Notes for Theodore Foster: HON. THEODORE FOSTER (Jedediah, Ephraim, Ephraim, Abraham, Reginald), b. Brookfield, Mass., April 29 1752 ; m., Oct. 27, 1771, Lydia Fenner, dau. of Gov. Arthur Fenner of Rhode Island who gr. at Brown ; b. March 1, 1748 ; d. June 1, 1801 ; m., 2d June 18, 1803, Esther Bowen Millard of Foster, R. I. ; b. June 15, 1785 ; d. Dec. 29, 1815. He entered Rhode Island college (now Brown university), in 1767, being graduated in the class of 1770, and in 1773, on receiving the degree of A. M., delivering an oration on "The Future Greatness of the American Colonies." He received the same degree from Dartmouth college in 1786. In 1794 he was chosen one of the trustees of Brown university, which position he held until 1822. After his graduation, he began the practice of law in Providence county. He served as deputy from Providence in the general assembly, in six sessions, the first being that of October, 1776. From 1776 to 1781 he served as secretary of the Rhode Island council of war. In 1781 occasion arose for dividing the town of Scituate, in the western part of the state. The newly created town was named Foster, in compliment to him. As early probably as 1789 he was acting as naval officer of Providence, resigning in 1790. On the adoption by Rhode Island in May, 1790, of the Constitution of the United States, he was one of the two senators chosen to represent the State in Congress. His term of service as senator was one of the longest on record, namely, thirteen years, 1790 to 1803, and has been surpassed by only three others from that State. During this public service his wife died at Providence, in June, 1801. The next twelve years of his life were passed chiefly on his estate at Foster. After the death of his second wife, Dec. 29, 1815, he returned to Providence making his home with his oldest daughter, Mrs. Stephen Tillinghast, whose husband was a grand-son of Governor Stephen Hopkins. At her house he died Jan. 13, 1828. At two periods of his life, namely, from 1776 to 1785, and from 1803 to 1828, his time was largely devoted to the collection of historical materials. The papers left by him (many of which were placed in his hands by Governor Hopkins), amount to about one thousand and are preserved in sixteen bound volumes now in the possession of the Rhode Island Historical Society. He was one of the earliest members and first officers of that society, organized in 1822. In 1800 he was chosen a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. A sketch of his "Life and Services" by William E. Foster, is printed, pages 11-134 of. vii. of the Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society (1885), his "Materials for a History of Rhode Island" being printed pages 67-94 of the same volume. He was educated at the public school and by private instructors, fitted for college and was graduated at Brown university (then called R. I. college) ; m. Lydia Fenner of Providence, R. I., dau. of Rev. Noah Millard of R. I., and Hannah Bowen). He was a lawyer at Providence. He was elected a justice of the peace for the town and county of Providence at the general State election in 1773, and was town clerk for twelve years (1775-87), and was in 1776 a member of the State Legislature. In 1787 he was elected a member of the Governor's council and was for thirteen years U. S. Senator (1790-1803). "He was a thoroughly unselfish man, and had literary tastes, personal friendships, and a love of nature which were far dearer to him than pecuniary gain." In personal appearance he was dignified and prepossessing and in stature above the average height. His face which was full and round, beamed with benignity and intelligence. He had a light complexion and blue eyes. His wife Esther Millard d. Dec. 29, 1815, aet. 30. riv. Noah Millard, b. at Rehoboth, Mass., Oct. 10, 1758, was the son of Noah Millard and Jane Maxwell. He was a "Six Principle Baptist." He preached without ordination at Foster R. I. (a town incorporated in 1781 and named in honor of the Hon. Theodore Foster) for some 10 years (1795-1805). In April, 1805, he removed to Burrillville, R. I. where he was ordained, Oct. 15, 1806, and preached until his death, Oct. 25, 1834. He had 5 children: Hannah, Samuel, Esther Bowen, Theodore Foster and Arthur Lemuel. Mr. Foster was a lover of the study of antiquities, particularly American and made considerable collection toward a history of Rhode Island, which he planned, but from habits of procrastination never executed. In the preface of his life of Roger Williams, Knowles used what he found advantageous to his purpose among Mr. Foster's papers. He died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Stephen Tillinghast. He d. Jan. 13, 1828. Res., Providence, R. I.--Pierce, Foster Genealogy, p. 212-213. _________________________
FOSTER, Theodore (brother of Dwight Foster), a Senator from Rhode Island; born in Brookfield, Worcester County, Mass., April 29, 1752; pursued classical studies and was graduated from Rhode Island College (now Brown University), Providence, R.I., in 1770; studied law; was admitted to the bar about 1771 and commenced practice in Providence, R.I.; town clerk of Providence 1775-1787; member of the State house of representatives 1776-1782; appointed judge of the court of admiralty in May 1785; elected as a Law and Order candidate to the United States Senate in 1790; reelected in 1791 and again in 1797 and served from June 7, 1790, to March 3, 1803; was not a candidate for reelection in 1802; retired from public life and engaged in writing and historical research; again a member of the State house of representatives 1812-1816; trustee of Brown University 1794-1822; died in Providence, r. I., January 13, 1828; interment in Swan Point Cemetery. -- Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1949. U.S. GPO, 1950. ______________________________________________________
From HISTORY OF THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, 1878. FOSTER is a considerable post township, and situated on the extreme western border of the State, some fifteen miles from the city of Providence. Foster was incorporated with Scituate in 1730, from the western section of that township, and remained up to 1781, when it was set off as a distinct and separate township. It derived its name, Foster, from the Hon. Theodore Foster, for many years a United States senator; and for this mark of esteem upon the part of the citizens of the town, Mr. Foster presented the town with a library. Some of the books are still preserved, and especially one in which was written the early records of the town, and is now in the possession of the town clerk. MOUNT HYGEIA--The settlement of this celebrated spot was begun by two of the most learned and distinguished men in the history of the town of Foster, if not in the State. Theodore Foster and Solomon Drowne are names that are intimately connected with the history of Foster, and occupy a prominent and honorable place in the historical record of their native State. The following interesting sketch of the early life and settlement of these distinguished personages, at what is familiarly known as "Mount Hygeia," was kindly furnished by the Hon. Amos Perry of Providence. Among the prominent men whose names are enrolled on the records of the town, Senator Theodore Foster, after whom the town was named, and Dr. Solomon Drowne, the eminent botanist, unquestionably hold a first place. Therefore, without disparagement to other worthy residents of that rural distict, we shall offer a brief paragraph, to recall the images and preserve the memory of these two men, "par nobile fratrum," who represent types of character that well-nigh belong to the lost arts. The friendship of these men was formed and cemented in boyhood's days. Foster came from Brookfield, Mass., while yet in his teens; graduated at Rhode Island College in 1770; and Drowne graduated three years later. The boys roomed, studied, and took their meals together, in the old Drowne mansion, on Cehapside, Providence; worshipped together in the old First Baptist Church; had each other's company in visiting favorite sylvan retreats and exploring the forests for miles around, and had longer and more intimate relations than ordinarily fall to the lot of college classmates. Writings and traditions are still preserved that give an idea of the visions and romantic schemes of these youthful students. Science, philosophy, and belles-lettres were their delight, and in order to indulge their taste for these pursuits, they agreed to withdraw, as soon as circumstances would permit, from places frequented by the multitude, and take up their abode on adjoining farms, where they could have each other's society and pass their days in rural retirement. This cherished plan was, however, for a long time frustrated by the force of circumstances, and seemed to be forgotten. Indeed, nearly aquarter of a century elapsed with only occasional and hurried meetings. Foster, besides contracting a matrimonial alliance with a sister of the late Governor James Fenner, studied and practiced law in Providence; was town clerk twelve years; was drawn into the exciting life of a politician, and in 1790 was made a United States senator, which office he held till 1803. Drowne studied and practiced medicine; married the lady of his choice, Miss Elizabeth Russell of Boston; served as a surgeon in the Revolutionary war; spent considerable time in foreign travel and study, and, like General Varnum and Admiral Whipple, acted as a pioneer in the settlement of the West. In the summer of 1800, while Mr. Foster was still a member of the Senate, these quondam room-mates and cherished friends met in Providence. They were somewhat changed by the discipline of life, yet in heart and soul seemed to each other as in boyhood's days. Amid their hard encounters with the outward world, they had maintained their loyalty to truth and duty, and sustained their interest in the pursuits which were the delight of their youth. Shortly before this meeting, Mr. Foster, who had been bereft of the companion of his joys and sorrows, wrote Dr. Drowne several letters, in some of which he referred in touching terms to his affliction and to his future prospects. The latter, acting the part of a good physician, sought to amuse and sooth his friend, and recommended in the most felicitous terms, religion, philosophy, science, literture, and finally, a second matrimonial alliance. In the following extract from a letter dated May 2, 1800, the doctor shows a keen appreciation of the senator's needs, and indicates in no ambiguous terms the step that should be taken: "Who, at your time of life," says the doctor, "could think of passing the remainder of his years without a partner of his joys and cares, when qualified so peculiarly to reciprocate domestic felicity?" The doctor then proceeds to discuss the matrimonial question, and in his remaks brings in a case where there is a great disparity of years. A week later, the doctor made the following manifest effort to divert his friend and draw him into the filed of philosophy: DR. DROWNE TO SENATOR FOSTER "Your very agreeable letter of the 2d instant was received by me this beautiful morning, and I could not but consider it a confirmation of the congeniality of our minds; for while I lay awake last night, my imagination was roving amid the wonders of creation. Among the wild fancies in which I indulged, one was, how this wonderful structure, the terraqueous globe, would appear to a person entirely detached from it, and contemplating it unsupported by any visible power, wheeling majestically through the vast expanse of heaven. I was next led to admire the surprising faculties and capacities of the human mind, so fitted to embrace sublime ideas, and to range, I had almost said, beyond creation's bourne. Of what an astonishingly projecting genius is man possessed! He has not hesitated as at Panama. Thus, if he could not create, he has dared to think of altering and improving the formation of a globe. Surely, thought I, that principle in man which can contemplate and project such mighty things must participate of immortality. But perhaps, at best, I must come to your conclusion--Guesswork, all!"
More About Theodore Foster and Lydia Fenner: Marriage: 27 Oct 1771
More About Theodore Foster and Esther Bowen Millard: Marriage: 30 Jul 1803