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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Genealogical records indicate that the Foster family was identified with Great Britain back to a period where historical accuracy becomes lost in legendary tradition. England was the native country of Stephen Foster and August 23, 1852, the date of his birth. It was in that country also that he received his education, which was limited to the study of the common branches, yet sufficiently thorough to enable him to transact all business matters with accuracy and dispatch. As he grew to manhood he heard much concerning the opportunities offered liy California and as soon as the way became clear for him to do so he migrated to the Pacific coast country, settling first in Sacramento. From that time until his death, which occurred December 8, 1902, at the age of fifty years, he remained a resident of the Sacramento valley, and was a useful, honorable and industrious citizen, belonging to that class of men whose citizenship possesses permanent value to the community with which they identify themselves.

The marriage of Mr. Foster was solemnized June 17, 1886, and united him with Mrs. Kate (McKernan) Donnelly, of Folsom, Cal., the widow of Henry Donnelly, a native of Ireland, but for years a useful citizen of Folsom, where he died in 1877, at the age of forty-eight years. Six children were born to the union of Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly, but only three of these survive. The eldest, James Henry Donnelly, born November 21, 1868, received a common-school education in Folsom and is now serving his third term as representative from the fourth district of Sacramento county on the board of county supervisors, where he has proved most helpful in promoting measures for the permanent upbuilding of his district. The only surviving daughter, Mary Donnelly, is the wife of H. W. Hall, of Sacramento. The younger son, Peter F. Donnelly, still resides in his native village of Folsom, where he is proprietor of an hotel and also holds the office of village constable. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Foster was blessed with two children. The daughter, Pearl F., married Albert Arnold, of Sacramento, and is the mother of one son. Reuben S., who is unmarried, resides with his mother at No. 2125 E street, Sacramento.

The ancestry of Mrs. Foster had headquarters on the Emerald Isle. Her father, the late James McKernan, was a native of Ireland, whence he crossed the ocean to the United States during 1844. He was at the time a stalwart youth, physically robust and capable of long endurance in any task, but entirely without means or friends. After his marriage he remained in the east for some years, but having heard much concerning the vast resources of California he came hither in 1856 to test the opportunities of the new country. In 1858 he was joined by his wife and children, among the latter being Kate, who was born in Paterson, N. J. The mother died at Folsom in 1873 and the father survived until March of 1886.

For over thirty years Mrs. Foster was engaged in the hotel and livery business in Folsom. In 1903 she built the Enterprise Hotel, a large brick building modern in every particular, and the largest and best building in that city. She also built up the Donnelly livery stable, the largest establishment of the kind in the place. All of this she accomplished by her own industry and business ability, building the enterprises up from the profits of the business. She also built many residences in Folsom and it was stated that she erected more buildings there than any other individual. However, in June of 1910 she became a resident of Sacramento, where she has a large circle of friends among the honored pioneers of the city. For years Mr. Foster was an interested worker in the Workmen and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and she also became prominent in Fedora Rebekah Lodge No. 166 of Folsom, of which she is a charter member and a past officer. She contributes liberally to its charitable measures and also aids all movements for the helping of the needy and the relief of the distressed. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011