Josiah Foster

Born May 13, 1849, in Van Buren, Josiah Foster was 64 when he died in September 1912. He began his mercantile career in Cove City, Crawford County, later moving to Van Buren where he established a grocery in 1875. Over the next 10 years, Foster was successful in building his business and in the late 1880s came to Fort Smith. He went into the wholesale grocery business with P.T. Reynolds, forming Reynolds, Foster & Co., which later split into Reynolds, Davis & Co. and J. Foster & Co. Foster's new firm erected a building at South Third Street and Garrison Avenue. Around the turn of the century, Foster sold out and moved to St. Louis where he was interested in a manufacturing plant for three years. After another year in Muskogee, he returned to Fort Smith, forming Foster-Caldarera Grocery Co., the name of which was changed to J. Foster & Co. upon Mr. Caldarera retiring from the firm. The firm was successful, purchasing and moving into a building at North Second and A streets around 1910.

The Times Record at his death wrote that he "was exceedingly active in all commercial movements for the advancement of the city and his joviality made him popular and a man of influence throughout this section."

He died suddenly, shortly after attending a performance of Ringling's circus in Fort Smith. People who saw him at the circus said he seemed in good spirits and in the best of health. He was survived by a wife and son, Josiah Foster Jr. who was associated with his father in the business.

Source: "Josiah Foster A Business Man of Prominence Died Suddenly," Fort Smith Times Record, Sept. 27, 1912, p. 6