The Bethel Journals

Enoch Foster, Jr.

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The Fosters of Newry and Bethel

In A History of Newry 1805 to 1955 by Carrie Wight, the author has this to say about the farm where Enoch Foster, Jr., was born and grew up:

“The large set of buildings owned by Postmaster Robert Davis stands on the land believed to have been cleared by Enoch Foster, who built the house in the very early days of Newry.  A son, Orrin, lived here and operated the farm until his death (in 1898).  Then his son Walter carried on for some years. 

Martha Fifield Wilkins detailed the Foster family history which covered Enoch Foster, Jr., in her collection of notes that were  published as the Sunday River Sketches.  The family profile below is based on her research.

Abner Foster, was born in Boxford, Mass., April 23, 1733 ; he came to Newry, Maine; he died June 9, 1819. Abner had married Lydia (Nelson?) who died January 3, 1810, age 76. They had three children: Asa (1765-1831), Abner, and Daniel.

Abner came to Newry and built his home at the north end of (where) Artist Bridge (was built in 1872). The cellar hole depression was still visible during the “author’s time”.  (Martha Fifield Wilkins wrote the Foreword to Sunday River Sketches in 1947 but her observed descriptions of the Sunday River valley are much earlier—1920’s to 1940;  photographs taken by her brother Fred are dated circa 1905.)

Asa Foster , oldest son of Abner and Lydia, was born in Newry in 1765 and he died Sept 29, 1831, age 66, in Newry. He married Anna Bartlett who was daughter of Enoch and Anna Bartlett.  They had thirteen children:  Nathan, Reuben B., Enoch, Eli, Benjamin, Asa, Joel, Silas, Betsy, Annie, Submit, Lydia, and Elhanan Bartlett.  This family lived in the house later occupied by Thomas Jefferson Sargent. (Romeo Baker bought this house in 1953.)

Anna Bartlett’s home was located on the hillside overlooking Sunday River just down stream from where Artist Bridge is located.  The Enoch Bartlett place was reached by turning right immediately after crossing the bridge.  Asa and Anna Foster, are buried in the Sunday River cemetery


Enoch Foster (Sr.) was born in Sunday River , Jan 1, 1799 and died in Bethel, Dec. 26, 1881.  He married (1st) in Newry, in July 1824, Persis Swan who was born 1806 and died April 9, 1859. They had four children:

1. Betsy who was born March 25, 1825 and died Oct. 14, 1879

2. Orrin who was born March 27, 1827 in Bethel, he died in Newry, March, 1898.

3. Beulah Bartlett,  born July 1, 1829

4. Enoch, Jr., born in Newry on May 10, 1839, died in Portland , November 15, 1913.


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Link to Enoch Foster article in Wikipedia    - .  Link to Enoch Foster article in Bethel Historical Society Courier,_Jr___Third_Owner_of_the_Robinson_House.html

Reuben B. Foster and Enoch Foster, Jr.

The Reuben Foster of Waterville was a first cousin of Enoch Foster, Jr.  Asa and Anna Foster’s third child was named Reuben.  Reuben Foster married Sarah Bartlett,  daughter of Stephen Bartlett who had settled in the section of Bethel that later became part of Hanover.  They named their fourth child, Reuben; he was born Feb. 8, 1833.  Lapham wrote this about Enoch Jr.’s, cousin Reuben Foster in a footnote:  “He graduated at Colby University (Waterville), class of 1855, studied law and has since been in the practice of his profession in Waterville. He has served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and as President of the Senate. He is President of the Waterville Savings Bank (1), and was elected the first Mayor of the city (1888). He is a leading businessman in Waterville.”  (Page 533, History of Bethel, Maine)

(1)  The Waterville Savings Bank was chartered in 1869; Reuben Foster was a charter member of the corporation. He was elected president of the bank in 1872 (the same year that the Bethel Savings Bank was chartered) and held that position until  his death in 1898. (History of Waterville. )

Sources and References:   History of Bethel Maine, William B. Lapham, 1891.  Bethel Maine, An Illustrated History, Randall Bennett, 1991.  Sunday River Sketches by Martha Fifield Wilkins edited by Randy L. Bennett.  Oxford Democrat—selected news items 1886 to 1897, The Bethel Journals.

The Foster home is the birthplace of the well known Judge Enoch Foster. The following facts concerning Newry’s outstanding son should prove interesting.

Enoch Foster, Jr., was born in Newry, May 10, 1839, the son of Enoch and Persis Swan Foster. He was educated at Gould Academy, Maine State Seminary, Bowdoin College, and law school at Albany, New York.

He was admitted to the Oxford Bar in 1865 and began practice in Bethel. He was a Civil War veteran, enlisting in 1861, discharged in 1865 as a First Lieutenant.

Judge Foster was recognized as an outstanding attorney.  A member of the State Senate, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Maine. Judge Foster was one of the incorporators of the Bethel Savings Bank in 1872.  For a long time the Bank was in his office near what is now the Bethel library. ( Enoch Foster’s brother Orrin was also one of the 1872 incorporators.)

In Newry Profiles 1805-1980 Paula Wight wrote, in addition to similar information found in Carrie Wight’s history, that when Walter Foster put the farm up for sale it was advertised in the Oxford County Citizen, March 30, 1916, “Well known Foster  farm on Bear River, 400 acres, will carry 30-35 head of stock, orchard 1,000 trees, estimate 2,500 worth of wood and timber, large set of buildings, $4,750 takes all-running Spring water.”


Above: approximate location of the farm where Enoch Foster, Jr., and his brother, Orrin, were born and raised.  Norman and Eleanor Davis live where the Foster farm buildings were at one time.  Norman Davis’s father, Bob, was the last North Newry Postmaster. The Town of Newry Office is located in a former school building named the Raymond Foster School.  Google Earth photo image.

Epilog:  After completing his second term on the Court in 1897, Enoch Foster went into private law practice in Portland.  His property on Broad Street was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. William O. Straw.  Mrs. Straw gave Foster’s law office building and its lot of land to the Bethel Library in 1899.   In 1923, William Bingham 2nd bought the Straw home. It  became a Bethel Inn guest house named The Straw House.  In 1956, the Straw House was renamed The Elms by inn owner Guy P. Butler.  In 1999, the Bethel Historical Society bought The Elms from the Bethel Inn owned then by Richard Rasor.


The Foster-Sargent place at the foot of the Bear River Mountain Rd. Sunday River Sketches.