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Elizabeth Kegley (1851 - 1945)


Posted By: Barry Mateer (email)
Date: 2/29/2024 at 11:10:39

June 7th 1945
Osceola Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa

Funeral services for Mrs. Elizabeth Foster died at her home on East McLane street Sunday, June 3, after a long illness. She was 93 years old.

Elizabeth Margaret Kegley, daughter of Lawson R. and Frances Kegley, was born in a small log cabin with earthen floor and sod chimney, a mile and a half north of the site of the present city of Osceola, on October 27, 1851.

For the next seven years the tiny log cabin was her home, until her father built the first frame house in the neighborhood. He was a stone mason and from the nearby limestone quarry he brought rock for a full basement under the house. In the basement he and his wife put their looms and spinning wheels from which their clothing was made.

A few years later the Smith and Gross woolen mill was established in Osceola and Elizabeth was employed to operate one of the looms.

She attended the country school nearby and later was a pupil in the first school in the newly founded village of Osceola. She was a member of the first class taught in the west ward building which still stands.

When she was 18 she successfully passed the examinations for a teaching certificate. At that time, she and Joel Fenn of Murray held the only two first grade certificates in the county. For eight years she taught in the schools of the county. One term at the Lewis school in Jackson township, she had 51 pupils. Among her former pupils who are living are Mrs. Sally Mongar and Mrs. Enoch Saddoris of Osceola.

She was married to Wm. R. Foster on October 14, 1874. Rev. Frank Evans of the M.E. church performed the ceremony. Seven children were born to them, four dying in infancy. A son, Cullen W. Foster, died last September. Two motherless grandchildren were taken into the home and kindly reared by Mr. and Mrs. Foster. They are Mrs. Ruth Minnich of Waterloo and Chester W. Foster of Los Angeles.

Mrs. Foster was probably the last surviving person who attended the old ‘blue’ church, one of Osceola’s first places of worship. She and her brothers and sisters walked the mile and a half nearly every Sunday to Sunday school. She had among her possessions a bible given her as a reward for learning and reciting 600 verses of scripture. She said she learned them while herding her father’s sheep on the prairie now occupied by parts of the city of Osceola.

Mr. Foster died on December 23, 1931 and since that time she has continued to live in her comfortable home on East McLane street. During her declining years, she has been tenderly cared for by her daughter, Mrs. Fannie Galloway.

Besides the daughter she is survived by a son, Harry of Waterloo, four grandchildren, Ruth Foster Minnich of Waterloo, Chester W. Foster of Los Angeles, S/1c Everette Foster of the Navy, and Mrs. Ruthalene Stark of Waterloo. One brother, C.V. Kegley of LeCenter, Minn., also survives.

Mrs. Foster was one of Osceola’s most highly respected elderly women. She was a never failing source of information concerning the pioneer days of the county and was always happy to visit with younger folk who were interested in hearing her tales of those days. Her passing breaks one more link with the present and day when men and women were carving out homes for themselves and their families from the raw prairies of Southern Iowa.

August 2, 1951
The Osceola Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa

Memoirs of first white child …
(During her later years, Mrs. Foster wrote many of her recollections of pioneer days; bits of history that would otherwise have been lost; personal experiences that illustrate the life of the pioneers better than anyone living today could duplicate. Mrs. Fannie Galloway, Mrs. Foster’s daughter, has gathered these stories from the various places among her mother’s mementoes and made them available for this Centennial edition. With a minimum of editing, they are reproduced in this section. Mrs. Foster died in 1945.)

“My father, Lawson Kegley and his brother-in-law, William Farley and their small families started from Indiana in their covered wagons in 1851 to seek new homes in the west. They started to Oregon but when they got as far as Iowa and saw the beautiful prairie they said, “here we will make our homes.”

They camped in the edge of the timber just north of where Osceola now stands, selecting their homesteads at once; they had their choice of land. My father selected his land just 1 ˝ miles north of where Osceola now stands and William Farley chose his joining on the north where there was timber.
(Now located on Iowa Highway 152 which joins U.S. Route 69 and Interstate 35.)

The next thing to do was to make their families comfortable until they could build their cabins. My father cut down a tree, made some rails for a pen, and covered it with brush and grass.

The Farleys lived in their covered wagon. Both families cooked on a fire out by the side of a log until my father built a fireplace of sod with a sod chimney. There was only a dirt floor.

It was here on the 27th of October, 1851, that I was born. There was no doctor present. An old Mormon woman cared for mother and me. She was one of the two families that had become stranded here on their trek to Utah. The names of those families were Connor (Conyers) and Langley.

We lived in our cabin for several years until a man came out from the East with a saw mill. Then my father had lumber sawed for a frame house, the only one for miles around. It had one large room downstairs, a half story above and a lean-to kitchen. It was considered a nice structure.

It was here that I spent my young womanhood. I attended the first school taught in Osceola in a frame building which stood where the city hall now stands. The school house had one room upstairs and two downstairs.
A little later I attended the first term of school ever taught in the present West Ward school building. I walked from my home in the country each day.

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Clarke Obituaries maintained by Brenda White.
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