Sarah Mabel (Fryer) Foster, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Sarah Mabel (Fryer) Foster


Mrs. Foster, known more commonly as Grandma Foster to even more people than her 19 grandchildren and at least 25 great-grandchildren, has roots that go back to 1856 in Porter County. Her grandparents, Robert Morrow Fryar and Sarah (Harris) Fryar were both born on June 17, 1833, in County Dorone, Ireland. In 1852 they emigrated, arriving in New York, From there they came westward, spending some time in Philadelphia and the state of Ohio. Continuing to press toward the frontier, their covered wagon carried them to Valparaiso in 1856. Their baby died of a fever during their stop here, and rather than have to think of their little one in a strange place resting in an untended grave, they determined to settle here. In 1862, the Union Army called her grandfather to defend his adopted country. He enlisted in the 73rd Indiana Infantry and served for three years, seeing action in several famous battles. In the "Battle Above The Clouds" at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, he was captured and suffered many hardships as a prisoner of the Confederacy. When the war ended, he returned to Valparaiso. In 1869 they purchased a farm in Porter County. They worked it until 1890, when they retired to a house in Valparaiso. It was known as the "House of Seven Gables" and was then on Greenwich Street. After their deaths, it was moved to its present location on Garfield Street. Their living children were William, Dallas, Nancy, Joseph, and Emma. Dallas was the father of Sarah Mabel, born in May 1893.

She and her three sisters were all school teachers. Her brothers had a variety of vocations. She was trained at Valparaiso University in 1911 and taught school for four years. In 1915 she married Ernest Foster. He had been born in Oakwood, Illinois in 1883. His family moved to northwest Indiana in 1904. In his youth he was strong as an ox, known around the area as a fun-loving young man who went to fairs to beat the traveling wrestlers and take home a prize. He was not above dropping a pinch of "itching powder" down a few open collars to entertain his friends'. Never a drinker or brawler, his conversion to Christianity and subsequent irreproachable behavior as a husband, father, and leader of the Church of Christ was more or less a natural result of his honesty and energy when his attention was turned to the Bible. They settled on a farm and reared their family -- Dallas, Lloyd, Kenneth, Betty, and Annabel -- in Morgan Township.

After retiring from farming, they moved to Valparaiso and worked for the University. Later they took full retirement and lived north of town.

Now, as a widow, Grandma Foster lives with her daughter and son-in-law, Annabel and Harold Ailes in Morgan Township.

Mrs. Foster was a Charter Member of the Homemakers Club and is a member of the Church of Christ.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 107

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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