Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Peregrine Foster

The Marietta Register, October 1, 1874

One of the Forty-Eight Who Landed in Marietta, Ohio, April 7, 1788

Peregrine Foster was the son of Hon. Jedediah Foster and Dorothy Dwight, of Brookfield, Massachusetts. He was descended in the sixth generation from Reginald Foster, founder of the family in this country. The descent is through the oldest son: 1st, Reginald Foster, first in America; 2d, Abraham, born  in 1622; 3d, Ephraim, born in 1657; 4th Ephraim, Sr., born in 1687; 5th, Jedediah, born in 1726; 6th, Peregrine, born in 1759.

Reginald Foster was descended from Sir Reginald Foster, made Baronet in 1461. He came to Ipswich, Massachusetts, from the West of England, in 1638, with his wife and seven children, four of them sons. One of his daughters married a Story, ancestor of Chief Justice Story.

On his mother's side, Peregrine Foster was descended from John Dwight, ancestor of all who rightfully bear that name in this country. The line of descent is: 1st, John Dwight, first in America, came in 1634 or 1635; 2d, Captain Timothy Dwight, son of John, born in 1629; 3d, Captain Henry Dwight, of Hatfield, Massachusetts, born in 1676; 4th Brigadier General Joseph Dwight, born in 1703; 5th, Dorothy Dwight, born in 1729, married Jedediah Foster in 1749.

John Dwight came from Dedham, England, in 1634 or 1635, and settled in Dedham, Massachusetts. It is said he brought with him a valuable estate, and was a wealthy farmer in Dedham. He was an eminently useful citizen and Christian in that town, and was one of the founders of the Church of Christ gathered there in 1638 for the first time.

President Dwight, of Yale, was one of his descendants. Peregrine Foster married, at Brookfield, July 10th, 1780, widow Polly Bradshaw, daughter of Ebenezer Parkman, of Westboro, Massachusetts. He was a Revolutionary soldier, and was present at the execution of Major Andre, October 2, 1780. He was then twenty-one years old. After the close of the war, he removed to Providence, Rhode Island, where he read and practiced law for a few years with his brother Theodore.

In 1786, Mr. Foster joined the Ohio Company, formed in Massachusetts, under the direction of General Rufus Putnam and General Tupper. At a meeting of the Directors of the Company, held at Bracket's tavern, in Boston, November 23, 1787, it was ordered that four surveyors be employed, under the direction of a superintendent, with twenty-two men to attend them, and to these should be added six boat builders, four house carpenters, one blacksmith, and nine common workmen - making in all forty-eight men - to proceed, in the employ of the Company, to the mouth of the Muskingum, to make a settlement on the Company's lands, and to remain in the employ of the Company until July 1. 

These persons were all subject to the orders of the superintendent, General Rufus Putnam. They were divided into two companies. Twenty-two assembled at Danvers, Massachusetts, early in December. These, under Major Haffield White, formed the advance party. Among them were the boat builders and mechanics. The surveyors and others of the Pioneers met at Hartford early in January 1788, and proceeded, under the charge of General Putnam, to join the advance party, whom they overtook at Simrell's ferry on the Youghiogheny, February 14, 1788.

Mr. Foster joined the second company. The passage over the Alleghenies at that season of the year was very perilous. An unusual amount of snow had fallen that winter. The obstacles in their path were numerous. At Strawsburg the roads became impassable for wagons, and they were obliged to construct sledges to transport their baggage and supplies over the mountains. They, however, arrived without serious lost at Simrell's ferry in February and there joined Major White's party, which had reached that point January 21.

Owing to the severity of the weather, but little progress had been made in the building of the boats which were to convey them from that point to the Muskingum. General Putnam's presence, however, infused new spirit into the Company, and the boats were completed and ready to descend the river by the 2d of April. The large boat was first called by the builders, "Adventure Galley," but was afterwards named the "mayflower." She was, according to Dr. Hildreth's account, "forty-five feet long and twelve wide; estimated burthen fifty tons. Her bow was raking or curved like a galley. She was strongly timbered and covered with deck roof. She was intended to run up stream as well as down, but was unwieldy, and only used a few times on voyages of this kind." Beside this boat there was a flatboat and also three canoes.

With these boats the pioneers, having taken on their stores, provisions, &c., embarked for the mouth of the Muskingum, which they reached April 7, 1788. The morning of April 7th was cloudy and rainy. The banks of the Muskingum were thickly grown with sycamore trees, whose branches, leaning over the river, obscured the outlet, and before they were aware of it, they had passed the upper point, where they intended to land, and were unable to stop, till a short distance below Fort Harmar. The Commander of the Fort sent soldiers and ropes by which they were brought back, and the boats landed about noon at the Point (Marietta) in the Muskingum, a little above its mouth.

Mr. Foster, being one of the surveyors, assisted in laying out the town, to which the name of Marietta was given in honor of the Queen of France.

In June 1788, he returned to his family in Providence, Rhode Island, intending to remove them to Ohio. He was not able to do this immediately, and while delayed, the Indian War broke out, and he did not on that account, go west until 1792. At that time, hearing of some massacres by the Indians in the neighborhood of Marietta, he went to Morgantown, Virginia, now in West Virginia, where he remained for four years, teaching school, and engaging in such other business as he could find. While in Virginia, he was chief Magistrate of his county, Associate Judge in the Court of Common Pleas, and several times Representative to the State Legislature.

July 14th, 1794, he writes from Virginia, "In consequence of a Commission from the Governor of Virginia, appointing me Magistrate for the county of Monongalia, I have now three appointments from the Governor and the General Assembly, not one of which is worth a penny, and as little honor as pay." After the close of the Indian War in 1795, he removed with his family to Belpre, Ohio, where a part of his land was located.

There he improved his farm and built a dwelling house on the banks of the Ohio, nearly opposite the mouth of Little Kanawha. He was one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Ohio, from September 1797, to march 1803, at which time the Territorial Courts were closed by the organization of Courts under the new State Constitution. His associates in that Court during that period were Gilbert Petit, Dudley Woodbridge, Daniel Loring, and Isaac Peirce.

Mr. Foster resided on his farm in Belpre until his death, which occurred August 17, 1804, at the age of 44.

In the year 1808, his widow married William Browning, Esq., a prominent farmer of Belpre, whose farm lay near that of Mr. Foster.

Mr. and Mrs. Browning both died in September 1823.

The children of Peregrine Foster were:

Polly Parkman, born 1781
Seraph Dwight, born 1782
Peregrine Pitt, born 1786
Betsey Marietta, born 1788
Frederick Augustus, born 1791
Theodore Sedgwick, born 1793

Polly Parkman Foster married deacon William Dana of Newport, Ohio. She died 1815, aged 31. She had six children.

Seraph Dwight Foster married John Breck of Boston, afterward of Caswell, Ohio. She died 1806. She left one child.

Peregrine Pitt Foster married Elizabeth Cushing, daughter of Col. Nathaniel Cushing of Belpre. He died February 1815, aged 28, leaving no children. She died at the age of 87, a widow for 49 years.

Betsey Marietta married Stephen Dana of Newport, Ohio, brother of Deacon William Dana, both of whom were sons of Capt. William Dana, of Belpre. She died April 9, 1870, aged 81, for 36 years a widow. They had nine children.

Frederick Augustus Foster married Sarah Arnold of Lancaster, Ohio. She died 1831. He married second wife Elizabeth Wilson of Lancaster. Mr. Frederick Foster is still living in Lancaster and is the only one of this family who survives. He has had nine children, only four of whom are living.

Theodore Sedgwick Foster married Jane Barclay. Died 1825, without children. Mr. Peregrine Foster is described as one "distinguished for uprightness and honor, for his energy and perseverance, and was of fine personal appearance and affable manners."

The above facts were obtained in part from Dr. Hildreth's Pioneer History, and from the Public Records of Washington County, also from the History of the Descendants of John Dwight of Dedham, Mass., by Benjamin Dwight and the Life of General Putnam.



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