Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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THE FAMILY
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burned by the Indians during the siege of Fort Pitt, in 1763.
The tract purchased by William Foster was known as "Bullitt's Hill," and extended on the north as far as the Alleghany River, including the ground where Colonel George Washington and his guide, Christopher Gist, landed on December 28th, 1753, after being marooned all night on Wainright's Island and nearly frozen to death while returning from the French Fort Venango. It was doubtless farmland when Foster bought it and, as the consideration indicates, was accounted valuable, with a water-front and two main travelled roads intersecting it and leading into the town of Pittsburgh.
Immediately after purchasing the land, William Foster donated a part of it to be, as he expressed it, "a burial ground for our soldiers forever," where they might be buried by right and not by sufferance. At the time this donation was made, soldiers were passing through Pitts­burgh continually, going to or returning from the war. Many of them died there and were buried in the Potter's Field. As the son of an American soldier, Foster deter­mined that this shameful practice should no longer con­tinue. The burial-ground he thus donated is marked at the present time by a monument of solid granite, bearing the inscription, "In honor of the American sol­diers who lie buried here," with the date 1814. In the same year he also sold thirty acres of the land to the Government, and upon it was erected the Arsenal which was in use until 1905. Upon a spot well up on the hill, overlooking the river, he erected "The White Cottage," which became the Foster homestead, and here the younger Foster children, including Stephen, were born. The remainder of his land Foster laid out as a town and named it Lawrenceville, after that Captain Lawrence whose death in a naval battle, occurring shortly before this time, was immortalized by his dying words, "Don't give up the ship!"







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