Page 1 - R.G. Percy

Mr. Foster was the President of the Bank of Ventura, on the corner of Oak and Main streets in downtown Ventura. He was already a very prominent man in the City of Ventura and the County. The family was Mr. and Mrs. Foster and five daughters, Pearl, Grace, Edith, Ida and Mildred, and one young son, Eugene, who was about five years old at that time.

My Mother was a widow, our Father having died at the age of 42, in 1892. After our home in Saticoy burned early in 1898, we had moved to property which we owned on Ventura Avenue. There were four of us children, Steve (who later married Grace Foster), Earl, me, and our sister, Zora.

When we first knew Mr. Foster, he was not a well man. He had what Doctors of that day diagnosed as stomach trouble (today it would undoubtedly be stomach ulcers.) His Doctor recommended more exercise. He began to take more walks, often walking part way to town, and on Sunday afternoon taking walks with his son Eugene. Although I was nine years old and Eugene only five, Eugene had taken a liking to me. It was not long after that until when they went for a walk that I was asked to go with them. Eugene died of pneumonia, which was a great shock to the Foster Family to lose their only son.

It was some time later before Mr. Foster again began to take his Sunday afternoon walks and then he would stop by our home and ask me to go with him. That was the beginning of a friendship between Mr. Foster and me which lasted as long as he lived. Our Sunday afternoon walks lasted while I was still in grammar school and through my years in High School. At times we would walk up the canyon or on the hills, or down along the river. When he became tired we would rest under an oak tree or sit on the side hills and he would tell me of his early life. It was these talks that began my interest in the history of the West, which has been my hobby for the remainder of my life.

My own family had been pioneers too of the West. If my Father had lived he and Mr. Foster would have been close to the same age. As the years passed Mr. Foster came to be like a second Father to me, a wonderful relationship between an older man and a young boy.

He told me of how they had crossed the Plains to California in 1854 with a wagon train with oxen, and brought about 200 head of Durham cattle with them. They eventually settled in Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco, and how he and one of his younger brothers had cared for the cattle on the Nacimiento Grant near the present town of Paso Robles during his late teens one year.

He also told me of an experience which they had at the sink of the Humboldt River in Nevada, on the trip to California. I believe that he had been about eight years old at the time. The oxen from the wagons had been allowed to drink from the water at the Sink. No Nevada River reaches the sea, but ends up in such sinks as the Humboldt. There had been some kind of a leech in the water of the sink, and a number of oxen had swallowed the leeches which killed some of the oxen. The cattle herd had been farther behind the wagon train for pasture and been watered in the river before it reached the sink, and had missed the leeches. It had become necessary to bring up some of the cattle which were unbroken to draw the wagons, to replace the dead oxen. This caused a great deal of trouble for a time.