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Early History of Fosterburg, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

In 1819, Oliver Foster, a native of New Hampshire and veteran of the War of 1812, and his wife, Hannah Eldred Foster, came to Madison County and settled for a few years in Upper Alton. Foster and his family moved in 1825 to property he received from the government on Smooth Prairie, one mile north of what would become Fosterburg. He was a skilled mechanic and erected what was later designated as the Foster tavern, the finest residence in the township. The tavern was located on the Springfield Road (Fosterburg Road), which was the regular stage route from Alton to Springfield. It soon became a popular stopping place for travelers and was used as a relay station where new teams of horses were procured for the continued journey to Springfield. Usually the stage arrived in the evening, remaining over night and resuming the journey the next morning. Many prominent people, including Abraham Lincoln, took advantage of the accommodation offered by the tavern. After the railroad came through the area, the tavern was discontinued. The children of Oliver Foster included: Emira Freeman Foster (1807-1851); Oliver Perry Foster (1813-1897); Alonzo Foster (1816-1901); James Monroe Foster (1818-1893); Eldred J. Foster (1821-1851); Rosaviva Foster (1825-1911); Lenora Foster (1826-1851); and Micah Foster (1830-1910). Oliver Foster died March 1, 1855. His wife, Hannah, died in 1866. They are buried in the Fosterburg Cemetery.

The village of Fosterburg was platted by Oliver P. and Lucinda Foster, son of Oliver Foster Sr., and was recorded October 12, 1857. The original town included 4 blocks. The village was first called “Foster,” after his father, but when application for a post office was made in 1858, it was found that there was another post office by that name, so “burg” was added. Another son of Oliver Foster, Alonzo, moved to the eastern part of the county, and in 1860 laid out the town of New Douglas.

Among other early settlers of Fosterburg were William E. Hill, Joseph Sherfy, William Dillon, John D. Dillon, George Wood, Joshua Wood, John Young, Alexander Hart, James Drenman, William Crowder, Mark Crowder, William England, Samuel Wilson, David Hill, Asa Brooks, Ransom Chandler (who erected the first house in Fosterburg), Thomas Eaton, the Titchenal family, and James Bevill. Martin Chandler, father of Ransom Chandler, obtained a government patent on land in Foster Township. He, with his son, Ransom, operated one of the first mills in Foster Township.


Early Fosterburg Businesses

C. F. Lobbig opened the first store, and also served as the first postmaster. The first post office was located at the Foster Inn. Free rural delivery began in 1896.

Jacob Hoff, John Ost, and Nicholas Ost operated blacksmith shops.

Jacob Luft owned a shoe making shop.

Ramers Brothers and John G. Gregory owned saloons.
Pfister Feed and Saloon, 1898
The Pfister Feed Store and Saloon was constructed in about 1883, and was ran by John Oldenettle and Louis Pfister. It was located in Fosterburg, on the northwest corner of Fosterburg Road and Main Street. The Pfister building was 2-story, and had a tin roof. The second floor was used as a hall. The hall over the store was the scene of many gatherings. There were lodge meetings, social gatherings such as dances and roller skating, and political activities. The Fosterburg Band was organized and held its rehearsals in the hall. In 1908, when Fosterburg became “dry territory,” the saloon part of the business was forced to close. This angered the owner, who remarked that the town “could find another place for its meetings.” The old G. A. R. took up the matter, and Memorial Hall was constructed as a community meeting place. After the death of Oldenettle and Pfister, Van Titchenal took over the store and built up a goodPfister  Saloon, 1898 business. He sold out to Ralph Stahl, who conducted a store there under the management of John Snyder. In 1933 the building was remodeled, and Stahl removed the top floor of the building and added a concrete porch across the entire front of the building. Stahl operated four stores – Fosterburg, Moro, Bunker Hill, and Bethalto. His son, Alvin, later took over the business. By 1944, the Stahl’s operated only the Fosterburg store. The Stahls built a 5-room bungalow home on the west side of the store building.  In 1948 the building was destroyed by a tornado. It was re-built and opened for business later that year. In 1949 it was reported that the store’s telephone – the only telephone available to the community after the tornado – was out of order due to an ice store. The store no longer exists, and the building has been torn down.

 

Fosterburg Cemetery
Fosterburg Cemetery, located just north of the town, was originally a private burying ground. John C. Young and Thomas Eaton each donated a fraction of an acre, after which it was used by the public until 1873, when an association was organized and a charter obtained under general law. The association purchased more land, and made considerable improvements.

Fosterburg Churches
Three churches were erected in Fosterburg – the German Presbyterian (1858); the German Baptist (1865); and the German Methodist (1864).

Schoolhouse
The schoolhouse was a brick structure, one-story high, with a frame addition. In 1882 it employed two teachers.


Fosterburg Band, 1905
Fosterburg Band
The Fosterburg Band was organized in 1892. Charter members included: Charles Harris, Edwin Rinker, Charles Flackus, Otto Besser, Peter Knecht, John Neuhaus, John Jinkerson, John McCauley, Phillip Paul, John Ornettle, Oliver Robertson, Edwin Griebel, Robert Pfaff, Otto Ornettle, and James Jones. The band was disbanded in 1916, but reorganized in the 1950s with Harold Paul as Business and Public Relations Manager; Mathew Horn was President; Lee Dodd as Vice-President; Harry Krieg as Librarian; and Homer Schultz as Director.

Telephone System
The Fosterburg Telephone System was established in 1903 when the right-of-way was signed with the St. Clair and Eastern Telephone Company. The telephone line was known as the Star Line, and ran from Fosterburg to Alton. The company’s office and equipment were destroyed in the 1948 tornado. Negotiations began with the Illinois Bell Telephone Company, and the line was completed and service renewed in 1949.

Fosterburg Town Hall
The Foster Town Hall was constructed in 1908 on land donated by William R. Eddington, a Civil War veteran. Eddington had purchased the land from H. G. Bassett. Eddington also donated the materials to construct the hall, with members of the community donated their labor to construct the building. The hall was used for a variety of activities, including box socials, Christmas programs, church services, school programs, and as a polling place for elections. The hall was completely destroyed in the 1948 tornado. In 1954, a new basement was constructed just north of the old site, which was used until 1975, when a new town hall building of double-steel walls was constructed at the west end of Main Street.

 

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