Biography of Jesse M. Foster

Jesse M. Foster, a native Kansan, had been a practical newspaper man since leaving college. He is now proprietor and publisher of the Clifton News, one of the oldest papers in continuous publication in Washington County.

This paper was established in December, 1885, by J. M. and J. C. Padgett. It was first known as the Local News. It was changed to the Clifton News in 1891 by L. A. Palmer, then the publisher. The successive owners and publishers were I. C. Ware, one year, A. Q. Miller, two years, N. F. Hewitt, Stoy E. Ware, Burt Fraser, P. M. Harmon, Best & Murdoek, later Best alone, and from him Mr. Foster bought the plant. The paper is published at the corner of Willow and Parallel streets. It is a republican paper and had a circulation over Clay, Washington and surrounding counties.

Mr. Foster was born at Clifton, Kansas, February 26, 1888. He is of old American stock. The Fosters came from England to Pennsylvania in colonial times and some of the family served in the Revolutionary war. The grandfather, John W. Foster, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1798, married a woman whose ancestors came from Saxony, Germany, to Pennsylvania. John W. Foster was one of the early settlers in that historle City of Galena, Hlinois, the home of General Grant before the war. He went from there to California in the days of ’49 and spent three years as a successful prospector and miner, accumulating a handsome fortune of $200,000 in gold. After returning to the States he became a merchant at St. Paul, Minnesota, but finally relocated at Galena, Illinois. He served as a soldier in the Mexican war and in his later years was elected sheriff of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, and was killed while in office. His death occurred at Galena in 1873. He married Ellen E. Lattimer, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1806 and died at Galena, Illinois, in 1856. None of their children are now living.

Alfred B. Foster, father of the Clifton publisher, lived in Kansas for many years and was widely and prominently known. He was born at Galena, Illinois, May 28; 1838, grew up there, and at the age of twenty-four became a soldier of the Union. He enlisted from Galena on August 8, 1862, in Company I of the Ninety-sixth Illinois Infantry. His term of service was for three years or during the war, and his actual service with the regiment was three years seven months. He was mustered in at Rockford, Illinois, September 4, 1862, as a private in Capt. John Barker’s Company I of the Ninety-sixth Regiment, under Col. Thomas E. Champion. This regiment was recruited by companies under the call of President Lineoln in the months of July and August, 1862. It was mustered in as a regiment at Camp Fuller, Illinois, September 6, 1862. It was part of the Second Brigade, Second Division, Fourth Corps, Army of the Cumberland. The record of this regiment is almost a record of the war as waged in the Central Mississippi Valley from the fall of 1862 until the close of hostilities. With his regiment Alfred B. Foster was on constant duty, endured the most arduous services and campaigns, and was practically never absent from roll call or from the fighting front when the regiment was engaged. On October 8, 1862, the regiment proceeded to the defense of Cincinnati, which was then threatened by Gen. Kirby Smith. On crossing the Ohio River it was assigned to the batteries in front of Covington, Kentucky, where they were engaged in guard and provost duty. October 19th the regiment removed to Lexington and Danville, Kentucky, and then proceeded under orders to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The important successive points of fighting and duty at which it was engaged included Fort Donelson, Spring Hill, Franklin, Triune, Liberty Gap, Shelbyville in Tennessee, Chickamauga, Georgia, Wauhatchie, Lookont Mountain and Missionary Ridge, Tennessee, Buzzard Roost, Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Kingaton, Dallas or New Hope Church, Kenesaw Mountain, Smyrna, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, Rough and Ready, Jonesboro and Lovejoy Station in Georgin, and the great battles of Franklin and Nashville in the early winter of 1864. After the battle of Nashville the regiment was engaged in scouting duty at Bull’s Gap, Tennessee, and after Lee’s surrender was ordered to Nashville en route for Texas to operate against Kirby Smith. The news of Smith’s surrender arrived when the regiment reached Nashville and it was then returned home for muster out. This regiment endured heavy losses in killed, wounded and missing, and though Alfred B. Foster was always at posts of danger he escaped without particular injury. His regiment was mustered out at Nashville June 10, 1865, and received its honorable discharge at Chicago July 2, 1865. Alfred B. Foster came out with the rank of corporal.

After the war he engaged in teaming in Davenport, Illinois, and was also a pilot on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Paul. During that time he had his home in St. Paul. Following this service he again spent two years in Galena and then started for Kansas. He traveled to St. Joseph, Missouri, by railroad, and from that point drove a prairie schooner across Kansas to a point five miles south and one mile west of Clifton. His arrival here was in April, 1870, and he homesteaded 160 acres, keeping that land until just before his death. The farm was his home and place of activity until 1903, when he retired, living one year in Clay Center, five years at Manhattan, Kansas, and then removed to Clifton, where he died December 31, 1915. From the time he located in Kansas in 1870 until his death he was never once outside the borders of the state. He liked Kansas and never found a good reason to sojourn outside its borders. He made a reasonable success as a farmer and was a man of active relations with his fellow men. In politics he was a republican and in his home locality he served as trustee of Mulberry Township, as elerk of the township and as justice of the peace. He was a Methodist, was for forty-five years connected with the Independent. Order of Odd Fellows, being a charter momber of Clay Center Lodge, and was affiliated with Sedgwick Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.

In October, 1866, at Galena, he married for his first wife Sarah Matson. She died in March, 1867. On February 14, 1873, he married Lila B. Stewart. She was born in 1849 and died at Clifton, Kansas, May 29, 1889. Her children were: Frank W., who died at Clifton at the age of twenty-six, while a student of law in the University of Kansas; Hattie M., wife of George Stoneback, a farmer at Clay Center, Kansas; Alfred B., who lives at Wichita, Kansas, and is engaged in the “shotting” of oil wells; and Jesse M., the youngest of his father’s family. His father married for his third wife, in Clay County July 1, 1891, Mrs. Sarah (Atwood) Hazelwood.

The early envitonment of Jesse M. Foster was his father’s farm, and during that time he attended rural schools in Clay County and also the Clay Center High School. For four years and a few months he was a student in the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, lacking only a few weeks of graduation when he left college in 1908. Since then continuously for almost ten years be had been active in the newspaper business, following it in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Minnesota. In 1913 he bought the Clifton News. Mr. Foster is a republican as well as his paper, and fraternally is affiliated with Clifton Lodge No. 81, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Concordia Lodge No. 586, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

On November 3, 1915, at Clifton, he married Miss Hazel Dolan, daughter of T. M. and Flora (Graham) Dolan, both now deceased. Her father was sole owner and proprietor of the telephone system at Clifton, was a notable figure in the demosratic party in Kansas and at one time candidate for state treasurer. For several terms he filled the office of sheriff of Washington County.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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