Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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14               STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
birth, when he himself was only seventeen years old. In the spring of that year a party of engineers, engaged in locating the route of a proposed canal from Pittsburgh to Kiskiminetas, passed through Lawrenceville, and stopped for dinner at the Foster home. As they were in need of more men for the work they had undertaken, the head of the family suggested that they take with them his oldest son.
This was the beginning of a long and highly successful career. William B. Foster, Junior, soon became a full-fledged "civil engineer," and from that time on was prominent in all that region for his work in various lines. He spent several years in Kentucky, working on improve­ments in the Green River country, and on his return to Pennsylvania became Chief Engineer of Public Works of the State, including canals and railroads. Although his work kept him away from home, his loving care for his father and mother and the younger members of the family seems never to have lessened.
In the summer of 1847 he was appointed one of the two Chief Engineers of the proposed "Pennsylvania Railroad," to connect the Western country with Phila­delphia, and in this capacity he laid out and built a large part of the road west of Harrisburg, including the difficult crossing of the Alleghany Mountains. At the time of his death in 1860 he was First Vice-President of the Penn­sylvania Railroad.
The death of Charlotte, the oldest daughter of the family, mentioned in this letter, had occurred two and a half years earlier, in October, 1829, while she was visit­ing relatives in Louisville. The shock of this tragic event seems to have had a profound effect upon all the older members of the family.
Charlotte, as revealed by her letters, was a girl of much animation and charm. She was nineteen years old, engaged to be married, and seems to have possessed a bright, merry spirit and much social grace. Her letters







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