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These he chose on account of the excellence of their voices and their correct method of singing. Among his favorites for this task were Mrs. Andrew L. Robinson, Mrs. John Mitchell and Miss Jessie Lightner. While in Cincinnati, Miss Sophie Marshall, afterwards Mrs. Harry Miller, was a favorite in these rehearsals. She was possessed of a most beautiful soprano voice and sang with much sweetness and taste. For her he wrote "Stay, Summer Breath," one of his earliest sentimental compositions.
Foster was very fond of playing on the piano of Miss Isabella Cosgrove, who lived on Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, and who was very much interested in the work of the young composer.
Stephen, together with a number of other young men of Allegheny, had a club for social purposes, and many of these friends assisted him with his songs. Among his most intimate friends were Mr. Andrew L. Robinson, Mr. Frank Dennison, Mr. Harvey Davis, Mr. Charles Rahm and Mr. Charles Shiras, the publisher of "The Albatross." Mr. Shiras was a most intelligent and well read man and often assisted Foster with the words for his melodies. When he and Stephen were both young men there was a little French tutor in Allegheny, and these two decided to learn French from him. So apt were they both at this, that in three weeks they could speak and translate the language with comparative ease.
While many of Foster's songs were plantation melodies, he never spent any time in the South, with the exception of one trip to New Orleans, which he took with a number of friends on his brother Dunning's packet.
His poetic fancy ran rather towards sentimental songs, and many of these sold in large numbers and are still very popular. Among these are " Gentle Annie," "Laura Lee," "Willie, We Have Missed You," "Ellen Bayne," "Old Dog Tray," "Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming," "Ah, May the Red Rose Live Alway," etc.
A man named Morgan Jenkins had a store on Federal Street, Allegheny, where Foster often went to make purchases and where he frequently saw Mr. Jenkins' little daughter, Annie. After her death, which occurred when she was still a child, Foster told Mr. Jenkins that he was going to write a song to her memory. This song he called " Gentle Annie," and it became one of his best known sentimental compositions. It was Foster's delight to thus perpetuate the memory of his friends, and although Annie Jenkins has been dead for many years, "Gentle Annie" will live with us forever.