A native of Maine, Philip Foster was born at or near the town of Argyle in 1805, the son of William and Lucy (Spencer) Foster. In 1832 he married Fanny Cummins (or Cummings) and the couple had one son. Mrs. Foster died in 1829, probably in childbirth, and Foster re-married in 1837. His second wife was Mary Charlotte Pettygrove, the sister of Francis Pettygrove, with whom Foster had entered a business partnership in Calais, Maine. Pettygrove later pursuaded Foster to join him in a venture that would take them both to the Oregon Country.
In March of 1842 the Foster and Pettygrove families sailed from New York City to the Pacific on the ship Victoria. After six months in Hawaii they sailed to Oregon in April of 1843 on the Fama. Settling for a time at Willamette Falls (later Oregon City), Foster established a general store there and later built a flour mill in partnership with Walter Pomeroy. Meanwhile his former partner, Francis Pettygrove, purchased a portion of a new townsite up-river that would later become Portland. Foster eventually purchased a half-interest in a 640 acre land claim situated on the Clackamas River at the mouth of Eagle Creek. He also served as treasurer of the Oregon provisional government from July 1844 to July 1845 and was a partner in the Willamette Cattle Company. At the end of 1845 he joined with Samuel K. Barlow to construct and maintain a road for overland emigrants, known as the Barlow Road. Foster's farm at Eagle Creek became a stopping point and supply depot for many of the migrant wagon trains that travelled this route.
In his later years, Philip Foster served as postmaster at Eagle Creek, Oregon (1867-1874) and was involved in local school district affairs. He continued farming and stock raising on his Eagle Creek claim until his death in 1884.
The collection includes: correspondence, records, documents, poll books, accounts, business agreements, legal papers, bills and receipts, newspaper clippings, and genealogical notes. Materials relate to the Columbia River-Hawaii trade; a general store in Oregon City; the firm of Foster & Pomeroy; the Willamette Cattle Company; the Barlow Road; the Eagle Creek mill, the provisional government of the Oregon Territory; the estate of Lot Whitcomb; and Clackamas School District number 17. Also included are correspondence and business papers (1832-1839) from Maine (Calais, Tallmadge Township, and Argyle), F. W. Pettygrove & Company store accounts in Calais, Maine, and Galveston, Texas; and a book titled Sketches of the town of Old Town, Penobscot County, Maine, from its earliest settlement, to 1879 by David Norton.
Correspondents include: Forbes Barclay, William Barlow, Francis Norbert Blanchet, John N. Colcord, George Law Curry, Francis Ermatinger, Overton Johnson, Joseph Lane, John McLoughlin, Joseph McLoughlin, Howard Maupin, John Hipple Mitchell, Robert Newell, Joel Palmer, Francis Pettygrove, Joseph N. Prescott, and Samuel Royal Thurston.
Portions of the collection are available on Mss Microfilm 996, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library prior to any use of reproductions. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use of reproductions may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright holders.
Philip Foster papers, Mss 996, Oregon Historical Society Research Library
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
Business papers, Maine
Receipts and bills, Maine
Ledger with accounts and other information
Contains accounts for F. W. Pettygrove & Co., Calais, Me., 1837-1840; and Philip Foster's business, Oregon City, 1843-1846. Includes index.
Letters to Philip Foster
Letters from Philip Foster (originals and photocopies)
Unidentified letters, envelopes, poetry, other papers
Account book, possibly of Isaac Foster, brother of Philip Foster
Barlow Road papers
Business accounts, Barlow Road and other concerns
Stray livestock on Barlow Road
Bigilow vs. Moss, Hosted vs. Abernethy, United States vs. W. W. Loving, McLoughlin vs. Durham
Bills and receipts, general
Business and legal documents
Clackamas County School District No. 17 records
David Waldo vs. Administration of the Estate of Ewing Young--Legal papers
Eagle Creek Mill
Eagle Creek Post Office
Eagle Creek Post Office--Ledger
Etoile du Matin (ship)--Legal papers
General store, Oregon City--Accounts receivable
General store, Oregon City--Accounts
Land claim survey documents
Land records, Foster family
Ledger (day book), Maine and Oregon
Contains records for the following firms:
McGruder vs. Vanderpool
Newspaper subsrciption receipts
Oregon provisional, territorial, and state government documents
Pomeroy & Foster account books (3 volumes)
Pomeroy & Foster business papers
Whitcomb, Lot--Estate papers
Willamette Cattle Company records
Original inventory to the Philip Foster papers
|1921-circa 1939; undated|
Sketches of the town of Old Town, Penobscot County, Maine, from its earliest settlement, to 1879Bangor : S. G. Robinson
Norton, David, fl. 1881 (creator)
"They called it Jack-Knife : history of Eagle Creek community and School District No. 17"