The Foster family was well-known family in Knickerbocker, Texas. They were distinguished citizens of Tom Green County with their roots in the “Bonny Sunny South”. Eugene was born in 1874, the son of Confederate Capt. K. R. and Malissa Mayo “Miss Lissia” Foster of Chattooga County, Georgia. He was one of 14 children born on a large cotton plantation in the Northwest Georgia Mountains, several years after the Civil War. He was baptized into the Methodist faith.
Papa Foster (as he was affectionately known by his grandchildren) came to Texas evading the love of an older woman. This love-sick youth, had his heart set on marrying her. She was 32 and he was 19. He went to Captain and Mrs. Foster and asked for their approval of the marriage. Captain Foster, somewhat hesitant replied,” Go out west young man! I have some land on the Concho and I need someone to oversee it. If you still love her after six months, you have my blessing. Then, you may return home and marry her. ”
His father had traded land on the banks of the Concho River (bought sight unseen) outside San Angelo, Texas for a vineyard in Georgia. The deed is dated 1895.
Eugene was a part of the movement of settlers, who had picked up and, “Gone to Texas (GTT)!” Eugene arrived in Tom Green County, Texas with 75 cents in his pocket. He went to work clearing land starting with a job where he cleared 10 acres for $10.00 it took him 31 days. He recalls this as the hardest work he had ever done in his life! “His affection for his first love “vanished like a morning mist,” these were the words of his older sister Miss Carrie Adeline, who wrote about her beloved brother in her memoirs.
Eugene met a young schoolteacher in the area. Being quite taken with her, he relocated to Knickerbocker, Texas. He sold his land along the banks of the Concho and began to court Miss Bessie Arthur. She was a southerner like himself and they shared many interests. Miss Bessie was a redheaded southern belle from Alabama. She recalled, in a piece the San Angelo Standard Times did on early pioneers: “The first time I saw him,” she said,” That he was the ugliest man I ever saw!” The native Georgian, Foster proposed to her on a bridge over Dove Creek in Knickerbocker, Texas.
He must have won her heart. She accepted his proposal and they set out to make a home. She entered a contest by West Texas Utilities Co., in San Angelo, Texas. She later won the title “Best biscuit maker in Tom Green.” They began farming, ranching and ran a dairy. He later spoke of land being sold for between 75 cents to $1.50 per acre in the Knickerbocker area. (His daughter-in-law, Grace Foster noted in her memoirs, that a good buffalo hunter could kill 50 head in one day-each hide selling for $1.00 each).
The Foster Family bought approx. 900 acres in Knickerbocker, Texas. This gives you a little taste of the “Land fever” most Southerners had for TX.
The sweet southern girl he married was the daughter of Stephen Dexter Arthur (CSA). He was rancher and known for driving a herd of 100 Longhorns to Knickerbocker from Falls County, Texas. Feeding them cottonseed along the way, he found out it would grow well in this area. He raised the first bale of cotton in these parts. Eugene & Bessie were pioneers in Tom Green County, Texas. Rev. Thomas Gregory married them on August 30, 1896. Rev. Gregory came out in a livery rig to perform the rites of matrimony.
Eugene served as Sunday School Supt. in the Knickerbocker Church for 40 yrs. Foster Park is named in honor of him. He was County Commissioner of Precinct 4 from 1924 until 1944, with the exception of years 1935-36. During his tenure in office, he helped to build the new Tom Green County Courthouse, County Library, Oaks Street Bridge, Seven Mile Bridge, most of the hard surfaced roads in the county and the paved streets in Christoval. He was a member of the county school board for many years and served as a trustee in his own district for a long period. He was a member of the Methodist Church since the age of 12 and a member and officer of various agricultural organizations. Foster was also instrumental in building the Knickerbocker Community Church. He was a loving and devoted father and husband who walked in the Christian faith.
This couple had three children: Ernest E., Fannie, and Arthur Rambo Foster.
This information was compiled from various newspaper articles, family memoirs, and his eulogy. His great-great-granddaughter, Michelle K. Doss of Tom Green County, Texas, provided this information on 8 Jan 2001.