Archive for the ‘Foster’ Category

Mom's senior class photo

Mom’s senior class photo

My mother passed away last week. She was only 74, but she had been battling lupus for nearly two decades and it had taken its toll on her liver. There is a very long and upsetting story that goes along with her decline, but this is not the place for it. It is upsetting enough that she is gone.

My mom was born in 1938 in Toledo, Ohio. She spent most of her childhood near Marion, but moved back to Toledo when she was in high school. Her father, Howard Eben Foster, was a musician and Mom took up both cello and trombone (the latter of which Grandpa also played). She loved music, particularly jazz and big band. When I first got satellite radio in my car, I would play 40s on 4 with her in the car and with every new song I’d grill her, “Who’s this?” She told me, “I don’t know ALL of them.”

Music is one of the biggest ways I bonded with Mom. I started to play trombone in junior high. I was in concert band, marching band and jazz band and Mom was at all of my concerts. When I was a freshman, our high school invited the Ohio University Marching Band to play the halftime show at our football game while they were on their way to their own event. Volunteers were sought to host members of the band overnight. My mom gladly agreed to host three, including at least one trombone player, in our tiny two-bedroom apartment. I’m not sure what those guys thought of us, but I know we were thrilled to have them there.

I spent a lot of time following a few rock bands around the country, and got to know the band members of one of them, enough to be listed in the liner notes of their CD. Mom supported that particular band nearly as much as I did. I will never forget how when I first played their single for her, she burst into tears. She didn’t know why, other than the music just affected her so much. I know exactly how she felt. It happens to me frequently.

My mom had a wonderfully close relationship with my sons, mostly due to the fact that I was a single mom when they were born. When I became a single mom again after my husband died, Mom stepped up to help out however she could. She rooted for the Chicago Cubs, through good times and bad, right along with the rest of us. She was my representative at games I couldn’t get to because of work. She was back up transportation and she was the cooler head to vent to during those oh-so-stressful teen years.

I think it’s safe to say that 2013 hasn’t been kind. I didn’t mention it at the time because he’s neither a Foster or a Branum, but I just lost my dad in April. I’m still grieving over that loss and now this. 🙁

I really don’t know what I’ll do without either of them.


More than a year ago, I wrote a post on my great grandmother’s birthday, where I mentioned that I had seen a date when she supposedly married my great grandfather, but I hadn’t yet found the proof. And then I went and found the proof and never posted an update. So, here it is! My information had the date listed as 22 May 1889. As it turns out, I was a year off and I’d been looking in the wrong place. Emma and Samuel lived in Marion County, which is where Samuel’s family lived. I’d checked Marion County  and Huntingdon County, PA records with no luck. It never occurred to me to check Crawford County!

Of course, it all makes sense after the fact. My mom has frequently told the story about how her mother fell when she was pregnant with my youngest uncle, and went into labor. Grandpa had to rush her to the hospital in Bucyrus. Since kids weren’t allowed up in the hospital, my mom and other uncle had to stay in the car. While they were there, a car pulled in next to them, relatives from Bucyrus who’d been called by my grandfather to come and take care of the kids. But my mom and uncle refused to get into their car.

Aunt Grace’s notes state that Emma had come to Ohio to live with family, but then she had to go home again briefly because her father was ill. John B. Briggs died on 15 April 1890. Emma married my great grandfather the following month. But before she did, she was probably living in Bucyrus. Her youngest sister, Laura, had been sent to live with family in Bucyrus after their mother died, so everything fits.

Well, except it would be nice to know WHO those relatives in Bucyrus were…

Emma Briggs FosterFinally! A birthday! On this date in 1868, my great grandmother, Emma Adelia Briggs was born in Blairs Mills, Pennsylvania (Huntingdon county) to John B. Briggs and… well, more on that later.

Emma, according to the notes of her daughter, Grace Foster Seckel, moved to Marion, Ohio and worked in a dress shop. Eventually, she married Samuel Blocksom Foster. The information I have states they were married on 22 May 1889, but I have yet to find a record that confirms that. As I stated in the post about my grandfather, Emma and Samuel had four children together.

Emma lived to see her 81st birthday and then died two days later on March 13, 1949.

This photo is courtesy of Grace Foster Seckel’s daughter (I will not name living people here without their permission). I think she looks about 15 years old, but I could be wrong. I’d be interested in hearing any other opinions on the subject. Feel free to leave a comment here if you have anything to say.

Emma’s mother is a bit of a mystery and it’s one that I will discuss in multiple future posts. I’ll start this evening by mentioning that the 1870 census shows John B. Briggs living with his wife Adaline and three children, Alfred, Emma (who was 3 at the time) and Thomas, whose age was listed as five months. Remember this fact, because it’s going to show up in another post very soon.

Self-portrait of Howard Eben Foster

Fifty years ago today, a man I never knew left this world too soon. Howard Eben Foster was only fifty years old and his first and only grandchild was just nine months old when he died.

Howard’s parents were Emma Adelia Briggs and Samuel Blocksom Foster. All in all, there were four children: Hattie Corrine, Carl Blocksom, Lulu Grace (or Grace Lulu–she wrote it both ways) and Howard.

I’m told that Howard had no middle name when he was born. He took on Eben as his middle name because it was the name of the doctor who saved his life after he was stricken with scarlet fever. The impact of this becomes even more obvious when one learns that his older sister, Hattie Corrine, died of scarlet fever before Howard was born.

Visiting the cemetery where his parents and oldest sister are buried, it is easy to believe that they never recovered from losing their first born child. It’s also easy to believe that perhaps Howard’s parents tried not to get too close. I’m making a lot of assumptions, of course. But the stories I’ve heard indicate that life wasn’t easy for him.

Those stories of Howard range from shockingly painful to laugh out loud hilarious. One hopes that old wounds might have healed if he’d had the time on this earth to repair them. It saddens me that he never had the chance. But I am also so grateful that those family members manage to view things with a wider lens, so that those hilariously funny stories are willingly shared.

Howard is one of the two biggest reasons that my interest in genealogy has taken hold. It seems only fitting that I should begin this blogging attempt by remembering him today. After all, without him, I wouldn’t be here to write this blog post.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Foster.