Monday, September 21, 2015

J L Hays and W F Foster, Civil War soldiers

Lawrenceville Republican August 8, 1907 Capt. JL Hayes, A Former Citizen of This County, Writes an Interesting Letter

Howard, Kansas July 17, 1907
Fifty-four years ago July, 1854, my father, Dr. Samuel Hays, moved his family through 
Lawrenceville and located in the Denison neighborhood. Lawrenceville was the first Illinois town I had seen while living on the old Dr. Flanders farm. Lawrenceville was our trading point. It was then said to be one of the oldest and best towns in Illinois. I got the impression that it was quite a large town but as I recollect the buildings and streets I presume it contained between 500 and 600 inhabitants. There was a Dr. Hayes living there at that time. I have a recollection of seeing him. My father traded principally with an old grocer, a native of Poland. I remember his physiognomy and his intense hatred of the Russians, but have long since forgotten his name. I remember Mr. Wise, who kept a dry goods store, Judge Shaw, Isaac Potts, old Mr. Lewis, and later remember the Whitaker's, McClones and others. In 1856 Father moved to the then new town of Bridgeport, where my mother died in 1860. Father died there in 1893 at the age of 81 years.

In 1861 I enlisted in what is known as Company I, 66 Illinois volunteers, Western Sharpshooters. 
This company was made up of volunteers from Lawrence, Wabash and Edwards counties and a few from elsewhere. During the war there were near 200 men who were or had been members of our company. Lawrenceville had, to its credit, perhaps a dozen representatives in our company, some of whom were killed in battle, some died of Army diseases and many, I hope, are yet alive.

The writer was first in the ranks as a private soldier, then through good luck perhaps and  the misfortune of others, I was promoted to second lieutenant, and eventually to the rank of captain. After reaching Savannah in the March to the Sea I was mustered out on 20 December 1864. After the war I studied medicine and graduated as an M.D. I practiced at Paris, Illinois from ‘71 till ‘85; moved to Kansas in that year; practiced in Wichita from ‘85 till 1894, when I came to Howard, Elk County.

I am now just past the 70th mile tone. They say “I don't look  nor act it  and I'll declare I don't feel it.”  I think however a man's becoming old while still young depends on several factors. A young man to keep young should first have a good Constitution, a gift of heredity; second, he should have a good conscience and happy disposition, a result of correct industrious habits; third, he should keep clean bodily or physically and morally.

Someone sent to my address a few days ago the Lawrenceville Republican. In scanning its pages I came across the name of Col. WF Foster. I wonder if that is the same Bill Foster who was a member of old Company I, but where did he get that Col.? I am not questioning his right to have or wear it for Billy Foster was a good honest soldier.  I can testify that he never killed a pig nor robbed the hen roost during the whole war without he did it after night, at any rate he was never court-martialed nor in the guardhouse for such an offense. Now Billy, if that's you, le’ts shake. Remember I am just setting you right on your war record.  You may need this if you run for Congress.

I should like to meet the remaining members of our old company and perhaps I can do so at some future time after I get old and past work, but Kansas is such a delightful place to live, it is difficult for a man to get away after he becomes acclimated.


Ed Note:  Capt. Hayes continues extolling the virtues of Kansas and concludes by saying “the lawyers are leaving the state for lack of business and the preachers are contemplating an experimental heaven to be inaugurated on the beautiful confines of Kansas.” 

Obituary for Col W F Foster: Obit, Lawrenceville Republican, 7/7/1910: Col W F Foster Passes Away at His Home Here Saturday. …for several months he has been failing and for the past two months very fast. Bright’ s disease was the malady that took him out of the condition of good health. He was born in Clark County, Indiana May 3, 1840. His father Wm Foster was from Yorkshire, England and his mother Lucy Shirley from Kentucky. He married Miss Lucy Y Denny at Charleston, Indiana on June 20, 1865. Six children were born to them-two sons J D and T W who live here and 4 daughters Mrs Hattie Hileman, Misses Dot and Dora of this city and Mrs Sadie Blackford of Mounds, Louisiana.   The wife preceded him to the great beyond on June 18, 1890. …transferred his membership to the Presbyterian church of this city in which he was an active trustee at death at the advanced age of 70 years 1 month and 29 days. …enlisted in the Union Army at Bridgeport at the age of 21 years in Co I 66th Ill Vol Inf. Nov 22, 1861. He was in the battles of Ft Donelson, Shiloh and several of the skirmishes connected with the siege of Corinth. Later in the campaign against Atlanta, Ga he took part in the engagements of Resaca, Rome Lane Roads, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain and the siege of Atlanta. He was mustered out Nov 26, 1864.  In the profession of law, he gained his education by hard, studious application…having attended school but six months.He wa admitted to the bar in Missouri May 8, 1876 and in Ill Jan 22, 1879, locating in Albion, Ill and later tn this city.

Ed Note:  We have a photograph of W F Foster in the museum on our wall of Civil War soldiers...If you haven't been in to see if your ancestor's picture is on the wall, please stop by on Mondays from 10-3.