Friday, September 19, 2008

Richard Oscar Forster

Richard Oscar Forster, also known as “Oscar Foster,” was born October 19, 1837, in Harbor Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Bartholomew “Forster” (b. 1803) and Sarah (Bone, b. 1811).

Canadian-born John B. married Pennsylvania native Sarah sometime before 1829, probably in Pennsylvania (according to a family historian she was the daughter of the Erie Land lighthouse keeper). They were living in Mill Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1830 and in Harbor Creek, Erie County in 1840. They eventually moved west and by 1846 had settled in Michigan (quite probably Ottawa County). By 1850 John B. had settled his family in Tallmadge, Ottawa County where Richard, known generally as “Oscar,” attended school.

Oscar’s mother died in the early 1850s and John married Ellen Berritt (b. 1828) in September of 1854 in Ottawa County. By the fall of 1860 Oscar was living with his older brother John in Allendale, Ottawa County. (Oscar’s brother John was married to the sister of Samuel and Aaron Camp, both of whom also resided in Ottawa County and would enlist in Company I in 1861.)

Oscar stood 6’1” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 23 years old and living in Ottawa County, possibly Blendon, when he enlisted as Seventh Corporal in Company I on May 13, 1861. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.) He was possibly wounded slightly on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, but soon rejoined the Regiment.

Anyway, he was wounded on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, this time severely. He was subsequently sent to Carver hospital in Washington, DC, and discharged on March 13, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia for “gunshot wound in the lumbar region” which he received at Fair Oaks. “The ball entering just anterior to the angle of the eleventh rib passing obliquely downwards and backwards lodging just below and to the right of the sacrum slivering the spineris [?] procus of the third lumbar vertebra.” It was also reported that hjis discharge resulted from disability caused by a second gunshot wound, “the ball entering at the left of the anus cutting the rectum in its course and lodging posterior to the joint.”

After his discharge from the army Oscar returned home to western Michigan. “Corporal Oscar Foster [sic],” wrote the Grand Rapids Eagle on April 15, the “Corporal of the Color Guard of the Third, has just returned home discharged for disability. Corporal Foster was wounded at Fair Oaks, and wounded twice at the last [Second] Bull Run battle, and his wounds have compelled him to leave the service where he has so honorably borne himself.”

Oscar reentered the service as Sergeant in Company C, Tenth Michigan cavalry on October 31 (?), 1863, at Blendon, Ottawa County, crediting Blendon, and was mustered on October 23 (?), at Grand Rapids. (Oscar was enlisted by Benjamin Weatherwax, brother of George Weatherwax who had been the first Captain of Company I, Third Michigan infantry and under whom Oscar had served in 1861.)

The Tenth Michigan Cavalry was organized at Grand Rapids between September 18 and November 18, 1863, when it was mustered into service. It left Michigan for Lexington, Kentucky on December 1, 1863, and participated in numerous operations, mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee throughout the winter of 1863-64. Most of its primary area of operations would eventually be in the vicinity of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. Oscar was mustered out as Commissary Sergeant on November 11, 1865, at Memphis, Tennessee.

After the war Oscar returned to his home in western Michigan.

He married Michigan native Ellen Lucretia Brooks (b. 1847) on October 11, 1868 in Grandville, Kent County, and they had at least four and perhaps five children: Oscar, Edgar W. (b. 1871) Guy W. (b. 1874) and Fern, and possibly Roy.

By 1870 Oscar was working as a day laborer and living with his wife in Prairieville, Wyoming Township, Kent County. By 1880 Oscar was working as a laborer and living with his wife and children in Cato, Montcalm County.

In 1883 he was living in Stanton, Montcalm County drawing $4.00 per month for a gunshot wound to the back and left hip and right leg (pension no. 1,700).

By 1897 he had moved to Grand Rapids and at some point resided at 320 Butterworth Avenue; he was living at 216 Indiana Street when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and his son Roy was an honorary member of the association. At one time he was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids.

Oscar may have moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, but by 1911 he was back in Grand Rapids living at 216 Diamond in 1911, 461 Fuller in 1916, 1815 Turner in 1917, and 2209 Palace in 1919 and in June of 1922.

Oscar died on November 30, 1922, in either Grand Rapids or in Stanton, Montcalm County and was reportedly buried in Blendon, Ottawa County or perhaps in Forest Hill cemetery in Stanton.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This is my Great-Great Grandfather and he is indeed buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Stanton. He has two headstones, one donated by the G.A.R.
He did pass in Grand Rapids.
Thank you very much for this entry as you have provided details I had not found in 25 years of research!