James E. Foster. It is a noticeable fact and one full of meaning, that people descended from Scotch-Irish stock are never backward about claiming such ancestry. Tho sturdy qualities and natural gifts of this combination, are so admirable, that any community offers a welcome and benefits thereby. Among the early colonial settlers in Virginia were the Fosters, crossing the ocean from Ireland to the United States and becoming afterward honorably and usefully identified with many sections of the Union. They were pioneers in Kentucky, later in Indiana and Illinois, and in more recent years making themselves felt in many lines of honorable effort in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. A well known and prominent member of this family is James E. Foster, who is superintendent of the city schools of Sayre, Oklahoma.
James E. Foster was born November 25, 1871, in Franklin County, Kansas, and is a son of James N. and Elizabeth (Taylor) Foster, the fifth in order of birth in a family of eight children, the record being as follows : Henry B., who is pastor of a Methodist Episcopal church at Kansas City, Missouri; Mary Ella, who is the wife of Rev. John W. Slusher, a Methodist minister in the Missouri conference; William W., who resides on his farm situated three miles west of Elk City, Oklahoma; John F., who lives on his farm located five and one-half miles southwest of Elk City; James E., residing at Sayre; Anna Estella, who is the wife of Archibald Watts, a farmer near Merkle, Texas; Arthur J., who is a teacher of English in the high school of Delta, Colorado; and Charles A., who is assistant auditor of a street railway company and resides at Pueblo, Colorado.
James N. Foster was born in Putnam County, Indiana, in 1837, and was married at Greencastle to Elizabeth Taylor, who was born in 1839, at Terre Haute, Indiana, and died on the homestead farm of her husband in Oklahoma near Elk City, in 1902. After the birth of one child, James N. Foster and wife removed to Franklin County, Kansas, and in 1879, to Wild Cherry, Fulton County, Arkansas. In 1897 the family moved to Van Alstyne, Texas, and from there in 1900 to Oklahoma, Mr. Foster taking up a homestead in Beckham County, which his son, James E., now owns, but died in the same year, at Elk City. He was a man of great ability and wherever he lived became of importance. During the Civil war he served in the Kansas militia, and for a number of years represented Franklin County in the legislature. In his early political life he was a whig and later became a republican. Both he and wife were active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he held dignified position, serving both as deacon and elder. Ho was one of the widely known members of the Odd Fellow fraternity.
In boyhood, James E. Foster attended the public schools at Wild Cherry, Arkansas, and later the Mountain Grove Academy, at Mountain Grove, Missouri, from which institution he was graduated in the class of 1894, although, previously he had taught one year of school at Antlers, in Wright County, Missouri, and one year at Chapin, Missouri. His inclination led in the direction of educational effort and ever since, more or less continuously, he has devoted his time and talents to this work. From 1894-5 he taught at Lowassie, in Shannon County, Missouri; from 1895 to 1898, at Maple, Texas; and from 1898 to 1904, at Linn Creek, Missouri.
In August, 1904, Mr. Foster came to Oklahoma and taught near Elk City for one year, and for two years was principal of the Elk City High School. Professor Foster then came to Sayre, where, for four years he was superintendent of schools and afterward, for one year, was principal of the Carter schools. During the following year he lived with his family on his farm (his father’s old homestead), and during the school year taught at Merritt. During the following year he found relaxation from mental work by operating a cotton gin at Elk City, but in 1915 was back in harness again, becoming superintendent of the schools of the City of Sayre, where he has under his supervision, thirteen teachers and 700 pupils.
Professor Foster was married in 1898, at Linn Creek, Missouri, to Miss Anna Shelby Foster, a daughter of the late Thos. Foster, a former well known farmer of that section. As far as known no relationship existed between the Foster families although no doubt, they may claim the same remote ancestry. To the above marriage the following children have been born: James Nelson, who was born October 21, 1899, is a student in the second year of high school; Eula, who was born October 11, 1902; Arthur M., who was born December 31, 1905; Anna, who was born January 23, 1911; and Lucile, who was born September 30, 1913.
Professor Foster and family belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he is a steward. As an educator he is held in the highest regard and is identified with numerous educational bodies, including the Beckham County Teachers’ Association, and the South-west and the Oklahoma State Teachers’ Associations. He has always maintained high standards and has had the satisfaction of seeing many of the progressive movements that he has conscientiously favored, accepted and adopted by boards of education. For many years he has been a Mason and is identified also with the Odd Fellows at Sayre. He is one of the substantial citizens of Beckham County, owning a fine farm of 120 acres, lying one-half mile south and three miles west of Elk City, and also a handsome residence at Elk City. In politics he has always been a republican but has not been as active along political as educational lines, at all times, however, lending his influence in support of movements designed to be practically and permanently beneficial to this section. In manner he is agreeable, with simple, unaffected dignity, and he enjoys not only the respect of the scholarly but the warm esteem of all who become well acquainted with him.