Biography of Sterling J. Foster

Dr. Sterling J. Foster. – The Foster family is of Norman-French descent, and after the conquest of England members of it remained in that country for centuries, and many still reside there. Of those who emigrated from Albion to America in the colonial days of the latter, was the paternal ancestor of Arthur Foster, who was, born in Halifax County, Va., was reared a planter, and fought for American independence under Gen. Nathanael Greene, taking part at the Cowpens. He subsequently moved to Georgia, where he met and married, for his second wife, Miss Hannah Johnson, in all probability, a native of South Carolina. To the first marriage there had been born one child, while to the second union, fifteen children resulted, the youngest of whom vas the gentleman whose name heads this sketch, and who was born in Greene County, Ga., in 1822, and, with two sisters, is the only survivor of the family. Three of the boys were prominent lawyers in their day, and two were equally prominent as physicians. Col. Nathanael Greene Foster, one of the three lawyers, was also a member of congress from Georgia, prior to the late civil war. Dr. Sterling J. Foster, at the age of twelve years, left the old home-stead to enter a boarding school; later, he attended and graduated from Oglethorpe University, Georgia, and still later, read medicine with his brother, Dr. J. Foster; in 1842-43, he attended the old university at Philadelphia, and in 1844, graduated from the Transylvania university at Lexington, Ky. His first practice was for a few years at Ellerslie, Ga., whence he removed to Putnam county, Ga., and in 1852, to Union Springs, Ala., when that thriving town was a mere hamlet. Here he was a most successful practitioner until a few years before the late war, when he engaged in merchandising, which claimed his attention until 1888, when he built the Union Springs oil-mill, of which he is still the principal owner and operator, in connection with his extensive planting interests. The doctor was married, in 1850, to Miss Virginia C., daughter of Abraham A. and Harriet (Magruder) Heard, and, a native of Georgia. This congenial union has resulted in the birth of ten children, four of whom still survive, viz.: Hon. Robert M., who graduated from Davidson college, N. C., where his literary education was had, and, later, graduated in law at St. Louis, Mo., where he is one of the brightest lights at her bar: he has also served his district in the state legislature. The next in order of birth is the Rev. Sterling J., Jr., a Presbyterian minister, who graduated with honors from Clarksville, Tenn., then passed a year at Hampden-Sidney college, Va., and in 1892, graduated in theology from Princeton, (N. J.) university. The third child surviving is Hugh, who is now at the home of his parents, and the fourth is Virginia May, who graduated from Staunton, Va., in the classics, and from Baltimore, Md., in music. There are very few persons in Union Springs that can claim as long a residence there as Dr. Foster. He has led a useful and industrious life and has amassed an ample fortune as his reward. He bas always been fond of sport and yet takes great pleasure in bird hunting, etc., in which he has few superiors.


Memorial record of Alabama : a concise account of the state’s political, military, professional and industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people.. Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893.

1 thought on “Biography of Sterling J. Foster”

  1. Thank you Alabama genealogy. This was a lovely account of Dr. Foster and his family. I use to live in Union Springs, Ala. and worked at the hospital there for over twelve years before retiring. I love the history of Union Springs and got to know many of it’s residents while I lived there. I am enjoying your post today very much.
    Thank you, Syble Cranford retired LPN.

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