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Found: James Foster (1897-1962) on Death Index at

James Foster (1897-1962) is mowing the grass at his home in Sacramento, California. This photo was among Robert (Bobby) Foster's personal papers.

I guess you would say that this photo has been through the mill. It's the one photo I have of my grandfather, James Foster (1897-1962). He passed away in 1962. I was born a few years after that. He and my grandma, Ora, had twelve children. This photo is in the same condition that it was in when my father, Robert (Bobby) Foster, passed away in 1988.

Grandfather James was a travelling carpenter belonging to the Local Union 586 in Sacramento, California. Somehow his occupation had landed him here, but his family had travelled much before that living in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. One thing that my father would say is that his father worked hard. Grandma Ora had a small grocery store, and his mother and father kept the family together. I think about that now. My grandfather would leave his family to travel to anyplace he was needed for work.

The Son of Former Enslaved People

One child died when he was young, but the remaining eleven grew up, of course, having to move around. They were together. The first generation out of enslavement they knew the importance of church and school. I have no other photo of my grandfather. I cannot see his face, but I can tell his arm, his overall structure, and his stance mowing the lawn. He definitely looks like my father and my father's brothers.

I really love him. That is why I, with the help of the Lord, will find his ancestors. No one knows this, but this why I have kept my maiden name. I received a call from Terry James last weekend. He was prompted to tell me about a movie. I had not seen it. Prince Among Slaves is on YouTube.

I was excited because I have been stuck on James and father, John Henry Foster, since I first began researching. Prince Among Slaves has given me some good leads with descendants with the name Foster. The owner's name was Thomas Foster who was in the Revolutionary War and lived in Natchez, Mississippi.

I discovered Thomas had come from South Carolina. He was born there in 1762. He had two or three brothers. Right now, I am studying the migration patterns of the Foster's.

Finding James' Death Index

I decided I would work from both ends, so I went to to do a search like I have done countless times for James Foster and his father:

I clicked on FamilySearch to perform my search. I was surprised to see this come up:

It was the first record, a death index for James Foster who died 23 March 1962. I had his obituary, but not a death index. I immediately added it to the Family Tree which created a Source:

Next, I found the Sacramento County Clerk's Office where I would order the death certificate which will give more important details about James' death that are not included on the death index:

I will let you know when I order and receive the death certificate.


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