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Luther H Foster
Luther H Foster 1882.jpg
c. 1868
Born (1827-05-31)May 31, 1827
Died June 20, 1876(1876-06-20) (aged 49)
Resting place Lakeview Cemetery
Ludington, Michigan, US
Nationality American
Education Local public schools
Occupation businessman, lumberman
Known for developing Mason County and Ludington, Michigan
Title General Manager, Manufacturer
Children Frank and Edwin

Luther Hall Foster (also Luther H. Foster and L. H. Foster) was a nineteenth century businessman and lumber tycoon known for helping to develop various lumber businesses.

Early life and education

Luther was born at East Machias, Maine on May 31, 1827. His parents were Edward Foster and Fannie Foster. He began kindergarten at three and attended the local public schools until he was seventeen years old. Luther had an aptitude in mathematics and mechanics.

Luther took up the study of music when he was a boy, influenced by his father who was an accomplished musician. He purchased a reed instrument called a seraphine at about eighteen. Luther ultimately became a talented musician.

Business career

Luther with his brother Edward went to Ridgway, Pennsylvania in 1851 to work in the lumber industry. There they rented a small old fashion sawmill to run. They worked up to eighteen hours a day and had one employee. They produced between the three of them about 6,000 to 8,000 board feet of lumber per day. Later in 1855 they moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and were managers of a lumbering business until 1857. Luther and his brother then moved to Stiles, Wisconsin on the shore of Green Bay where they were worked for seven years for Holt & Balcom, Iverson & Whitcomb, and the Holt Lumber Company.

Luther and his brother Edward crossed Lake Michigan in 1865 and went to Muskegon, Michigan There they worked for S. N. Wilcox for about a year at the Eldred and Farr Lumber Company. They then went north in 1866 to the village of Pere Marquette in northwestern Michigan. The village later became the town of Ludington, Michigan. The place at the time was all forests except for a small village around a sawmill. They were hired by the lumber tycoon James Ludington to manage his vast real estate and lumber interests. Ludington had deteriorating health and was having difficulty in handling his affairs. They devised a business plan for the management of Ludington's timber holdings and local real estate. They presented the plan to Delos L. Filer and the result was the organization in 1869 of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company. The capital raised for the new company was $500,000 to buy Ludington's interests and holdings. The partners of the new company were besides Luther and his brother Edward, D. L. Filer, John Mason Loomis, John McLaren and Ludington.

James Ludington's letters

Ludington wrote letters from Wisconsin to Luther as to business matters concerning the management of his interests at Pere Marquette, Michigan. He lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Luther was his business manager in Michigan. They communicated back and forth by letters that traveled by ship across Lake Michigan. In the Ludington letter from Racine, Wisconsin, to Luther of December 6, 1866, he expresses his confidence in him to manage his Michigan affairs correctly.

Ludington in his letter to Luther of January 9, 1867, addressed it to Pere Marquette, Michigan, but put on top in parenthesis the word "Ludington" dropping the hint that perhaps the village of Pere Marquette should be changed to the town of "Ludington" in his honor. In 1873 there was an election that officially incorporated the village as the city of Ludington.

Personal life

Luther married Lucy Amelia Schraam in Camden, New York on May 25, 1855.(Ref: History of Northern Mich by Powers) Luther built an elegant residence across the street from the Per Marquette Lumber Company's "Big Store", that his wife and their two sons, Frank and Edward, continued to occupy even after his death.

Luther became a member of the Ludington Presbyterian Church and took a prominent part in religious affairs. Luther with his wife and their two children and three other children organized the first Sunday school in Ludington. He was a leader of the Sunday schools in Ludington for his lifetime. Luther assisted to organize a Congregational Church in Ludington in 1870. He was active in its support until 1874, when the Ludington Presbyterian Church was organized and he became a member of that church.

Luther at one time was the Ludington commissioner under the Michigan land commissioner. He supported the Republican party.

Later life and death

Luther was assassinated by burglars on the morning of June 20, 1876. The burglars broke into his house and woke him up in the early morning hours. He pursued them as they ran away from his house and was shot dead by one of them. It turned out the burglars took a specific ledger known later as "Foster's Black Book" where Luther was about to become a whistle blower of corruption, similar to that of the Wisconsin Black Book case of 1856.


Luther was in charge of platting the city of Ludington when it was still a village called Pere Marquette. He also named all the main streets of Ludington. Luther played a major role in getting the city of Ludington to become the seat for Mason County, Michigan.

One of the city of Ludington's school buildings is named Luther H. Foster, noting his zealous involvement in the city's schools and churches.

Foster Street in the city of Ludington is named after the pioneer lumberman Luther Hall Foster.

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