Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ephraim Foster

The Marietta Register (Semi-Weekly), September 6, 1887

Editor Register: In a former paper, having mentioned the name of Ephraim Foster, it has been suggested that any information, additional to what I have given, would be of interest, I submit the following. The date of his birth is not certainly known, but, from what information I have I will place it in the year 1741. I think it probable that his native state was Massachusetts. That his ancestors were English, is indicated by the name; but at what time they came to this country is not known. At the commencement of the war of the Revolution, it appears he was living in Hillsboro county, New Hampshire; though he subsequently lived in Vermont, near Battleboro.

By the aid and through the kindness of Mr. Thomas R. Sheppard and General Coit, of Washington, I have obtained the following information from the records in the Pension Office, to-wit: “Ephriam Foster enlisted at New Ipswick, Hillsborough county, N. H., February 1st, 1777, for three years, in Capt. Fairwell’s Co. of the 1st N. H. Regiment, commanded by Col. Joseph Cilley. In consequence of being overheated at the battle of Monmouth, N. J., June 28th, 1778, (which is uniformly represented as an excessively warm day,) he was sick, from which he did not recover; and in November, 1778, his friends sent a horse for him to ride home, which he did after procuring a furlough from General Poor, commanding the brigade. He continued so unwell that he was unable to rejoin his regiment before his term of service expired. In July, 1820, (this was the year I suppose he received a pension) he was living in Fearing, Washington county, Ohio, and stated his age as being 71.” I think this statement in regard to his age an error. From the best information I have I think it should be 79 instead of 71; which would show that he was 82 years old in 1823, when he died. Mr. Sheppard says, “There is but one Ephraim Foster on the roll of Revolutionary pensions.”

I don’t know certainly what year the pension act for the relief of Revolutionary soldiers was passed; but it came too late to relieve many worthy men who had served well in the war and who had received but little compensation. Commodore Whipple died in 1819 and Gen’l St. Clair, I believe, in 1818, and I have not understood that either of them ever received a pension from Congress, though they were both in indigent circumstances in their old age. It is true, however, in regard to St. Clair, that the Legislature of Pennsylvania, in consideration of his poverty and service he had rendered in the Revolution, voted him a generous yearly payment for some time previous to his death. It may have been that this generous act of the Pennsylvania Legislature shamed Congress into the enactment of the pension law, which, I think, could have been and should have been passed years before it was.

In regard to the battle of Monmouth, he (Mr. Foster) said the heat was almost intolerable; and, as the battle raged through the whole day they suffered greatly with thirst; and some of the men, when they came to where they could get water, laid down to drink, in their overheated state, and never rose again. That was a day when Washington showed the soldier as much as in any day during the war.

Joining the New Hampshire regiment must have been his second enlistment; for he was one of the men who went with Arnold on his expedition to Canada. He relates that many of the men of his regiment were sick with small pox and malignant typhus fever, he having the latter disease himself, and recovered as by a miracle. The men all endured great hardships and suffering on their march.

Some time after the conclusion of the war, he moved from Vermont to the vicinity of Troy, in the State of New York. In the year 1800 or 1801 he came to Marietta and bought the lot on the north corner of Third and Montgomery streets, where he lived for a time, and then moved to land on Mill creek, a mile North-east of town. Commodore Whipple lived at the mouth of Mill creek, so that he and the Commodore were neighbors, and they had frequent opportunities of seeing each other and relating incidents of the war. The Commodore, like all sailors, was fond, in his old age, of telling of his exploits; or as some would say, telling “yarns.” Many a time would he come to my father’s tavern, which was kept on Greene street, and entertain his friends with tales of what he had passed through on the ocean during the Revolution.

Commodore Whipple died when I was but one year old, and I have no remembrance of him, or knowledge, except what I have received from others. There is one story he used to tell, which I heard repeated years after his death, and which shows that besides courage he possessed also shrewdness and wit. At one time, somewhere on the Atlantic, he was overtaken by an armed vessel of the enemy, much larger than his own, and one with which it would have been folly for him to engage in combat. He was hailed with a demand to surrender, when he struck his colors and bore down toward his antagonist, apparently with the intention of yielding to their demands. Armed vessels need to have (and I suppose they do yet, if not laid aside for some new invention) stoppers for the muzzles of their guns, called tompions; or, as the sailors would say, Tompkins. About the first thing seen done, when two ships are about to engage in battle, is the removal of the “Tompkins.” The Commodore managed to bring his vessel across the stern of the large ship, and when he got his guns to bear on her steering apparatus, said he gave an order to “let drive, Tompkins and all!” This crippled the large ship so that she was unmanageable, and not being in range of her guns, he made his escape without injury. Pardon our digression.

His Family.

The family of Ephraim Foster consisted of himself, wife, and five children; two sons and three daughters. Ephraim Foster, Jr., moved away at an early date and his history is not known. Leonard Foster lived on the farm with his father and died with the epidemic fever in 1822, leaving a widow with five children, the oldest only 14 years old. She lived a widow during the remainder of life, and died when she was over eighty years of age. Hannah Foster married William Colby, by whom she had five children, three daughters and two sons. Demie Foster died young – and unmarried. Sarah Foster married Alexander Hill and had nine children, seven sons and two daughters. One daughter and one son died in childhood.

His Character and Habits.
He was a man of plain manners and temperate habits; not ostentatious, not covetous nor given to avaricious scheming to obtain wealth. He seemed to possess the sentiment of him who said, “Give me neither poverty nor riches,” and a belief that a competence is the most conducive to a man’s happiness in this life. Besides an ardent love of liberty, he possessed an integrity that could not be shaken by the allurements of money. A man who suffered destitution with Washington in the darkest days of the Revolution,; when gold was freely offered by British emissaries, as an inducement for soldiers to abandon the cause of liberty, would not, we judge, be influenced by a bribe under any circumstances.

His Grandchildren.
Of Leonard Foster’s family there is but one living, Charles Foster, who is now eighty years of age. Of Hannah Foster’s daughters, Lucy married Isaac Monckton, of Watertown. She died recently at the age, I think, of eighty-four or five. Sarah married Jas. W. Stenson, and after his death, John Moore, of Athens county, and died some years ago at the age of seventy-two. She was the mother of Mrs. Dr. Bean of this place, and the grandmother of Mrs. Capt. S. Davis and Mrs. Bastable Evely. Parmela married first, Joseph Devol, of Waterford, and after his death Mr. ____ Roland. She is now living a widow in Newport Tp., aged eighty-one. Of Sarah Foster Hill’s children, only four are living. Of the children of Mrs. Lucy Colby Monckton, Enoch is in Texas, Dr. George Monckton died in California not long since. Mrs. Mina Monckton McNiel, wife of the late Dr. McNiel, lives at the old homestead in Watertown, and I believe draws a pension, for service rendered by her husband in the late war. The grandchildren of Mrs. Sarah Foster Hill, and great-grandchildren of Ephraim Foster, who served in the late war, were Wallace and Alexander Hill, sons of John Hill, Ephraim Hill, son of Daniel Y. Hill, Van B., Alexander H., John and Joseph S. Bukey, sons of Eliza Hill Bukey, and Spencer L. Bukey, Frank W. Hill, son of Hiram A. Hill, born in 1847.

Wallace Hill was Lieutenant in Co. B., 18th Regiment O. V. M., for three months service. Alexander H. Bukey was private in the same company. Subsequently Wallace Hill was made Lieutenant in Co. C., 1st West Va. Light Artillery. Capt. Frank Buell was commander of this company and was killed at the battle of Freeman’s Ford, Aug. 22, 1862. Wallace Hill succeeded him as Captain of the company, and so continued during the war. This company was engaged in the following battles and skirmishes: Battle of Crosskeys, June 8, 1862; Freeman’s Ford, Aug. 22, 1862; Sulphur Springs, Aug. 24, 1862; Bull Run, Aug. 29 and 30, Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863; Gettysburg, July 2 and 3. It was in the skirmish at Strasburg, June 1st, 1862; Woodstock, June 24; Tombrook same date; Mt. Jackson, June 3d; Luray, July 14th; Waterloo, Aug. 25, Leesburg, Sept. 18; Catlett’s Station, Sept. 23d; Mitchel’s Ford, Oct. 15, 1863.

Alexander H. Bukey was line sergeant of this company. Frank H. Hill was appointed 3d Sergeant in Co. A, 148th Regiment Ohio National Guards; Samuel S. Knowles, Captain, and T. W. Moore, Colonel. On the 23d day of July, 1864, was appointed Commissary Sergeant. Ephraim Hill served three months in Co. A, 87th O. V. I., was taken prisoner and exchanged. Subsequently served in Co. K, 2d Ohio Heavy Artillery, and died at Knoxville, Tenn., April 15th, 1865. Alexander Hill served in same Co.

Van H. Bukey enlisted in the 11th West Va. Infantry, Oct. 16, 1861. Was commissioned 1st Lieutenant, Feb. 1862; Captain, Aug. 1862; Major, March 1863; Lieutenant Colonel, Aug. 1862. Col. Frost having been killed, he succeeded him as Colonel, Nov. 1864. Made Brig. General by brevet, May 1865. He was with Gen. Crook in the raid through Southwest Va. Was in the battles of Cloyd Mountain and New River Bridge. Joining Gen. Hunter’s command, was in the skirmish at Lexington and the battle of Lynchburg. At the battle of Snicker’s Ferry Col. Frost was killed, and taking command of the regiment, his horse was killed under him, June 1864. He was subsequently in the following engagements: At Berryville, Opequan, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek.

John Bukey enlisted in Co. D, 11th West Va. Infantry, May 12, 1862. Appointed Sergeant Aug. 1863. Orderly Oct. 1854. Commissioned 2d Lieutenant Nov. 1814; 1st Lieutenant Jan. 1865. He was in all the engagements with Van H. Bukey. He was also with Gen. Grant in the Spring of 1865, in the battles of Hatcher’s Run and Petersburg; and was at Appomattox C. H. at the time of Lee’s surrender, April 1865.

Joseph S. Bukey enlisted in the same regiment as musician; was made Drum Major in 11864, discharged in 1865. In 1866 enlisted in Co. A, 1st U. S. Dragoons, and served his term on the Pacific coast. After about a year, he again enlisted in the 22d U. S. infantry, and was made hospital steward at Fort Hall, Idaho. From this place he was transferred to the port of Sitka, Alaska, where he was accidently drowned from a sail boat, May 12, 1872.

Spencer P. Moore, brother of Mrs. Dr. Bean, served in the 92d O. V. I. Enoch Moncton, and a son of Wm. Colby, Jr., of Belmont Co., great grandsons, also served in the war, but the number of their regiments is not known.

Ephraim Foster was buried in the Mound Cemetery in 1823, southeast of the mound and about midway between the circular parapet and the street, and near the burial lot of J. W. L. Brown.

Hiram A. Hill
July 27th, 1887

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