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Foster, Philip, 1805-1884. NWDA

 
 

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Biographical History

A native of Maine, Philip Foster was born at or near the town of Argyle in 1805, the son of William and Lucy (Spencer) Foster. In 1832 he married Fanny Cummins (or Cummings) and the couple had one son. Mrs. Foster died in 1829, probably in childbirth, and Foster re-married in 1837. His second wife was Mary Charlotte Pettygrove, the sister of Francis Pettygrove, with whom Foster had entered a business partnership in Calais, Maine. Pettygrove later pursuaded Foster to join him in a venture that would take them both to the Oregon Country.

In March of 1842 the Foster and Pettygrove families sailed from New York City to the Pacific on the ship Victoria. After six months in Hawaii they sailed to Oregon in April of 1843 on the Fama. Settling for a time at Willamette Falls (later Oregon City), Foster established a general store there and later built a flour mill in partnership with Walter Pomeroy. Meanwhile his former partner, Francis Pettygrove, purchased a portion of a new townsite up-river that would later become Portland. Foster eventually purchased a half-interest in a 640 acre land claim situated on the Clackamas River at the mouth of Eagle Creek. He also served as treasurer of the Oregon provisional government from July 1844 to July 1845 and was a partner in the Willamette Cattle Company. At the end of 1845 he joined with Samuel K. Barlow to construct and maintain a road for overland emigrants, known as the Barlow Road. Foster's farm at Eagle Creek became a stopping point and supply depot for many of the migrant wagon trains that travelled this route.

In his later years, Philip Foster served as postmaster at Eagle Creek, Oregon (1867-1874) and was involved in local school district affairs. He continued farming and stock raising on his Eagle Creek claim until his death in 1884.

From the finding aid for Philip Foster papers 1834-1967 1844-1874 (Oregon Historical Society)

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