Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
May not be copied without written consent
Several weeks ago we looked at the will of Blount Hodge of Livingston County, Kentucky. Today I want to share with you the will of Robert W. Foster, whose very interesting will was written 7 September 1895, just one week before his death. R.W. Foster never married and that is quite evident in the way he outlines his last wishes regarding his house. Even more interesting, though, is that it appears he had a fear of being buried alive. But first, a little background on this very interesting man.
R.W. Foster, who was born in Oldham County, Kentucky 7 September 1817, came to Crittenden County shortly after 1850 and built a home in the Hurricane community. He had one brother, Anthony, who settled in Missouri and a sister, Susan, who married Willis N. Threlkeld as his second wife, and lived in Crittenden County.
Willis N. Threlkeld lived only a few years after marrying Susan, but they did have two children, Foster and Clara Threlkeld. After Willis Threlkeld’s death, Susan and her two children moved into the home of her brother, R.W. Foster.
Susan must have done a good job of running the household as in his will, R..W. Foster gave his “Sister Susan Threlkeld the controlling privilege of all house hold affairs during her natural life ...” To his nephew, Foster Threlkeld, he left over 600 acres of land in two tracts near the Ohio River. To his niece, Clara Threlkeld Brown, he left land in Hardin County, Illinois. Foster and Clara also received cash, notes and stock.
R.W. Foster’s will begins to get interesting when he gave instructions for the repair of his home: “I exact [sic] that my Room shall have the ceiling renailed, and above the base boards replastered, also my Room Nicely papered. I also must have my fire place repaired with good fire brick and done by a good Experienced Mason. This repairing must be done before winter of 1895.”
He goes on to discuss his burial: “I must also have one lot bought at the new cemetery at Marion Ky for my burial. I also exact [sic] that I be Kept out of the ground when dead until it is positive fact that I am Dead. I also want my funeral preached by the Revend. Preacher Miley.”
From the date the will was written and the date it was produced in court, it is most likely that R.W. Foster was ill, perhaps on his death bed, when he left these final instructions. His fear of being buried alive is very clear and I am surprised he did not request a coffin with a little bell inside that he could ring if he was still breathing when placed in the coffin.
It makes you wonder what caused this fear ... did he know of someone who had been placed in his coffin while still alive or ... what?
R.W. Foster died 14 September 1895 and is buried in Mapleview Cemetery in Marion. Buried beside him is his sister, Susannah Foster Threlkeld (16 February 1826 - 4 August 1911).
Obituary of R.W. Foster, Crittenden Press, 19 September 1895.
Crittenden County Will Book 1, page 285.
Crittenden County Genealogical Society.
Crittenden County, Kentucky Cemeteries, Marion, Kentucky Vol. V (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 2006) 174.