Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Charles Daniel Foster

CHARLES DANIEL FOSTER. Pioneer existence has a tendency to develop one supreme quality, resourcefulness. The American pioneer has in fact often been called a picture of complete adequacy and independence. He has shown himself able to live and secure the means of living when separated from all the institutions of civilization. When shorn of all the implements and conveniences, he shows his ability to devise and improvise substitutes until able to bring himself in touch with the main source of supply.

Kansas has had its pioneers, and a chapter from the early experiences of Charles Daniel Foster, who came to Ness County in 1885, will illustrate some of the shifts to which the early settlers were put and how he made himself master of his circumstances.

When he came to Ness County in 1885 he was unmarried. He entered a homestead in Nevada Township and lived on it until he had patented it. Seven years were spent there. On coming to the county he had only a horse and $3.60 in cash. In order to gain the necessities of daily bread he had to work out for others, and when he could not find such employment he had plenty to do in improving his claim. His first improvement there was a sod house ten feet square. It was furnished with furniture made by himself except a single chair. He made his bedstead of two by fours for posts and one by sixes for side rails, with short cross pieces or slats upon which to rest his feather bed. His cupboard and table were combined, and were really a box three feet square, the lid serving as a table and also as a door to the cupboard. His dishes were all tin, and when company came he had to surrender the only chair in the house.

That was the kind of structure and the kind of comforts and conveniences he had for five years. In the meantime he had prospered somewhat and then built a better soddy, using some lumber in its construction and plastering it on the inside. His capital then comprised three good horses, wagon and harness and a fairly good outfit of machinery. He was also maintaining himself off the crops raised on his claim. He finally sold his claim or rather exchanged it for property worth about $200. In the meantime he had proved up a tree claim, but gave it and a pair of mule colts to pay a note to which his name was attached as a security.

Such were in brief some of the early trials and experiences of one of the now most prosperous and substantial citizens of Ness County. Charles Daniel Foster is a native Kansan, having been born in Brown County August 7, 1863, though nearly all his early years were spent in Missouri until he returned to Kansas and to Ness County in 1885. His parents removed from Brown County in 1867 and settled near Humansville in Polk County, Missouri. In August, 1883, they removed to Vernon County, Missouri, and in the vicinity of Harwood in that county Charles D. Foster remained until February 18, 1885, when he took up his permanent home in Ness County.

Thus all his early years were spent in the country and he has seldom known any other environment than farm. His experiences have also been varied, not only in the soil and climate of Western Kansas, but also the rugged districts of Missouri. He has lived with and among various grades of citizenship and people, and that constant touch with human life has brought him most of his education and practical ability. He attended a common school and spent two years in a high school at Humansville, Missouri. Later for one winter he took a short business course.

In April, 1892, Mr. Foster removed to the farm which he now owns and on which he resides. This was originally school lands and comprised the northeast quarter of section 9, township 18, range 23, in Center Township of Ness County. Twenty-five years ago the land was as wild as nature could make it. There he repeated the progress of pioneering. He built his third sod house, and three of his children were born there. Mr. Foster has contributed most substantially to the improvement of his locality and his land now has a large and commodious stone residence, a splendid barn which stands up in full view for miles around, and there is nothing wanting in the way of improvement and facilities for handling his land and his crops. Increasing prosperity has enabled him to get together six quarter sections of land in a single body, three quarter sections lying in section 9, and he also has the west of section 10 and the southwest of section 3. As a farmer he has about 300 acres under cultivation, chiefly devoted to wheat, though he also raises barley, oats, some corn and the usual feed crops. Besides his large holdings as a farmer Mr. Foster is a director in the National Bank of Ness City.

Almost continuously since he came to Ness County he has been a factor in school affairs. It is said that he holds "the long distance record" as a member of a school board in this part of Kansas. He helped to build the first school house by donation where he first settled, and was on the board there several years before his marriage. The only break in his membership was when he resigned to move to his present location, and the new district soon had him again in service.

The political history of Ness County could not well be written without repeated reference to the name of Charles Daniel Foster. He was born under the republican flag and has never voted otherwise. Some years ago he allied himself with the progressive movement, though he has never failed to vote for the republican nominee for president since his maiden ballot went to James G. Blaine in 1884. For four years Mr. Foster was a member of the board of county commissioners. He was representative from his home county in the Lower House of the State Legislature in 1913, and rendered some valuable service. He was on the committee on assessments and taxation, committee of fees and salaries, committee of State Historical Society, and committee of municipal indebtedness. One of the subjects that attracted his particular attention in the Legislature was the passage of a law providing for state publication of school books. He also helped to make the house fee and salary law, whereby all officers were placed on salaries and fee custom abolished. Because of the law requiring members to cast their ballots for the person receiving the highest vote for senator at the preceding primaries, he was constrained to vote for Mr. Thompson as candidate for the United States Senate. Mr. Foster has been a delegate to the State Republican Convention and to the District Convention for nominating congressmen, and for many years he has been active in the Farmers Union, having attended several state conventions and was a member of the state executive committee for two years.

Mr. Foster was elected to the Legislature in 1916, defeating the democrat who defeated him two years before. His committee assignments embraced: chairman assessment and taxation committee and member legislative apportionment committee, fees and salaries committee, public welfare committee and temperance committee. His important work in the House was on the committee as chairman of assessment and taxation, and his service was complimented by the chairman of the State Tax Commission. As a member of the temperance committee he helped formulate the Kansas "bone dry law," and as one of the public welfare committee he helped shape some wholesome legislation—the anti-cigarette law, the revision of the censorship law for moving pictures. He favored the good-roads program of the governor and supported legislation in behalf of public education.

Mr. Foster was brought up as a Missionary Baptist, and has always adhered to that faith. He has given both of his time and means to the promotion of church matters and has membership in the congregation at Ness City.

Charles D. Foster is a son of Isaac W. Foster, and a grandson of John D. Foster, who was the son of an Englishman and spent most of his life in Kentucky. Isaac W. Foster was born in Kentucky, was reared in Greenup County, had only the advantages afforded by the rural schools of his time, and as a young man he taught several terms. About 1859 he removed to Missouri, but being a Union man in sentiment after the outbreak of the war he refugeed from Vernon County into Kansas. In this state he was a member of the Kansas Militia in the company commanded by Capt. Robert D. White. Isaac W. Foster died in Vernon County, Missouri, October 7, 1893. He was born in 1830. His wife, Mary F. Collins, was born in Louisa County, Kentucky, March 17, 1832, a daughter of George Collins. She died at Utica, Kansas, at the advanced age of eighty-six, November 1, 1917. Her children wore: Ella F., wife of T. J. George, of Eldorado Springs, Missouri; Olive B., wife of George M. Henson, of Enid, Oklahoma; Alice V., widow of W. A. Vantine, living at Fowler, Colorado; James R., of Utica, Kansas; Charles D.; Ida G., wife of A. C. Harman, of Ness City; Lois I., wife of John R. Field, of Walker, Missouri; and Isaac W., of El Paso, Texas.

In Ness County December 8, 1892, about the time he removed to his present farm home, Mr. Foster married Miss Sarah J. Dickson. She was born in Mahomet, Illinois, September 4, 1865, a daughter of Andrew S. Dickson. Her father came to Ness County in 1882, proved up a homestead, remained there a number of years and then went to Colorado, dying at Pueblo. During the war Mr. Dickson was a Union soldier in an Illinois regiment, and in the battle of Chickamauga lost a leg. He was born in Vermilion County, Illinois, and his father was also a native of the same state. Andrew Dickson married Henrietta Boggs, a native of Ohio and a daughter of William H. Boggs. She also died in Pueblo, Colorado. Their children were: Amos J. Dickson, of Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Oscar F., of Calhan, Colorado; Mrs. Foster; and Will S., of Trinidad, Colorado. Mrs. Foster received a country school education in Johnson, Russell and Ness counties, Kansas, and taught her first school when eighteen years old. For seven years she was in country school work and abandoned it when she married. She has joined her interest to that of her husband in the education of their children, and two of their daughters are themselves teachers. She has always been active in temperance work, is treasurer of the county Women's Christian Temperance Union and president of the Local Union.

While some of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Foster were born in a sod house, they have been given the best of advantages in their home environment and also in the schools, and some of them are still students while others of them have completed their education. C. Malcolm, the oldest, is a resident of Ness City, married Sadie Sherwood, and has a son, Vernon Maurice. Dana F. is a graduate of the Ness City High School, taught in Ness County after she graduated there, and is now pursuing her studies in Lindsborg College. Lois H. is a graduate of the class of 1916 in the high school at Ness City, and the next younger, Helen C., graduated in the same high school in 1918. The younger children are named Robert Dell, Dan E. and Oscar Wayne, twins, Lillian Dale and Marina Irene.

Since 1893 Mr. Foster has been an active member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is a past noble grand, has represented his lodge at the Grand Lodge a number of times, and has also served as deputy grand master. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, is a working member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association, being local secretary, and his wife is also very much interested in fraternal work. She was the first noble grand of the Rebekah Lodge at Ness City, served one term as deputy and has been a delegate to the State Assemby[sic] of the order. She is also a member of the Occidentals, a mutual insurance order.


Pages 2497-2499.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

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