Diary of Rebecca A. Foster

Compiled by Karen M. Stalker. Personal use of this information is permitted. Absolutely no commercial use may be made of this information without the express permission of Karen M. Stalker.

Notes from Karen: This diary was copied to true form, except for an offensive word no longer acceptable in this modern day. All misspelling, including names, and punctuation, was copied as written by Rebecca.

There are many people who graced the life of Rebecca. Your ancestor may have been one of them.

Rebecca Ann Parker Foster was my great-great-grandmother.

Rebecca Ann Parker Foster
May 11, 1840 - April 17, 1906

Mother of Salina Frances Foster Downey
Preserved by Mattie Foster Elmore and now by Mary Elmore Thomas. (Mrs. R.C. Thomas.)

Alexander, Erath County, Texas - February 10, 1902

Rebecca A. Foster; I was born May 11th, 1840

I will give a few sketches of my life as I can remember them.

There is not half I know, but a few things so my children, my grandchildren and great grandchildren may read after I have passed away. I'll begin in the 40's somewhere at the first of my recollection when I was a child and know no trouble and it seems to me now that everybody was happier then than now.
The people with families to care for enjoyed themselves for there was not so many big I's and little U's.

I was born in Johnson County, Arkansas. My parents came there from Tennessee in about 1838 or 1839. They moved in a flat boat so they said. My father's name was John Parker, my mother's name before marriage was Susanah Barington. About 1841 or 1842, they moved to Yell County and settled where now is called Briggsville. At that place was the first recollection. It was a new country and there were not mills of any sort close by. That is when I first remember the sawed plank puncheon floors hewed out of logs and board doors, cedar rails and pigpens to ______________. Oh, that dear, good clear running spring that we had down under the hill. I never will forget, the men made all the chairs, plow stocks and wagon's, in fact nearly everything was made at home. Oh, the wheels and loom were kept running all the time. We had good nice homemade dresses for home and brand new ones for church. They all loved their neighbors but there was much to do in this day and time of fast living.

As I said, mills were scarce and we ground a heap of our corn in what they called a steel mill turned with a crank with both hands. Biscuits came very seldom for there was no wheat raised there and it got was a long ways to market and very high, so when we got some flour, we had to be saving of it for pies. But oh we had lots of hog and hominy, milk, butter and lots of deer venison and wild turkeys. Oh and that good pattie bread cooked in an oven or skillet by a good fire with a great broad hearth and fireplace. I think they all enjoyed life. I did, and it seems everybody else did.

There was 13 children borned, but seven of us lived to be grown. All girls but one. When I was 8 years old, Father and Mother moved across the mountain on the north side in 15 miles of Dardanelle. We lived near the Pettiejane River and it was a good country but sickly, and it shortened my parents days - my mother died in 1853. That was the first trouble I ever saw. Two of my sisters were married when she died, the oldest Emeline lived in Tennessee at her mother's death. Her man's name was Jessee Towell, my second sister married Wash Johnson. She lived in Chickelah. Name Zenabiah two years after Mothers death and from the 20th or January till the 28th April. My Father died between ____________ in 55. In between my Mother's and Father's death sister Calmeace married her man, name was Russell Foster. At Father's death we had to break up housekeeping as we was 4 girls of us left. Oh how happy children ought to be that their parents are spared until they are grown. Sister Martha and I lived with sister Calmeace. We were then 18 miles apart and the two youngest, Mary and Martha were twins. We had to separate them and oh, how heart rending it was. It was thought best as our sisters and their husbands were poor and all had to work to make a living. So you know we were not happy with our family scattered as so many others have been. So I will stop here for a while, and go back to my early recollection in those happy days.

I forgot to tell some of Father's and Mother's good neighbors. My Father's brother Jonathan Parker, all of his family have passed away only one - she is a widow with no children. Lives with sister Mary in Yell Co. Arkansas. Her name is Reney Aviary. Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Colman was a northerner, and oh they were good people. Sister Lydia and I did love to go of a Saturday night and play with Felicia Ann and her sister Marge. There were two of that family living the last I knew of them. Old Timey Brigg and a large family. Uncle Timey as he was called was a class leader in the church, a good straight forward citizen. I spent many a happy hour there playing with Becky and Ann. Small children as we were then. They had several grown children at that time which there is only two living now that I know of. The girl Jane was married to Fred Crownover when I was five years old. It was the first wedding I remember, all our family was there. I still remember the song that we all sang that night. It was the ministers' farewell. Oh to think what is imprinted on a child's mind stays with them so long. I met with that same woman last summer was a year ago in Norman, Oklahoma and spent a good day with her talking old times over. She was visiting her brother Lee Briggs who lives at that place. Lee is the baby one of the family - all passed away but him and Jane.

Another one was my mother's sister and her husband, Berry Ranserville. They had a large family. Oh what a day. It was a Saturday evening for sister Lydia and my self to put on our new cotton dresses and aprons as homespun was nearly all that was made then, and go play with our cousins. Only three of them now is living, in Arkansas, the other two were in Texas a few years ago. There was Davie Watson and family all passed away but one. She lives in Oklahoma. Lidie Capshaw - now she lives with her only child Tom Capshaw. Her husband is dead. I hold her near and dear to me, for we knew each other in childhood and have kept up correspondence when we was separated. She lived with me in the war time, so as we are both old and have had many happy hours together and trouble mix with it no one can blame me for loving her. She is a tired and true friend indeed. Oh so many other family did visit my parents in them times I not space to tell all I know. Our neighbors was not as close as these days that they visit and I know loved one another. There was John Boles and family with Mrs. Boles is still living and some of her children Jo Gault and family his first wife was a Bird Thomas married in South Carolina, she died his wife was Timey Brigg daughter Polly both wives left several children. At their deaths him and the widder Bales married. In the days Jo Gault lived till a few years back saw his first wife live with his children at Dardenelle the last I know of her. There was Uncle John Maxwell; his wife was father's sister; his brother Isaac; Davises, Bill and Ned, two Jacksons; John and Bob; old Grandma Lofton, and the last of others that have all passed away. Oh to think there is so few living of the old ones, and so many of my age gone. Lots of them have their good work behind them that will never be forgotten by then that is living, and God will reward them at the resurrection.

I told of Mother's and Father's death. Three years after Father's death lacking from the last day of February to the 28th of April, 1858, I was married to Erastus Foster, sister Calmeace husband's brother. I lived 18 miles west of his home on Pettiejane River in the same county, old Yell. I lacked a little over two months being 18. Rassy lacked 6 months of being 22, a very pretty age to start out in a new life together, to battle thru this world. We lived with his father the first year. Tisney Foster as he was called, all his children was married. Rassy was the baby of 9 children so he was alone; only one black woman and two children, so we lived with dady as I called him, and we spent a happy year not as some live these days that dislike their father and mother in law or them dislike their daughter in law or son in law. Oh I love him like a father. So while the year passed we live there. I give a history of Father Foster as best I can remember as he told me.
He moved to Arkansas in 1842 came from South Carolina, his family then was 6 children, his wife and himself, one black woman.
Three of is children was married at that time, a daughter married in a short time after he came to the country to Tomey Haney, her name was Mary Ann which is all the one of that family that is still living. She is now 83 years old. I got a letter from her last eve. She can read and write without glasses, never had wore none in her life which is a miracle. She live on her same place where she and her husband settled in 1842. She has two sons in Ark, born and raised there. She lives with her younger son. She has one daughter who lives in San Saba Co. Texas, which she has visited 3 times in the last 8 years. I met her last summer at her daughters, her daughter married Sam McCarley. It was such a great satisfaction to meet my husbands people.
Father Foster raised 9 children, 5 girls, 4 boys all to be grown, never had a death in the family till his baby boy was 17 then he lost his wife. The baby boy was the one I married some 5 or 6 years after his mother died.
Now I commence a year later, my husband and me was like other new married people wanted to get in a home of our own which we did, bought a claim from Mr.
Inman. It was close to dady Fosters. He went to Clarksville, Johnson County, and entered the land. Paid one dollar and a quarter per acre for it. That was while Buchanan was president. There was a log house and smoke house and about one acre of land cleared a little corn crib, some this day and time would say-not live that way. Don't you ever believe but what we was two happy souls as there is these days with their mansions, and everything to furnish it. I know what I am talking about. On those happy days nothing to do but work hard, which neither of us dreaded for both had been raised to work and this was all for ourselves. Dady gave us land to make a crop and cleared ground (new) and had corn, pumpkin, peas, at home. We had cows, him one and me one. We had one horse. That Dady had big fat oxen and wagons good horses so when we needed them we always got them. Oh I never will forget our first meals we eat at home, how the coffee drunk out of our new coffee pot and our pretty red flowered cups and saucers. I had one of my sisters live with me, sister Martha lived with us from Christmas till July she went to sister Clys and sister Lydia one older than me came and lived with us till she was married, then sister Mary lived with us till she was married. Sister Martha died at the age of 18.

In 1861 the Civil War broke out. Rassy was no politicianer and never went out until the conscripters call came. I want to tell you that was the first trouble I had after we was married, some one now will say I don't see how she could have been so happy and as poor as they was. Oh the good enjoyment I had with the old wheel and loom, and making so much pretty cloth. I would rather hear the old wheel now a sizing than to hear the finest ________ there is; it takes me back in mind to them good happy days. Oh yes, them happy days when our children was all little and at home. No wonder the song is so sweet, Home Sweet Home. There is nothing like children and parents at home. I know that is true by experience when my Mother and Father was a living, and also while Rassy was alive and us an unbroken family, as we was at his death. He died March 19, 1878. We had nine children, 6 girls, 3 boys so it seemed that my trouble was more than I could bare. But God our Maker never lets us have more trouble than he gives us grace to bare, if we only trust him; so I not write on that now as I left out the worst part of our lives. As to try and give the trouble of the war, I can't begin to do justice to the history, but I say a few things as my children and grand children know nothing about. We seen hard times and had to spin and weave everything we had in the form of cloth, for the time come in Ark, there was nothing to buy, and we had both sides to contend with, the time came when there were no man nor horses, only a few old crippled men and (old) horses. Oh it was a trying time, some of us women would take care of the little children till the rest would go to the mill we yoke up the oxen hitch to a cart that was four wheel with a frame on it, throw in our sacks for several families, and then have a rope on their horns set out to mill whip Buck and Berrie to try and get back the same day. So for coffee there was a time there was none to get so we poached wheat while it lasted and some times we get out of salt (it all had to be hauled from the south part of the state.) and some would dig the smoke houses up and drip the dirt boil it down to get salt to use of all the messes I ever tired to eat was a mess of chicken and dumpling with no salt. I never forget it my dear close neighbor, Susie Page, we always shared good and bad together. She was one of those neighbors the Bible tells us about, to love as ourselves. Rassy got wounded in the shoulder at Prairie Grove Battle, it was the north part of Ark. I think he was in the Confederate army under General Hinman, it was the 7th day of Dec. I think. He came home on furlow and stayed until the next June. He suffered a great deal and pieces of bone worked out all that spring and it was a running sore, all tho he made a corn crop only lacked plowing it the last time, so he had to go back to command in June. He got John Cannon a boy to finish the crop so he stayed with Hindman until Oct. and lived on half rations and I made all of his clothes he wore so he always was a union man. When Hindman was on the run for the Federals was coming on them, so at Fort Smith the rebels pull south so Rassy and all his company but one left the rebels and pulled home.

Henry Haire was the one that stayed with Hindman. So Rassy got home one day and the Federal army came the next day they all joined the Blue Coats, the same man Bright Herring was their Captain as he was in the Confederate army but later on Bob Wisherd was captain, he was from Iowa. Rassy stayed with them till peace was made. He was mustered out at Noristown, Polk Co. Ark. in June. We had no crop growing that year and fences all down and part burned up, but I was so thankful he was spared to get home while there was so many that never returned some killed in battle some died with sickness and ________ .
My good friend Susie Page's husband died in the army and left her with 3 little children as so many others was left.

Copyright © 2010: by Karen M. Stalker
All materials, images, and data contained herein are not to be copied or downloaded for purposes of duplication, distribution, or publishing without the express written permission of the owner.


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Last updated 10 Apr 2010