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Title Papers [manuscript]: 1835-1841
Author Foster, J. Edwards (fl.1835-1841)
Document Type Correspondence; Manuscript
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Letter from Foster in the Wisconsin Territory to an unknown recipient, probably from around 1841; and a sheet containing a list of the books in Foster’s library in 1835, and an added list of Winnebago chiefs and braves. Foster’s letter mentions his former residence "aboard the steamboat," and his earlier adventures travelling the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. He goes on to describe a surveying expedition he conducted west of the Wisconsin River, during which he locates a fine marble quarry 25 miles above Helena, west of the beautiful Prairie du Sac, and scouts out good locations for prospective settlers. Upon his return, he works in a shot factory for a while, although he points out the health hazards of working with lead. Of special interest is his detailed personal account of a Winnebago Indian feast at which he is a guest. He describes their wigwams, food, manner of cooking, and clothes, and relates the stories he hears from them concerning the early French traders, battles with their enemies, the Sauks, Sacs, and Foxes, and relations with the government over land and treaties. He also describes how the government troops, led by General Dodge, forced the Indians to move to a new home, and the beauty of the land they left behind. Foster starts a new sentence, as if to continue, then stops mid-page with his initials J.F. The list of books bears the caption "Books comprising library of 1835; such as are crossed are in Wisconsin," and is signed "J. Edwards Foster." He includes such titles as "Browns Geology," "Websters Dictionary," "Robinson Crusoe 2 vols.," and "Universal School Atlas." Verso contains Foster’s list of Winnebago chiefs and braves, added later, probably around 1841. It is arranged in two columns, with each Winnebago name followed by an English translation.
Places Mississippi River, Misouri River, Wisconsin River, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, United States
Keywords personal account, observation, literature, chief, travel, survey, expedition, white settlers, settlement, health, custom, ceremony, dress, trade, France, battle, government relations, treaty, removal, pioneer
Theme Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters; American Indians and the US Government
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Northeast
Additional Information Foster was a nineteenth-century American traveller, pioneer, and surveyor. A native of Bosford, Massachusetts, he travelled to the Wisconsin Territory in July 1839, where he remained until January 1842.
Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT box Ayer MS 3223
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue