Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

01. Title Page and Introduction

Trek to Texas
1770 – 1870

Pearl Foster (O’Donnell)
Copyright 1966

History of early Texas pioneers
Tarrant – Denton – Cass & other counties

Dedicated to
Charles Edwin Wright, Jr.
William Richard Wright
John Thomas Wright

Besides the Story

It’s strange how much a book can hold
Besides the story that is told!
Dear memories lie there between
Its leaves, and dreams that might have been
The seeds of truth, for all we knew
When first we read those chapters through.
Old scenes, not noted in the plot,
Arise to mind; perhaps a spot
We loved in childhood, one where first
Earth’s beauty on our senses burst;
Perhaps a line may bring again
An hour of fragrant April rain,
And such enchantment as youth had
For every carefree girl and lad.
A name inscribed in faded ink
May take us to a lost world’s brink:
Strange, strange, how much a book can hold
Besides the story which is told!

Dear memories have prompted the writing of this chronicle about the neighbors, families and the ancestors of my father Ambrose Foster. He left us for a better world Thanksgiving 1949 and his last wish was to hold his first great grandchild in his arms. His first great grandson was born July 15, 1950.

May my critics judge the contents only and not on my ability as a typist, and remember my lack of training as a writer. A few words omitted and other minor errors have not been changed because of the tremendous job of typing a full page without error.

~Pearl Foster

02. Preface

Though this work has been arduous, there have been many compensations – the history that I have learned, the friends that I have made, and the fascinating road I have traveled with my ancestors – across the wilderness, through the wars and into the hearts and lives of their descendants. They conquered the wilderness, fought our enemies and we, their descendants, should never forget what these sacrifices mean to us.

At first I was amazed at the many conflicting accounts read in history books about those early years. A complete understanding has been reached as to how many contradicting items have occurred. I found by checking census and other available materials that they sometimes confused the places of residence and most often dates when they were not recorded. However, this work could not have been completed with-out [sic] their invaluable assistance and untiring efforts.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the help of E.T. Foster and E.J. Foster for their generous sharing of the large amount of data collected in the past thirty-five years at family reunions. Also Mrs. C.P. Joyce for her untiring effort to uncover new information or leads to where such information might be found, and all the many cousins for their co-operation [sic]. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Baker and Dr. Elliott of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary and their staff. I wish to express appreciation to the Fort Worth Genealogical Society and Mrs. R.N. Grammer, who made such an interesting and informative talk the last Monday of June 1964. This was the date my interest was aroused and a desire to learn more about my ancestors was fanned from a spark into a flame.

Realizing “every man is a bundle of of his ancestors” and also hunting for all information whether it be good or bad, for “He that has no fools, knaves, nor beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning” is an old and true bit of wisdom by Thomas Fuller: Gnomolgia, 1732. I did not find nor did I expect to find a great hero of the time or any with great wealth or power. I did find that as a rule “they were well enough to do” and “their first thought was for the welfare of each other and finding their way to a better world.”

Too much was found to confine this to a Foster family history. I found evidence of a close association and migration of several families from the Carolinas to Tennessee, to Missouri and then to Texas.

A special message to my grandsons and their descendants – “The greatest monument a man can build is his own character.”

written by,

Pearl Foster (O’Donnell)
Fort Worth, Texas

03. Table of Contents

Ambrose Foster Family Page 43
Allen History and Families 117
Battle at New Orleans 20
Bird’s Fort 27
Birdville Baptist Church 114
Bounty Land War of 1812 168
Carolina Pioneers 7
Cass County (Bowie), Texas Pioneers 64
Denton & Tarrant Counties’ Early Settlers 28
Early Days in Texas by Rev. Freeman 115
Estate of Ambrose Foster – Division of Land 141
Excerpts – Tarrant County and Texas’ Early Citizens 133
1850 Census of Tarrant County with a few notes 143
1858 Wagon Train from Tarrant and Denton Counties to Calif. 166
1868 Wagon Train to California from Hays County, Tex., K. Medlin 128
Fort Worth, Texas Growth 39
Foster Home – 1st Frame Residence in Linden, Texas 1855 77
Freeman Family 120
Frontier Medicine 36
George G. Foster Family 172
Grapevine, Texas’ Mounted Volunteers 37
Golden Anniversary Story of Cass County 68 – 70
Hall Medlin History by Homer Lewis Medlin 123
Harris Family History by Rachel Eads – Courtesy Flora Harris 118
Hood’s 1st Texas Brigade – Roster of Company D. 76
James Joyce Family by Cloyce and Versie Joyce 127
Judge C.C. Cummings’ Reminiscences 42
Legend 4
Life on the Texas Frontier 40
Lonesome Dove Baptist Church History (1st West of Elm Fork) 108
Malone Families by Nora Smith 120
Marion County, Alabama Pioneers 22
Medlin Families by Nora Smith 121
Memo – Legal Records – Tarrant (before 1865) 158
Missouri Pioneers 23
Mortality Rate on the Frontier 39
Muster Roll of Capt. Burdett’s Bedford County, Tenn. Company 19
NAME INDEX – Muster Roll, Church Members and 1850 Census arranged alphabetically are not in this index 179 – 191
1929 Foster Reunion 78
Old Letters of Interest 71 – 73
160 Members 1846 – 1854 Lonesome Dove (alphabetical order) 109
Pioneer Homes 34
Pioneer Pastime 35
Pioneer Travel 33
Pioneer Recalls War Era 72
Ordinary People 41 – 116
Platte County, Missouri Pioneers 24
Republic of Texas Citizens 176
Revolutionary War Voucher to Ambrose Foster 167
Rev. A.J. Hallford and Family 61
Tarrant County, Texas 25
Texas War Records 15
Thomas J. Foster History also Cass County, Tex. by Pat Foster 63
Thomas J. Foster Family 79
Valley of Virginia 6
Addenda (list of Lewis Madlin, Capt. 1812 Tax List) 193
Note: These names are not in the index and pages 11 – 14 are not indexed correctly as they were rewritten after index made
Web note: This is the Table of Contents as it appears in the book. Page references are for the book only and not related to the web site, however I wanted to include the book in its entirety. Not all sections and pages are referenced in the TOC, nor are all the pages listed correctly, but I left the TOC “as is”. The original Name Index is from pages 179 to 196 (not 191, as listed) and the Addenda begins on page 198 (not 193), with an unlisted Bibliography on page 197.
I will be linking each page on the Table of Contents as I add it to the site to make this a quick and easy reference, however for a full site index, please see the Site Map page.

04. Foster Coat of Arms


Crest: An arm in armor embowed, holding in the hand a broken tilting spear: proper.
Motto: Si fractus fortis. (If broken, still strong.)
Foster Arms: Argent, a chevron, vert, between three bugle-horns, sa., stringed, gu.

Below is the original scan from the book. This is possibly one of the most stained, most worn pages in my copy of the book, showing the Foster Coat of Arms page is clearly also one of the most beloved pages in the book.

Foster Coat of Arms

Webmistress Note:
Having studied the meaning behind the Foster Coat of Arms, I discovered the following definitions:
Embowed – the arm is bent at the elbow.
Proper – the way it appears in nature. The armor would be colored silver or gray, to match the way it appears in its natural coloring.
Argent – Silver or White. The “Field” (background) color would be represented as either silver or white.
Chevron – The ^ shape across the center of the shield.
Vert – Green. The color of the chevron.
Bugle-horns – In heraldry, bugle-horns are the sign of the forester or hunter.
sa. – Sable. Black. The color of the horns.
gu. – Gules. Red. The color of the strings.

Upon further investigation, I also discovered that the “helm” (or helmet) shown below the Crest is specifically a Jouster’s Helmet in style on the particular Coat of Arms chosen by our branch of the Foster family. This hints that the “broken spear” could, in fact, be a “broken lance” indicating Victory. Not all Foster Coats of Arms show this particular helmet, nor do all of them contain the broken spear in the Crest. To my knowledge, all Fosters however claim the Family Motto, Si Fractus Fortis, in some definition or other.

Below is my own drawing, recreating the full colors and details of the Foster Coat of Arms. The drawing is available for sale on CafePress on t-shirts, steins, mugs, prints and more. If you would like to support our site at Trek to Texas, purchasing your own copy of the Foster Coat of Arms would be a great way to help support the site.

Foster Coat of Arms

05. Family Legend

Family Legend

Prior to a record of a grant of land to Ambrose Foster in old Tryon County, Province of North Carolina on April 9, 1770, we have only a vague family tradition and a few old letters with indefinite statements.

A well known historian of Sumter, S.C. wrote “It is almost impossible to get any perfect record of any family considering the later fires when court-houses and records were burned.”

Our families were true pioneers, each generation moving into new unsettled lands where few if any records were kept and the later fires complicated the compiling of a perfect record but we were very fortunate in obtaining many records.

Our clues prior to 1770 consist of a few indefinite sentences in old letters that leave much unsaid: “The Fosters were Scotch”, “They migrated from Scotland to Ireland and then to America before the Revolutionary War”, “They settled in 1752 in the valley of Virginia”, “They fought at King’s Mountain and the Hornet’s Nest” and “After the war Joel Foster’s people moved to South Carolina but one brother remained in North Carolina”. There is also a very strong belief that “two Foster brothers settled on the land now the campus of Washington and Lee University.”

Foster Name

The name Foster and Forster is by high and most competent authority identified with Forester. The Foresters of England were keepers of the forest and became skilled hunters and wood-craftsmen. The first forester of record was Anarcher, the Danish Noble, Governor of Flanders and Great Forester of France who died in 837 A.D. and had son Bras de Fer (Iron Man) who died 877 A.D. according to several historians. Bras de Fer married Judith, daughter of of Charles the Bold, King of France. It is said from this line all the Fosters in England and America in the 17th and 18th centuries are descended. The shortening of the name to Foster is credited by most authorities as originating in England and from there, many migrated to Scotland and Ireland.


As we know [that] Joel Lewis Foster married Mary Jane Armstrong in South Carolina and probably in Abbeville, we were very interested in an account of the Armstrong families in “Notable Southern Families” Vol. 2, pages 179 to 198.1 It says that Thomas Armstrong’s (5th Lord of Maingerton) second son, John Armstrong of Gilnockie, was Robin Hood of the Border, and all the Armstrongs in the 17th century in Ireland as all the Armstrongs in America who trace thru [sic] the Scotch-Irish clan, descend from John Armstrong. Robert Armstrong was an immigrant from County Antrim to Pennsylvania in 1735. John Houston of the clan called the “Sam Houston families” because of that famous character was an immigrant from Ireland at about the same time, along with several so-called Scotch-Irish families.

A Mr. Houston believed to be closely related to John Houston, perhaps a brother, married Alice Armstrong, daughter of Robert Armstrong in Abbeville District, South Carolina. Their son, Robert Armstrong Houston, was born in Abbeville and the family moved to Tennessee about the turn of the century. This is about the same time Mary “Armstrong” and Joel L. Foster are believed to have moved to Cane Creek about 3 miles south of the Flatt Creek Community in the then Bedford County, Tennessee. In an effort to trace the vague story about Washington & Lee, we learned that Samuel Houston, father of Sam Houston gave some of the land now owned by Washington & Lee University. The land in the valley was the Borden Grant and Dr. Diehl, an alumnus of the school gave this information. He also said there had been so much litigation over the Borden lands, the cost of tracing all was prohibitive.

We found listed in an early Blount County, Tennessee tax list James Houston and Andrew Jackson. The 1820 census of Bedford County listed James Houston and family among a number of Armstrong families.2 We also learned that the Joseph Gibson – estate filed Murfreesboro in 1815 was the husband of Elizabeth, daughter of John Armstrong and his Will was filed in Pendleton District, South Carolina. We did not obtain the Joseph Gibson Will, but James Gibson was administrator and William Gibson of South Carolina, Robert and Elizabeth Gibson were named. The land Joel L. Foster had surveyed in Bedford (later Lincoln) County, Tennessee was part of a grant to John Gray Blount.

Coat of Arms

An interesting book review in the National Genealogical Magazine kept us from yielding to the temptation of claiming the beautiful Foster Coat of Arms and the story about Forestarius, brother-in-law of William the Conqueror, which we have seen in many Foster publications. The editor said, “no wonder William the Conqueror conquered England, he had so many of our American ancestors fighting for him.”3 He also regretted that so many family histories began with two to five brothers. We believe he was a bit too critical about this as there are many records proving that most of the pioneer emigrants moved in family groups.

Francis Foster-Barham (Barham assumed by one branch of the Foster line) said in “England – 1844″ – “The Fosters were time out of mind, a good, honest, jovial, eccentric race of men, living by hunting and fond of love, war and adventure. Their name is still redolent of the romance of Robin Hood and diverse bold outlaws of the good old times when our country was called Merry England; and they still rejoice at seeing the bugle on their armorial bearings – an instrument not inconvenient to have by one in mofe [sic] modern times, in which the art of blowing your own trumpet is sedulously studied. So numerous were they that a proverb arose ‘God made Adam and Eve and then the Fosters’. They are as numerous as the leaves on the trees in the forests for which they were named”.4

We picture the Coat of Arms which seems most suited and admit to a tendency to blow our own horn at times. We know our Fosters were skilled woods-craftmen – they were first “boatmen” and Joel L. Foster was a cooper by trade. His son Thomas J. Foster was a skilled builder as reported later in this chronicle. A recent letter from Dr. Dee Foster confirms the family tradition of their love to hunt and roam the forest. We found them living near the mountains, forest and the streams for more than one generation after their arrival in America. Dr. Foster wrote, “I wonder how far back the desire to hunt goes back in our Foster family? All that I have known have been hunters. During 1964, I added three bear skins, one moose and two barren ground caribou, all from Alaska. One Elk and a buck from New Mexico also a Corsican ram and Indian black buck antelope from Texas.["]

Ulster Scotch

In the reign of James the First, of England and Scotland, two Irish nobles rebelled against him, and the king took possession of their lands in the north of Ireland. The king offered inducements to the Scotch to emigrate to North Ireland. This country was called Ulster. Rev. Andrew Stewart, one of their ministers, wrote: “The king had a natural love to have Ireland planted with Scots, as being of a middle temper, between the English tender and the Irish rude breeding, and a great deal more likely to adventure to plant Ireland.”

By the beginning of the Eighteenth century the Scotch in Ulster numbered around a million, and they carried with them to Ireland their fondness for education and their love of liberty. They were thrifty and industrious and they prospered. Their prosperity excited the jealousy of their English rivals in manufactures, and the British Parliament began to pass laws restricting their woolen trade, so they began to leave for America where they were called Scotch-Irish. Not content with the oppressive taxation, the Parliament began to interfere with the religion of the Ulsterites. They were forbidden to have school teachers of their own and forbidden to hold any office higher than that of petty constable. Their ministers were forbidden to perform the marriage ceremony, and when they did, the marriage was declared illegal. So the Scotch left their Irish homes in an exodus that has been compared to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

In 1727 six emigrant ships full of Scotch-Irish arrived at Philadelphia in one week, and all through the first half of the Eighteenth century it was not uncommon for two or three emigrant ships a day to reach America from Ireland. They went to New England and also settled a good part of New York. One Scotch-Irish church there had 750 members. They peopled New Jersey. They took possession of the Quaker City, Philadelphia, and filled up Western Pennsylvania. Then as the Pennsylvania lands were taken, they moved southward. They occupied the fertile valley of Virginia and peopled the western counties. Thomas Jefferson said of Patrick Henry, whom he styled “Our leader in the measures of the Revolution in Virginia,” that “his influence was most extensive with the members from the upper counties”. They out-voted their cavalier brethren in the eastern counties.

As these upper counties of Virginia were filled and the best lands taken, or their sons reached manhood with a desire for land of their own, the great wave of migration south through the Shenandoah Valley began. Two things halted their migration west and turned it south – the barrier of the Appalachian ranges with no roads, and the French and Indian wars in 1754 for nine years.

Web note: Trek to Texas does contain an unlisted, and unnumbered Bibliography on page 197, however it appears to be an incomplete list in addition to not noting the location of sources used within the book. It is merely an alphabetical list of some of the sources. In the interest of providing as complete a record as I can, I’m starting a Web Bibliography to note specific sources mentioned in the book as fully as I am able. I will do my best to keep the source list as up-to-date as possible, linking back to the page on which the source is mentioned.

1 “Notable Southern Families” Vol. 2, pages 179 to 198.

2 1820 Census. Bedford County, Tennessee.

3 National Genealogical Magazine. Book Review. Unnamed author or date.

4 Foster-Barham, Francis. “England – 1844″

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