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A Family of Educators and Missionaries

The Hill at the University of Tennessee 1800's

Sarah Ingalls (1761-1849) and John Foster (1759-1837)

Generation Five Family 739

SARAH INGALLS (James Ingalls4, Mary Stevens Ingalls3, Sarah Abbott Stevens2, George1), b. at Methuen, 5 Oct 1761 daughter of James and Mary (Frye) Ingalls; d. at Boxford, 25 Jul 1849; m. 25 Nov 1788, JOHN FOSTER, b. at Andover, 10 Dec 1759 son of Stephen and Abigail (Smith) Foster; John d. at Andover, 30 Nov 1837.

Sarah and John Foster raised their family of six children in Andover. John Foster had trained in metal foundry and made silver buckles and sleigh bills. Later, he supported his family through farming. He also served as a deacon. (1)

This was a family that valued both education and religious piety. Two of the sons, Stephen and Isaac, attended Dartmouth College and were ordained ministers. Stephen Foster was an educator in Tennessee and was president of East Tennessee College (now University of Tennessee) in 1834. Daughter Ruby worked as a school teacher before dying of fever at age 21. Their granddaughter, Sarah Jane Foster Rhea, was a missionary in Persia (present day Iran). There is a wealth of information on this family. The diary and letters of daughter Ruby were published after her death in 1812. (2) Sarah Rhea’s husband also published a memoir/diary. (3)

John Foster’s estate entered probate 12 Dec 1837. (4) John Foster wrote his will 13 June 1836. Beloved wife Sally receives the improvements on all the real estate during her natural life. This includes the real estate he has disposed of to his children by deeds of gifts as that was a provision of the deeds. She also receives the improvements on all the livestock and household items. In addition, she receives a bequest of $1,500 to be at her own disposal. His four grandchildren who are the children of Amos Kimball each receive $375: Mary Malvina, Walter Henry, John Foster, and Lucy Foster. This money is to be held earning interest and a specific schedule for its disbursement is given. To his daughter-in-law Ann widow of son Stephen, he gives $500 in addition to the right of the real estate he deeded to Stephen. The money bequest is to assist in “bringing up her little daughter Sarah Jane.” To Sarah Jane, he bequeaths $750 which is also to be held earning interest and paid on a schedule. Son Isaac Foster receives all the stock animals except two cows and receives all the farming tools. Daughters Sarah Foster and Hannah Foster are to receive all the household items after the decease of their mother. The daughters also will receive the horse, chaise, and sleigh and the floor pew in the meeting house. The American Board of the Commission of Foreign Missions and the American Educators Society receive $100 each. His three children Isaac, Hannah, and Sarah receive the remainder of any money and securities and any funds that may be remaining after the decease of their honored mother. Daughter Hannah Foster is named sole executor.

Sarah and John Foster had six children born at Andover.

1. SALLY FOSTER, b. 14 Aug 1789; d. at Andover, 4 Dec 1870. Sarah did not marry. Sally and her sister Hannah lived with their brother Isaac in Andover.

2. RUBY FOSTER, b. 19 Oct 1791; d. 5 Aug 1812. Ruby did not marry. She was a teacher and a diarist. Her diary was published by her pastor, Reverend Eaton of Boxford. (5)

3. LUCY FOSTER, b. 21 Nov 1793; d. at Boxford, 10 Feb 1825; m. 30 Oct 1817, AMOS KIMBALL, b. at Boxford, 27 Sep 1784 son of Amos and Mary (Stiles) Kimball; Amos d. at Boxford, 13 Nov 1845. After Lucy’s death, Amos married Susan Foster daughter of Nathan and Susannah (Barker) Foster.

4. HANNAH FOSTER, b. 22 Sep 1795; d. at North Andover, 4 Mar 1863. Hannah did not marry. She and her sister Sarah lived with their brother Isaac in North Andover. Hannah wrote her will 25 Jan 1855. She bequeaths to her sister Sally the full use of her real estate during her lifetime. Sally has the right to dispose of any wood standing on the land and well as make any additions to the buildings. Hannah bequeaths to her brother Isaac $200. He will also receive all the real property owned by Hannah after the decease of her sister Sally. Other bequests are to her nieces and nephews and several religious and missionary organizations.

5. STEPHEN FOSTER, b. 15 Feb 1798; d. at Knoxville, TN, 11 Jan 1835; m. in Knox County, TN, 30 Jun 1831, ANN A. DAVIS, b. in Tennessee, 6 Nov 1810 (6) likely the daughter of Samuel and Grizzy (Ross) Davis; Ann d. at Jonesboro, TN, 21 Oct 1894. In 1846, Ann married Samuel B. Cunningham (1798-1867). Stephen’s only child, Sarah Jane Foster, was born five months after his death. Sarah was the second wife of Samuel Rhea and served with him as a missionary in Persia (present day Iran). Her husband died in Iran and is buried there. (7)

6. ISAAC FOSTER, b. 7 Jul 1806; d. at North Andover, 23 Aug 1877; m. 2 Jul 1834, FRANCES B. LEE, b. at Hanover, NH, 4 Feb 1812 daughter of Ebenezer and Lydia (Burbank) Lee (8); Frances d. at Boxford, 8 Mar 1895. Isaac’s son Charles Lee Foster died in New Orleans 8 August 1863 while serving in the Union Army.


Photo credit:

1) Pierce, Foster Genealogy, Part I, p 231,

2) Foster, Miscellaneous Writings of Ruby Foster

3) Marsh, The Tennesseean in Persia and Koordistan, p 267

4) Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. Estate of John Foster, case number 9917, 12 Dec 1837.

5) Pierce, Foster Genealogy, Part I, p 231

6) Ann Davis’s date of birth is engraved on her gravestone;

7) “Missionary to the Nestorians”

8) The will of Lydia Burbank Lee includes a bequest of to her daughter Frances B. Foster. New Hampshire Wills and Probate Records, Grafton, NH, Will of Lydia Lee, 18 Jul 1872.


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