crops of
flax, cotton, and hemp were raised.
The Fosters arrived in Belpre at a time of great activity in the
settlement. Released by the treaty of peace with the Indians in 1795
from their five years' imprisonment in garrisons, the white settlers
began to move energetically over the face of the land, chopping down
timber, erecting houses, building roads and bridges, breeding stock,
and setting out orchards. Fruit trees in the virgin soil of the Ohio
bottoms grew with astonishing rapidity. It was not long before
Belpre was noted as the fairest spot between Pittsburgh and
Cincinnati. Situated on beautiful meadows set high in a lovely curve
over the Ohio River, it had a commanding position.
Just opposite Belpre, an island in the river had been purchased,
in 1798, by a rich and eccentric Irish nobleman named Harman
Blennerhassett, who became famous in our history. In that romantic
situation he had laid out a great estate - a spacious mansion
surrounded by lawns and gardens, by stables, dairies, and hothouses.
The tragic story of the Blennerhassets is known to all the world -
how, fresh from his duel with Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr tarried
at their island home on his way down the valleys of the Ohio and the
Mississippi, and how he interested them in his scheme to establish a
colony of wealthy individuals in Louisiana, a scheme that was later
declared to be treasonable as making a project to separate the
people of the West from those of the Atlantic States. When Burr was
arrested, the Blennerhassetts became involved in his fall. Their
lovely home was ruthlessly destroyed by the Ohio militia. But during
the eight years that the Blennerhassetts - husband, wife, and two
children - dwelt there they endeared themselves to all their
neighbors, high and low. Mr. Blennerhassett was a man of varied
intellectual interests and artistic gifts, Mrs. Blennerhassett a
woman of engaging qualities of person, mind, and heart. Socially
inclined, hospitable and kind, they made welcome at their home all
who shared their tastes. They themselves went often to visit friends
in Marietta and Belpre. Mrs. Blennerhassett is described by Hildreth
as dashing along forest paths in a riding dress of scarlet
broadcloth, accompanied by a favorite black servant.
"Oh, Uncle Hull remembered seeing her in that red habit!"
exclaimed Grandmother Brown. "I recall now hearing him tell about
it. He was only a little boy when he lived in Belpre, but he had a
vivid recollection of seeing Madame Blennerhassett riding through
the woods in a red dress on a fine horse."
Whether the Fosters ever partook of the hospitality of the
Blennerhassetts is not now known, but it is probable that the
families met at the white house of Aaron Waldo Putnam, the Fosters
having been friendly with the Putnams, according to Grandmother
Brown's traditions. Aaron Waldo was a grandson of General Israel
Putnam, whom our school histories used to extol for having left his
oxen standing in the field in his haste to enlist in the Revolution.
He built himself a fine new house at Belpre. Painted white and
surrounded by orchards, it was a conspicuous object to travelers on
the Ohio. The upper story was fitted up for a ballroom, and Madame
Blennerhassett was said to have led in some of the dances there.
From the earliest days of the Northwest Territory, dancing had
been a favorite pastime of the young people. Even in the dark days
of the Indian War, it is related that parties of youths and maidens
used to come down the river in barges or large rowboats from Fort
Harmar and from Campus Martius to dance with their young friends at
Belpre. I have no doubt that the Fosters did their share of the
dancing. "I remember," said Grandmother Brown, "that Grandma Foster
told me she was fond of dancing in her youth, but once, when there
were balls three times hand running in one week, she thought it time
Zadoc erected a gristmill - very essential to the life of the
community - on the Little Hocking River, from which he supplied, in
1805, the Southern expedition of Burr and Blennerhassett with corn
meal. A number of young men from Belpre enlisted in the expedition.
Contracts were made for the building of fifteen large bateaux on the
Muskingum River and for purchase of bacon, pork, flour, whiskey, and
so forth. The tragedy of that expedition has nothing to do with the
fortunes of the Foster family, but doubtless they were stirred by
it. The young men from Belpre returned in the course of the spring,
and they had adventurous tales to relate that were passed glibly
from tongue to tongue.
Like most of the first settlers of the Northwest Territory, the
Fosters were staunch Federalists, followers of George Washington and
Alexander Hamilton. As time passed, and people from Virginia and
Kentucky crossed the Ohio and joined in the settlement of the
Northwest Territory, the political faith of Thomas Jefferson gained
adherents. Lively discussions between Federalists and Democrats were
heard at social gatherings in the river settlements.
The shadow of coming conflicts fell, even in those early days,
upon the people of Belpre. Few among them believed in the
institution of slavery, but to their shores came often the
slaveholders of the states across the river. It is said that one
reason Mr. Blennerhassett preferred an island in the river for his
countryseat to land along shore was that "its location gave him the
privilege of holding colored servants as his own property, which he
could not do in the Northwest Territory." At the constitutional
convention held in Chillicothe in 1802 there was, despite the clause
against slavery which Dr. Manasseh Cutler considered the crown of
his Ordinance of 1787, a determined effort on the part of the
slavery interests to set that aside. But for the efforts of Dr.
Cutler's son, Judge Ephraim Cutler, they would have been successful.
In the meantime, at Belpre, runaway slaves were often seen.
"I fancy that it was the sight in his boyhood of those poor
fugitives that fixed in the mind of my father the intense sympathy
for them which he displayed in later years," said Grandmother Brown.
Another moot question on which the Foster mind seemed made up at
that early period was the liquor question. Strong drink flowed
freely through the early settlements of Ohio. The luscious peaches
grown in the orchards of Belpre made a fine alcoholic beverage. It
was deservedly popular; even clergymen had it for "refreshment" at
their conventions. But little Grandma Foster probably entertained
prejudice against it, for her sons were known to be teetotalers.
Said Grandmother Brown, "My mother told me that when my father used
to deal out whiskey to his hired men, as was the custom of those
days, he never touched a drop himself. Uncle Hull was the same way.
So those boys must have had proper training when they were young."
In 1809, when Grandmother Brown's father, Eben, was eleven years
old, Zadoc Foster brought his family to Athens. There he conducted a
tavern until he died, five years later, of the "cold plague." "That
was probably the disease which we now know as 'grippe,'" explained
Grandmother Brown. "It raged with terrible violence, and many died."
Left a widow with a large family of children, Mrs. Sally Foster
continued to keep the tavern a few years after her husband's death.
Then she went back to vocation of her youth and became a
school-teacher once more, "in which occupation," says Walker, "she
was eminently useful and beloved during the remainder of her life."
"With his own hands," Grandmother told me, "my father built a
house for his mother to live in. There it was she opened the first
'select school' for young children that was known in Athens."
Why Zadic Foster and his wife decided, after a dozen years at
Belpre, to move to Athens is not now known. Possibly because other
enterprising people were doing it. Athens was coming to be a trading
point for furs and wild meats.
One of the "principles" dearest to the heart of Dr. Cutler was
that of educational opportunity. In dealing with Congress, he had
insisted that, in the Ohio Company's purchase of land, there should
be an appropriation of land for the endowment of a university. In
1804, Ohio University was, accordingly, established by act of
legislature. Two years later, a two-story brick building,
twenty-four feet by thirty, was erected as the first home of that
"I remember that old academy at Athens," said Grandmother Brown.
"'T wasn't torn down till after I was born."
But, perhaps, in moving to Athens, the Zadoe Fosters were drawn
chiefly by ties of kinship rather than by desire for gain or
learning. Sally's sister, Mary Porter, had arrived in the Northwest
Territory in 1802, with her husband, Dr. Leonard Jewett, a capable
physician. After a brief period in Belpre, they had settled in
"I suppose Grandma Foster may have been homesick sometimes,"
remarked Grandmother Brown. "I never heard her say anything about
it. I don't believe she ever went back to Massachusetts. Perhaps she
moved to Athens to be near her sister. She had a brother - Uncle
Porter - who lived on a farm near there too. I remember his visiting
When the Foster family first came from Belpre to Athens, travel
through the woods was by horse path. The population of Athens was
about 150. People with good English and Irish names were living
there in rude log cabins. Just previous to the coming of the Foster
family to Athens, five brick buildings had been erected. There were,
besides two residences, a brick schoolhouse, a brick tavern, and the
brick academy mentioned above, which was, for ten years, the only
building that Ohio University had. Perhaps that was why Zadoc's
enterprising son, Eben, began to make brick as soon as he was old
enough to seek for way to getting on in the world.
But, though this so-called "town" showed, as yet, little evidence
of architectural eminence, it had certain natural advantages that
made it attractive from the first. it was on elevated ground. Round
it the Hocking River formed a graceful bend. The prospect over
fields modest dooryards was delightful beyond description. By 1827,
when Maria Foster first beheld it, Athens, was, indeed, a pretty
village worthy of the lovely valley in which it nestled. But to it
still clung some flavor of the wilderness.
"I remember," said Grandmother Brown, "that when I was a little
girl deer meat was so plentiful that we thought nothing of having
venison. That was all wrong. There was plenty of food for us, and
the deer too."
Athens's material growth had, undoubtedly, been encouraged by the
brick making of her father and his brother-in-law, "Uncle Dean."
Foster's bricks may be seen yet in some of the Athens pavements, and
Dean's have a place in the old college walls. In 1816, a new college
building had been erected. In 1822, a complete faculty had been
assembled. About the time Maria was twelve years old, Ohio
University came under the efficient administration of that Reverend
William H. McGuffey whose admirable Fifth Reader is among our
pedagogical classics. By the time she was of an age to notice
college students, the University had entered on one of its most
flourishing periods and had nearly 250 students. It has now 2500.
If Eben Foster and his brothers had dreamed, perhaps, that in
coming to Athens they were getting nearer to a university education
than they had been at Belpre, their dreams were probably disturbed
by the death of their father. The question of bread and butter was
the one that undoubtedly pressed them for solution in their early
manhood. Just as their father had done at Belpre, they, at Athens,
turned instinctively to supplying the essential needs of the
community, Hull to making shoes, Eben to manufacturing bricks, while
their patient, precise, dainty little mother attended in the
background to the intellectual needs and social conduct of Athens's
youngest set. All were useful and successful citizens, much beloved
and respected by the community.
By the time his daughter Maria was born, Eben Foster, twenty-nine
years old, had reason to feel proud of the domain he had created for
himself. His home was one of the most comfortable and pretentious in
the thriving village. And the town records for that year and the
previous one showed his name among the town officers: Eben Foster,
"My father made steady progress all his life," said Grandmother
Brown proudly. "Indeed, he prospered amazingly. When he died at the
age of 33, he was counted among the wealthy men of Athens. No other
little girls had a home a whole block square. Everyone thought well
"A friend thought that Eben ought to have a wife, so he came to
Grandma Foster's home one night and said to my father, 'Why don't
you get married, Eben?' 'I can't find time to ask my girl,' was the
answer. The friend said, 'Here, Eben, you go right off and speak to
her about it now.' Eben was shelling corn at the time, shelling it
into a big basket hung over the end of a spout. Suddenly he
exclaimed, 'All right, Nick, I 'all do it!' Up he jumped, seized his
cap, and started off. 'Aren't you going to change your clothes?'
called Nick. 'No, if she doesn't like me this way, she wouldn't like
me at all,' answered Eben. So he struck out toward his girl's home,
which was about a mile from there. 'I looked out and watched him in
the moonlight,' his friend told me. 'He went round the point of the
hill on the run.' And so Eben Foster told Achsah Culver, that
moonlight night, how he happened to come in his working clothes and
what he wanted of her. They fixed it up; and that's how I happen to
be here now, you see."