Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The “Foster” in Fosterville

Foster Farm and Coal Operation

Foster farm and Foster Coal, scanned from Titus, Simmons, and Titus Atlas of Mahoning County, Ohio

When I was in elementary school, I used to spend several weeks in the summer with my grandparents who lived on Cohasset Drive off of Glenwood. One of the fun things we used to do was go over to Fosterville, particularly to go to matinees at the Foster theater. In later years, Mr. Paul’s Bakery was the place to go for baked goods and cakes for nearly every occasion, including weddings.

When I wrote last week about coal mining in Youngstown, I discovered who the Foster was in “Fosterville.” His name was Colonel Lemuel Talcott Foster and his family moved to the Youngstown area in 1825, when he was ten months old. He grew up working in his father Jonas sawmill and on his farm. He was also a boyhood friend of William McKinley, a friendship that lasted the rest of McKinley’s life.

During the Civil War he organized the First Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Calvary and was elected Colonel. He was involved in a number of engagements including the taking of Island No. 10 at Vicksburg. He also recruited effectively for what were then called the “colored” regiments.

Returning from the war, he devoted his energies to developing the three hundred acres he had acquired located where present day Indianola Avenue and Canfield Road meet Glenwood Avenue. He raised shorthorn cattle, there are records that he was a horse breeder, and he farmed. But perhaps what he was most known for was the Foster Coal Company and the high quality coal in the two mines on his property. The coal even won a gold medal at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

His first wife bore a name also familiar in the nearby area. He and Florence Lanterman were married in March of 1869 and had two children before she passed in 1873. He married again in 1878 to Susannah B. Alexander.

As a business and civic leader he was a friend of politicians and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1878 and 1880, and for state senator in 1891. He also served as a Justice of the Peace for nine years and for six years as a township trustee.

Foster witnessed the beginning of the transition of the area from farming and mining to a residential area. The last mine closed in 1915. In the early 1890’s, when Volney Rogers was engaged in the creation of Mill Creek Park, he donated a twenty acre tract of land to the park. In 1895 the Youngstown Park and Fall Street Railway company was formed providing trolley service from downtown to a terminus in the Fosterville area in what would become Idora Park, which was situated at the end of the trolley line.

I have not been able to find any evidence of Foster’s involvement in either the Railway or Idora Park. I wonder if he was more focused on the enterprises on his own property including his spacious home. He possessed one of the largest personal libraries in the area with over 2,500 volumes. He passed away on September 7, 1911.

And now you know how Fosterville got its name.

5 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The “Foster” in Fosterville

  1. This is most interesting. Too bad we were too busy growing up and studying to realize the rich history behind our town and how it developed.
    Bob I appreciate your research and posting for us now. As a mature adult I know what a treasure I had as a child. Thank you. Alice from Cali

  2. My dad was a mailman in Fosterville for probably 20 years. He absolutely loved delivering mail in that area. This was in the early ‘60s after I was born into the late 70s or so.

  3. Pingback: Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The President from the Mahoning Valley | Bob on Books

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