Skip Navigation

First West Virginia Legislature

Biographical Sketches: Alfred Foster

Wheeling Intelligencer
September 3, 1863

The First West Va. Legislature.


Sketches Personal, Political and Biographical


Alfred Foster, the delegate from Wirt, is a native of that county, which former constituted part of Wood. He is 43 years of age; is a tall and rather good looking gentleman; hair considerably gray and cut short; eyes very black and piercing; forehead high; features regular; and expression of face sharp and shrewd; shaves partially, and wears dark whiskers around his face.

Mr. Foster's father was a blacksmith, and he lived at home and assisted his father in the shop till he arrived at his majority, but never learned the details of the trade. Had two younger brothers who did so, neither of whom are now living.:Alfred was the oldest child. While a young man he was elected lieutenant, and subsequently major and then colonel of militia. Was elected magistrate in the spring of '56, and two years afterward, sheriff of his county. Two years afterward he was re-elected and served till the beginning of the present year. Has been married twice.:Shortly after his first marriage he engaged in the lumber business and joined a partner in building a saw and grist mill. After several years spent in this business he sold out and engaged in merchandising, and after five or six years in that line resumed his former business and continued in it until elected sheriff in '58.

He had been a thorough Whig, up to '56, when he joined the Know-nothings. His county has always been largely Democratic, and it speaks well for Mr. Foster's personal popularity at home that the democracy of his county gave him a liberal support despite his Whig and Know-nothing proclivities.

Respecting the institution of slavery, Mr. Foster has been heretofore pro-slavery in his views; has thought that slavery was a great evil, but not necessarily a sin under all circumstances, was opposed to interfering with the institution in any way, and wanted to let the owners of slaves manage them in their own way. He opposed secession, and voted against the ordinance and labored for its defeat. - Has long been favorable to making a new State out of Western Virginia; and goes warmly for supporting the Administration in putting down the rebellion by force.

Mr. Foster does not make speeches in the House, but is always there to vote. He is active and energetic in his attention to business, is socially a very agreeable gentleman, and is a well respected member.

Biographies of the First West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Archives and History