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Heartstring Samplery ~ Philip Foster Farmhouse

Heartstring Samplery ~ Philip Foster Farmhouse

$ 7.50 $ 10.00

Philip Foster was one of the first settlers in modern Oregon. The farmstead he established in Eagle Creek in 1847 became a stopping post for pioneers heading West along the Oregon Trail. Approximately 10,000 emigrants are believed to have passed through his place during the years that the Oregon Trail was in operation. The farm was the first sign of “civilization” after enduring the hardships of the Barlow Road. There, weary travelers could obtain food and needed supplies. Some travelers even paid to sleep on the family’s parlor floor when the farm was overcrowded with new arrivals. The family provided home-cooked meals for the emigrants, fresh meat, and vegetables. Abigail J. Duniway wrote in 1859, “September 29th. Eighteen miles travel brought us to Mr. Foster’s residence, at the western base of the Cascade Mountains. The sight of a white house, neat garden, loaded fruit trees, and waving corn-stalks, animated us all.”

I have long been fascinated with one very prominent feature of the farm, which is located just 8 miles from my doorstep, and walking distance from the school that my kids attend. The thing that first drew my eye is a massive, old-growth Lilac Tree which is positioned in the front yard. The original start of this Lilac Tree was brought from Maine to Oregon by Mary Charlotte Foster, the wife of Philip. It travelled around Cape Horn, stayed over in the Sandwich Islands for 6 months, and was immediately planted upon arrival in Oregon City. Mary Charlotte had to move it five times, replanting it at each of her homes. It survived these turbulent years, but has enjoyed stability in its current location since 1883. It is approximately 25 feet high and is over 170 years old. Every Spring it fills the air with sweet fragrance and is a sight to behold. It has lived a long and exciting life, and is now certified as an Oregon Heritage Tree.

In addition to the charted sampler, there is a more complete story of the Foster family included with this chart.

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