Biography of Newel K. Foster of Oakland

Newel K. Foster, a physician and legislator and equally well known in professional and political circles as one worthy of public regard and confidence, was born in Canterbury, Merrimac County, New Hampshire, in 1849. His parents were David M. and Sarah (Robertson) Foster, the former a native of the Granite State, while the latter was born in Maine. The ancestors of both the paternal and the maternal lines came to New England prior to the Revolutionary War, and the paternal grandfather, Asa Foster, gave valiant aid to the colonists in their struggle for independence, while later he became a colonel in the state militia of New Hampshire. The maternal grandfather served his country in the War of 1812.

David M. Foster was a farmer by occupation and a man fearless in advocacy of his honest convictions. He became recognized as a leader in political thought and action in his community, and was one of the original abolitionists, doing everything in his power to promote an anti-slavery sentiment. He took an active part in public life and several times represented his district in the state legislature, leaving the impress of his individuality upon the laws which during that period found their way upon the statute books of the state. He died in 1883, honored and respected by all who knew him. He left a family of two sons and a daughter, of whom Dr. Newel K. and Mrs. C. W. Emery, of Oakland, are now the surviving members.

Dr. Foster was reared upon his father’s farm in New Hampshire and attended the district schools of that state, acquiring therein his preliminary education. In 1869 he matriculated in Cornell University and was graduated on the completion of a four years’ course in 1873, with the degree of Bachelor of Science. His literary training was then supplemented by preparation for a professional career. He entered the Michigan State University at Ann Arbor, in which he studied medicine, while later he took the degree of Doctor of Medicine in the Long Island College Hospital, of Brooklyn, New York, being graduated with the class of 1878. He practiced first in Tompkins County, New York, where he remained for three years, and in 1882 went to Laramie, Wyoming, where he continued in practice and was also surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad Company until 1886. That year witnessed his arrival in California. He located in Oakland, where he followed his profession until April 1903, when he was appointed secretary of the state board of health and removed to Sacramento. He had for two years been a member of the Oakland board of health, and in 1900 was elected a member of the state legislature, where he discharged his duties with such ability that in 1902, he was re-elected and is now serving for the second term.

In 1875 occurred the marriage of Dr. Foster and Miss Jennie Smiley, a native of New York. They had one son, Harry, who is attending college, his attention being principally given to the study of medicine. Mrs. Foster passed away in 1893, and in 1895 Dr. Foster was again married, his second union being with Maude A. W. Camp, who was born in Chicago and is a daughter of James M. and Henrietta Jane (Gilliland) Camp, who came to California in the early ’70s. There is one child of this marriage: Ruth Maude, who at the age of seven years is attending the public schools of Sacramento. The Doctor and his wife have gained many friends, the hospitality of a large number of the best homes of the city being extended to them. Dr. Foster holds membership relations with the Masons, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Woodmen of the World. His political allegiance is given to the Republican party, and he has always taken an active interest in state as well as municipal politics, desiring the adoption of the principles which he believes contain the best elements of good government. He is a member of the State Medical Society, the Alameda County Medical Society, and the Sacramento County Medical Society, and through the interchange of thought and experience in these organizations he has added largely to his own knowledge, while reading has greatly broadened his professional horizon and rendered his efforts most efficient in checking the ravages of disease. In his present official service, his work is of an important character. He is doing a work which has far-reaching results in promoting the healthy conditions of the state.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top