April 2, 1861 VILLAGE RECORD

Biography Rev. WILLIAM FOSTER, was born in Little Britain township, Lancaster county, in 1740. He was a son of Alexander Foster, who had emigrated from the north of Ireland, and settled in that township. He graduated at the College of New Jersey, in 1764, having as his contemporaries in that institution, David Ramsey, the historian; Judge Jacob Rush, Oliver Ellsworth, Nathaniel Niles and Luther Martin. He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Castle, April 23d, 1767, and was installed Pastor of Upper Otorara Church, October 19, 1768. He also, about the same time, became Pastor of the Doe Run Presbyterian church, on the Strasburg road, in East Fallowfield township, where he preached one fourth of his time. He married Hannah, a daughter of Rev. Samuel Blair, of FaggManor, and owned and resided on the farm, now belonging to William Parke, a short distance east of Upper Octorara church. This farm he purchased December 15, 1770. In the Revolution, he engaged heartily in the cause of liberty, and encouraged all who heard him to do their utmost in defence of their rights. On one occasion he went to Lancaster, to preach to troops collected there previous to their joining the main army. The discourse was so acceptable that it was printed and circulated, and did much to arouse the spirit of patriotism among the people. (See notice of JOSEPH McCLELLANN No. XXIII, of these Notes.) Indeed, nearly all of the Presbyterian clergymen in this State, at that time, were staunch Whigs, and contributed greatly to keep alive the flame of liberty, which our disasters had frequently caused to be well nigh extinguished, in the long and unequal contest; and but for them, it would often have been impossible to obtain recruits, to keep up the forces requisite to oppose the enemy. It was a great object with the British officers, to silence the Presbyterian preachers as far as possible, and they frequently despatched parties into the country to surprise and take prisoners unsuspecting clergymen. An expedition of this kind was planned against Mr. Foster. The British were in possession of Wilmington, Delaware, and sent a party of light horse from thence one Sunday evening, to take him prisoner, and burn his church. Mr. Foster received word of it, on the morning of that day at Doe Run, and hastening home, collected his neighbors, who removed his family and library to a house remote from the public road. The expedition, after proceeding twelve miles on their way, were informed by a tory, that their purposes were known, and that parties of militia were stationed to intercept them, and they returned to Wilmington without accomplishing their object. Mr. Foster died, September 30, 1780. He had a high standing as a minister, and was held in much estimation by his congregation. They procured a tomb stone to be erected over his remains in Upper Octorara burial ground. He occasionally received under his care theological students. The Rev. Nathaniel W. Sampple, who was the esteemed pastor of churches in Lancaster county for 40 years, was one of his students. After his death, his family continued for a time to reside on his farm already referred to. It was sold by his widow, September 9, 1790, to Joseph Parke, Esq., and the family removed to Western Pennsylvania. Hon. Henry D. Foster, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, in 1860, is a grandson. He is the son of Samuel B. Foster, the eldest son of Rev. William Foster. Mr. Foster was succeeded as Pastor of Upper Octorara and Doe Run, by Rev. ALEXANDER MITCHELL, who was born in 1731, graduated at the college of New Jersey, in 1765, was licensed in 1767, and was installed at Octorara, December 14th, 1785. He had formerly resided in Bucks county, and came from thence to Chester county. He was Pastor of Octorara until April 6th, 1796, when his connection with the church was dissolved. During the last of his time, troubles arose in the congregation, which continued for several years. He died December 6th, 1812, at the age of eighty one years, and was buried at Upper Octorara. He left no descendants. The Doe Run church, to which Mr. Foster and Mr. Mitchell had ministered one fourth of their time, was made a distinct congregation in 1798. From 1796 to 1810, the Upper Octorara church was without a regular pastor, and received supplies from Presbytery. September 25th, 1810, a call was presented to Rev. JAMES LATTA, which he accepted. He had been licensed at New London, December 12th, 1809, and was ordained and installed Pastor of Octorara, April 2d, 1811. He maintained that relation until October 1850, a period of forty years - when he resigned. J.S.F. [NOTAE CESTRIENSES]


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