My great-great-great-grandmother, Mary A. King Foster, and I share a birthday; according to her headstone, she was born June 22, 1813, 127 years before me. I know very little about about her. Mostly what I have learned came from two census records (1860 and 1870) and her headstone. On a trip to Alabama in 2010, we found the ordination record for her husband Anthony Foster showing he was ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church in January 1853 while they resided in Blount County, Alabama. I also found a land map that showed the location of their farm acreage in Blount County. Of course, neither of those records listed her name but her status as wife allowed to me assume her residence in that location as well as to infer a religious background. The headstone is placed at Mount Vernon Methodist Church Cemetery in Fayette County, Alabama, which would also support the inference of her religious affiliation.
Although her marriage date is given on her headstone, I have not found a marriage record to support that information. It would appear to be a reasonable date since their oldest child was born in 1835.
Very little information is provided in either the 1860 or 1870 census records, particularly for a non head of household. Although there are names of children listed in the household, no relationships are noted so one can only assume they may be children of the two adults enumerated together. The Blount County, Alabama 1860 census lists Mary Foster (44) born in Alabama while the Fayette County, Alabama 1870 census lists M.M. Foster (55) born in South Carolina.
Mary’s headstone lists her death date as December 8, 1872. That had been totally confusing because there was a marriage record for Anthony E. Foster and Mrs. Louisa Edwards for November 28, 1872, ten days before she died. I finally found an obituary for Mary that solved the problem. Her obituary appeared in the February 17, 1872 issue [ten months before Anthony remarried] of the Nashville Christian Advocate, a periodical for the Methodist church. Although quite short, it did provide some information I did not have, including a death date; it said, “MARY FOSTER d/o James and Rachel King; w/o Rev. Anthony Foster, born Spartanburg Dist., S.C. 1815; died near Fayette Court House, Ala. Dec. 8, 1871; mother of twelve children.”
Although the birth year is given as 1815, in handwriting, many times a ‘5’ and a ‘3’ can be difficult to determine; consequently, the date on her headstone may or may not be correct. With census records almost always showing great diversity in ages from decade to decade, the 1860 and 1870 ages of 44 and 55, might indicate the 1815 date as more supportable.
I have as yet been unable to locate information on her parents although, thanks to the obituary, I now have their names. From the two census records and reports of Bible records of births, I also have the names of all twelve of her children.
Combining information from the records I have thus far, I now assume Mary was born in the Spartanburg District of South Carolina on June 22, 1815 and died in Fayette County, Alabama on December 8, 1871 having lived only 56 years but as the mother of 12 children and grandmother to many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.