Eli Grenawalt Foster, of Topeka, Kan., ranks as one of the states leading and progressive educators. He is a native of Pennsylvania, having been born on a farm near Elizabethtown, that state, May 4, 1864. He received his early education in the district schools, supplemented with a course in the state normal school, at Millersville, Pa., from which he graduated in 1886. After his graduation he accepted the principalship of the Soldiers' and Orphans' Home, at Philadelphia, Pa., which position he held during the school year of 1886-87. But, believing the great West was a better field for the progressive teacher, he decided to make Kansas his future home, and at the expiration of his contract at the Soldiers' and Orphans' Home, he came to Topeka. That was in 1887, and since that time he has been one of the city's most energetic, wide-awake and painstaking school principals. During his long and successful career in the school room he has made a careful study of United States history, both as to subject matter and as to the best methods of teaching the subject to pupils of elementary schools. As a result of that study he has formulated a series of historical maps, to be used by both the teacher and the student, which are doing much to make the study of history interesting and definite to the average pupil. Foster's "Historical Maps" and "Outline Maps" are now used in the schools of hundreds of cities throughout the United States and in many of our colleges and normal schools. He is the author of "Reference Manual and Outlines of United States History," "Civil War by Campaigns," "Illustrative Historical Chart" (A series of large maps on American history), a series of "Outline Maps," and a "United States History." The Jury of Awards of the St. Louis Exposition awarded a medal and diploma to Prof. Foster for the excellence of his series of historical maps. These publications proved so popular and the demand for them so great that in 1906 it became necessary to organize the Historical Publishing Company, of Topeka, to publish and handle his maps and books. Prof. Foster has been president of the company since its organization, and at the same time has successfully handled the Harrison School. But in 1911 he resigned the latter position to devote all his time to literary work and to the publishing business.
At Millerstown, Pa., on Sept. 2, 1890, Prof. Foster was united in marriage with Miss Alice Mitchell, the daughter of George Howe and Elizabeth (Coleman) Mitchell, and to this union three children were born: Miriam M., Ruth M., and Mitchell Eli. Prof. Foster's parents, Eli and Mary (Grenawalt) Foster, are still living on the old homestead near Elizabethtown, Pa. Both are natives of that locality, the former's birth having occurred in 1829 and the latter's in 1838. Eli Foster was a successful school teacher in his day, as was his father before him. These honored parents were married in 1857 and were blessed with five sons and five daughters, all of whom grew to maturity and were present at their old home in 1907 to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of their father and mother.
While Prof. Foster is a Republican in politics, still he reserves the right to vote for men of high character for office irrespective of party. Mrs. Foster was educated at the state normal school at Millersville, Pa., and later graduated from the musical department of Washburn College in Topeka, and is prominent in the city's musical circles. In the retirement of Prof. Foster, the Topeka schools will lose one of its best principals and most successful educators, but as his life work will be devoted to educational research and the publication of his excellent works, Topeka's loss will be a gain to the cause of education, not only locally but nationally.Pages 256-257 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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