Smithville, Tennessee

Thursday, February 17, 1927


Under the above Caption Prof. W. T. Foster, of Lyerly, Ga., is writing a series of short articles for the Smithville Review, the first of which will appear in the issue of next week.

Prof. Foster is well known to many of the older citizens of Smithville, he having been born in a residence which stood where the large two-story brick store house of Foster Bros. now stands. He received his education at the Fulton Academy, Bur ritt College at Spencer, the University of Florida, George Peabody College of Nashville and the Academy of Modern Languages at New York. For sixteen years he was institute director and normal conductor for the State of Mississippi. He was City Superinte ndent of some of the best schools in Mississippi for fifteen years and is now serving in a like position in Georgia.

Prof. Foster speaks the Spanish language fluently and contemplates applying for a consular position at some Spanish-speak port.

The Review is very fortunate in being able to secure contributions from the pen of this well known educator who, we were about to forget to mention is the father of Mrs O. C. Staley of Murfreesboro and Mrs. Thos. B. Dozier of Nashville.

Return to Reminiscences of Smithville - Index Page

Return to DeKalb County page

Smithville, Tennessee
Thursday, February 24, 1927


by W.T. Foster

Lyerly, Ga.,
February 16, 1927

Mr. Eugene Hendon,
Editor, Smithville Review
Smithville, Tennessee.

Dear Sir:

It is a far cry to the day when I left Smithville, the town where I was born many years ago, and turned my steps toward the far South in search of health which fortunately I found. I gave up my studies in Fulton Academy under that splendid gentleman and scholar, J. B. Smith, with regret. I hope to speak further of him in another place.
As you have so kindly given me the opportunity, dear editor, to contribute a series of papers for the columns of the Review ---"Reminiscences" we may call them---I think I should get a little acquainted with many of your readers and renew my acquaint ances with many more of them who have kinder forgotten me. I hope many of them have prospered and have perhaps retired from active business, Persons of leisure, and if so that they will find a little pleasure in reviewing with me some of the scenes and h appenings of the olden days. I am the youngest child of William G. Foster (familiarly known as "Uncle Billy"). Bird, Ras, Steve, Joe, and Frank were my brothers-- Joe only as yet living-- Sarah, an only sister, died in 1876. My father was the second so n in a family of twelve--eight sons, four daughters--born to Mrs. Sinah Foster and John Foster. Sinah Foster was a most remarkable woman. Around 1849 she took her sons and built a section of Snow Hill Pike under contract. My mother Minerva Spurlock, Da ughter of Josiah Spurlock, and, married to my father about 1838. My Grandfather Spurlock was given to his cups and had a penchant for fighting. An old story has it that one day when he rode into Liberty, he was told that a fellow had just whipped a citizen whom he himself had fought several times, whereupon he asked he be pointed out, which done, my grandfather challenged him to combat, whipped him, and said: "Keep hands off this man, I keep him for my own fight ing." Strange doings ? Yes, but better than our murders.

Lonnie Crowley, my beloved Lonnie, who went away years ago to " that born from which no traveler returns", always said that I would be a teacher. I am now completing my fiftieth consecutive year in the schoolroom! What an opportunity for servi ce God has given me! I thank him sincerely. No, I have not wasted time over moneymaking. The clarion call to teach was so high and consecrating that I could not hear the wrangling of the money-changers! I am glad I could not . Yes I am safe from the "wolf". I made two investments fifteen and twenty five years ago respectively and left them to work; never meddled with them. Just waited--- as Woodrow Wilson would say, a "watchful waiting". Yes, as the world counts it, I suppose I have been a succes sful teacher, and that is better than being called a sharp trader, a moneymaker. It has been a wonderful privilege to touch the lives of so many humans!

I fell into a reverie one evening recently and I had a vision as it were of all the pupils who had ever been under my instruction. I stood in the center of a great level field and saw them gathering about me. First came men and women sober and gra y, many of them grandfathers and grandmothers now, and behind them shading back and falling away for more than six hundred feet in every direction around me, the almost twenty thousand pupils I have taught took their places, each in hand-clasp distance of those about him. I reflected as I gazed out upon that vast throng, that few educators can duplicate that vision, but it was a vision like ships that pass in the night.. The vast throng went as it came--silently, as it should, for a good percent were sp irit, long passed over Jordan. Only to me was left now the place were they stood-- the more than ten acres was tenantless! I suddenly opened my eyes as my daughter called out, "here is a letter from Cousin Brown". Those few moments in reverie-land with that vast concourse of former pupils gave me a theme for many days, serious reflection and perhaps the most satisfying feature of it all is that I know of not more than a half dozen boys who ever donned the stripes a nd a like number of delinquent girls. Of course, there may have been more-- a poor instrument-- to bring it to pass. And now trusting that I have established some stable points of contact and sympathy with the reader, this introductory article must find some conclusion without much delay. The "reminiscences" when I design to write for the Review should appear for many weeks.

I shall begin the next article with an incident of the Civil War -- the first one I can truly say I remember.

Return to Reminiscences of Smithville - Index Page

Return to DeKalb County page

Last update: February 2, 1997