Page 2 - R.G. Percy

The background of the Foster Family is well covered in the "Foster Story" written by Lucy Foster Sexton, Mr. Foster's sister. This was based in almost day by day diaries kept by members of the family of the three crossings of the plains to California in 1849, 52 and 54, and one of a return trip by sea to the East. I understand that the origin of these are in the vault of the Ventura library, which were used by Mrs. Sexton. The early years of the family in California are also covered.

There is another very interesting book which gives information about the Foster Family written by Horace Sexton in 1964, "Fourteen at the Table." I have an autographed copy of this book given to me by Horace, a brother of Effielou Burnham's Father, Walter Sexton.

Isaac G. Foster was the father of Eugene P. Foster. According to Horace's book Eugene P. Foster was born in 1848. Lucy Foster in 1853, Fred Foster was born near Ogden, Utah, while the family was on the way to California, and Frank Foster was born in California near the mines in Downieville in 1856. Eventually the family left the mines and after a month arrived in San Jose where they lived for seven years. In the Fall of 1861 the family moved to Half Moon Bay on the peninsula south of San Francisco. It was in 1867 that Isaac G. Foster made a trip to Santa Barbara, lured by a newspaper advertisement of the subdivision of the Daniel Hill land grant at Goleta.

Late in July of 1868 Foster and his three sons started south on the old stage road, El Camino Real. They took five cows and some horses and reached Santa Barbara by the way of Gaviota Pass in September. Ten days earlier Roxanna (Mrs. Foster) and her fifteen year old daughter arrived on the steamer Orizaba. They stayed in the American Hotel, an adobe building on lower State Street awaiting the arrival of her husband and the boys.

Isaac G. Foster purchased property in Goleta, where they pitched tents under the Oak trees and built a two story house of lumber. The lumber had been floated ashore from a schooner anchored off of the Goleta Slough. Mr. Foster had told me of how the lumber had been thrown overboard into the ocean and washed ashore. There were no wharfs in either Santa Barbara or Ventura at that time. Freight was brought ashore by lighters, and passengers by small boats.

The land purchased by the Foster family joined the Sexton property, and the families soon became friends. The Sextons had been in the nursery business and fruit growing first in Ione in the Sierra foothills, and later in Petuluma, and had been attracted to the Santa Barbara section by the same advertisement. Here, first in the city of Santa Barbara, and later on their property in Goleta, they continued in the same business. The Fosters and the Sextons arrived about the same time in Goleta. In November 1869 sixteen year old Lucy Foster became the bride of twenty-six year old Joseph Sexton, bringing the two pioneer families closer together. There were twelve children born to this Sexton family, which accounts to the name given by Horace Sexton's book "Fourteen at the Table."

Effielou has a copy of this book, and there is one in the Ventura County Pioneer Museum. Although the book gives some of the early Foster family history, it is mostly about the Sexton family. More about the Foster family can be found in the "Foster Story" by Lucy Sexton.

E.P. Foster was 21 years old when the family was living on their property at Goleta. At times, so he later told me, he often worked with his brother-in-law Joseph Sexton in the Sexton nursery. What he learned there became valuable to him in later years.

It was in 1871 that Mr. Foster made his first trip to Ventura County with a light wagon and a team of horses. He told me of driving out through the Santa Clara Valley through wild mustard taller than a man on horseback, and thicker than the hair on a dog's back. He returned to Goleta, and did not come to Ventura County until 1873. That was the reason he said why he was not a member of the Ventura County Pioneer Society. The Society was formed in 1890 by Dr. Cephas Bard, and limited to only those who were living in Ventura County in 1872 - the year that Ventura County had separated from being a part of Santa Barbara County.