Page 4 - R.G. Percy

And then as he told me, "I walked to Ventura and hired a man with a team and wagon to go out to the Conejo and bring my family to Ventura. I took a job with the Santa Ana Water Company which supplied Ventura with water, at $40 a month as ditch tender, and we lived in a house on Chaffee's Avenue property, where Chaffee had his home. "Mrs. Foster kept the Company's books for years too. I don't know just what year he bought the Avenue property where his future home was. Perhaps he sold his 8OO acres in the Conejo to get that property. (probably lost all 800 acres)

He eventually became manager of the Water Company, a position which he held for years. It was after he bought the Avenue property that his experience in the Sexton Nursery in Goleta paid off. He planted a lot of apricot seeds, as people were beginning to plant orchards in the County. When the seedlings were big enough he budded them to royal apricots which he had learned to do at the Sexton nursery.

A year later the little trees were large enough to plant in an orchard. A man in Ventura by the name of Day owned a 200 acre tract of land east of the town, and Mr. Foster made a deal with him to plant the acreage to the apricot trees, and to care for them for five years until they came into bearing. Then he was to receive half of the orchard. He worked long hours driving out in the very early morning to get the orchard planted. Then he made a deal with some Chinese to grow a crop between the trees thus cultivating the orchard.

Evidently he was a very busy man these days, as he was selling real estate with a man by the name of Mckeeby too. As Jack Morrison told me much later, that it was Mr. Foster who showed Jack's Father the property which the Morrisons bought on upper Ventura Avenue in 1884.

When the young orchard was five years old Mr. Foster received half of the 200 acres from Day according to the original agreement. As Mr. Foster told me, he traded his half of the orchard for $10,000.00 of stock in the Bank of Ventura, which had been organized in 1875 by Thomas Bard and others, the first Bank in Ventura County. He first became the Bank cashier, and I believe that it was 1890 when he first became President of the Bank, and now was on his way to recover from the set back of the dry year of 76 and 77. He continued as President of the Bank of Ventura until 1917, when it was sold to the Bank of Italy, later the Bank of America. He remained as chairman of the advisory committee for many years.

Thomas Bard, Wallace Hardison and Stewart had organized the Union Oil Company in 1890 with an office in Santa Paula to develop their oil holdings in the County. It was through Mr. Foster's connection with Bard that he became interested in buying stock in the Union Oil Company, which together with his Banking interests made Mr. Foster a very wealthy man in the years that followed.

Mr. Foster had always been interested in trees, as is shown by the beautiful ones which he planted on his Avenue home, beside also some orchard trees, including various kinds of fruit trees. He was also interested in young people and for many years was president of the Ventura High School. At Christmas time he presented pocket knives to the boys of the Avenue Grammar school, and Mrs. Foster presented little things to the girls. On account of my friendship with Mr. Foster at Christmas time I received a special present of a $5.00 gold piece, until after I was out of High School.

Years later, after I had retired, and with Jack Morrison, organized the Ventura County Historical Society and had also become the Director of the Pioneer Museum. I was often asked to give talks on the County History to various Clubs. Edith Mercer was President of the Ventura Business Women's Club, and she asked me to give a historical talk to the Club. When Edith introduced me to the Club, she introduced me as "Her almost brother," because of my close association with her Father for many years.

Mr. Foster was also interested in many civic matters in the County.