The Story of Amos “Levi” Forester
In 1868, on October 8th, Levi was born the youngest child of his father George Farster, a farmer age 50, and Elizabeth Jane Shaffer, age 36, in Wayne Township. Levi’s mom was his dad’s 2nd wife, the mother of the youngest 4 of his dad’s 10 children. Levi’s 4 oldest siblings, who were not living at home, were: Absalom J Farster, 27; Archibald B, would be 23, (died in the Civil War); Lavina, 21 (probably married); Nancy, 19 (pregnant, living next door with 1st cousin/husband Henry Farster). Levi’s 5 siblings who were living in the parents home were; Adaline, 17; George Jr, 15; Mary J, 10; Rebecca A, 6; and Addison W, 3. Levi’s dad was a farmer.
On the 1870 census, Levi’s family was living in Wayne Township, Armstrong County. Levi was 2 years old, the youngest of 5 children in the household of his dad George 52, and mother Elizabeth 36. Siblings in the house were George 16, Mary J 12, Rebecca 7, and Addison 5. Levi’s dad continued to farm and had property worth $1800 in addition to other assets worth $700. Sisters Mary J and Rebecca were attending school. Levi and Addison were too young for school. Older sister Nancy lived next door, married to her 1st cousin Henry Farster (son of uncle Philip Farster) with their 2-yr-old daughter Jane. Henry was also a farmer.
In 1879, when Levi was 11, his oldest sibling and brother Absalom, 38, married Elizabeth Kennedy, 29, daughter of James and Lavina (Thomas) Kennedy of Jefferson County, Pa.
On the 1880 census, the family home was in Sugarcreek Township in Armstrong County, Pa. Levi was 12 years old, living with his parents George 62, and Elizabeth 47. His siblings still at home were Rebecca 18, and Adison 15. Levi’s dad was still farming. Sister Rebecca could read but not write. Levi and Adison attended school. Living next door was Levi’s grandpap Peter Shaffer, 87, a widowed farmer, along with aunt Mary Shaffer, age 45 and single, and his aunt Rebecca Shaffer-Davis, age 32 and widowed. The Forester household may have moved over to Sugarcreek Township for the purpose of being close to the Shaffer in-laws. This new location was much closer to the home of Elizabeth Bowser, Levi’s future wife.
In 1883, when Levi was 15, his sister Rebecca, 21, married William Smith, age and parents unknown.
On June 6, 1892, Levi, 24, married Elizabeth Isabell Bowser, 19, daughter of Jonathan and Lucinda (Booher) Bowser. Levi was a farmer at the time of their marriage. Elizabeth went by the name Lizzie. They were married in Worthington, Pa. by F. Beck, Justice of the Peace.
In 1892, when Levi was 24, his first child and daughter, Effie May, was born. She died in the same year. Whether she lived days, weeks or months is unknown.
In 1893, when he was 25, his second child and daughter, Sara Bertha, was born.
In 1894, when he was 26, his third child and first son, Addison Jessie, was born.
In 1895, when Levi was 27, his son Addison Jessie died.
In 1896, when he was 28, his fourth child and second son, Charles Raymond, was born.
In 1898, when he was 30, his fifth child and third daughter, Clara Mabel, was born.
In 1899, when he was 31, his sixth child and fourth daughter, Vernie Blanche, was born.
On the 1900 census, Levi 32, and Lizzie 26, were living in a rented home in Rayburn Township, a rural area outside of the town of Kittanning in Armstrong County. Children living in the home were Bertha S 6; Charlie 3; Clara 2; and Vernie B, 9 mo. Since this census was taken in June, Lizzie was 3-4 months pregnant with their next child (Archie). At this point the couple had been married for 7 years. Lizzie had given birth to 6 children, 4 of whom survived. Levi worked as a day laborer. It was reported that he and Lizzie could read and write in English. None of the children were attending school.
In November of 1900, when he was 32, Levi’s seventh child and third son, Archie Lee, was born.
In 1902, when he was 34, his eighth child and fifth daughter, Lucinda Jane, was born.
In 1903, when he was 35, his ninth child and sixth daughter, Eva Mahalia, was born.
In 1905, when he was 37, his tenth child and seventh daughter, Frances Melvia, was born.
In 1907, when he was 39, his eleventh child and fourth son, William Calvin, was born.
In 1908, when he was 40, his twelfth child and fifth son, Herbert Earl was born.
In 1910, Levi, age 42, and his wife Liza 36 were living in a rented home in Manor Township, a township encompassing a small part of the town of Kittanning and all of the neighboring town of Ford City. Since no house number is listed on the census, the family home must have been in the rural area between the two towns. The children in the house were Bertha 16, Charlie 15, Clara 13, Blanche 12, Archie 11, Jane 9, Eva 7, Frances 5, Willie 3, and Herbert 1 yr 4mo. Lizzie was reported to be the mother of 12 children, with 10 still living. Levi was working as a laborer in a brickyard. He was said to be able to read, not write. Son Charlie was no longer attending school, but all the rest of them, except the 3 youngest, were. They live in a location with many Austrian neighbors. Since Levi (and Probably Lizzie) spoke German, they were probably able to communicate well with them.
4 months later in 1910, on Aug 20th, Levi’s son Herbert died at 1 year and 8 months of age in Manor Township where he was also buried. His death certificate records the cause of death as “membranous croup,” a condition suffered for 3 or 4 days. This was another way of saying diphtheria, a contagious disease of the throat.
In 1911, when he was 43, Levi’s thirteenth child and eighth daughter, Dorothy Gwendolyn, was born.
In 1912 a Kittanning area directory called the “Painter Town Directory” listed Levi as a laborer, married to Elizabeth.
In 1913, when he was 45, Levi’s fourteenth child and sixth son, Edward Ford, was born. Also in this year, Levi’s oldest brother Absalom J Farster, age 72, died in Wayne Township.
In 1914, when Levi was 46, his daughter Bertha, 21, married Argy Ellworth Wolfe, 21, son of Guy and Ella (Bowser) Wolfe. Early the following year, Levi’s first grandchild was born, Elery Charles Wolfe. Both of Argy’s maternal grandparents were Bowsers.
In early 1915, when Levi was 47, his daughter Clara, 17, married Charles Troutner, 23, son of Thomas and Anna (Waugaman) Troutner of Worthington.
In December of the same year, Levi’s son Charles “Chuck”, 19, married Eva Julia Lewis, 19, daughter of Addison and Catherine (Morrow) Lewis.
In 1915, when he was 47, his fifteenth child and seventh son, Roy Wilson, was born. Roy was born very tiny, about 3 pounds. He was born at home, where his family cared for him. They kept the fire in the wood stove burning constantly, with him lying near it, to keep him warm enough to have a chance at surviving. Their efforts were successful.
In 1918, when Levi was 50, his sister Nancy Farster, 69, died in Echo, Wayne Township.
In 1919 or 1920, when Levi was 51 or 52, his daughter Lucinda Jane “Lucy”, 17 or 18, married Robert James Early, 24 or 25, son of George and Elizabeth Early of Butler, Pa.
On the 1920 census, Levi, 52 was living in a rented home in West Franklin Township in Armstrong County not far from Worthington, with his wife Elizabeth 46, and children: Blanche 20, Archie 19, Eva 17, Melvia 15, William 13, Dorothy 9, Edward 6, and Roy 4. Levi was once again working as a farmer near the area where he and Lizzie had lived before they were married. Levi’s oldest 3 daughters, Blanche, Eva and Melvia (Frances), were working as weavers in a woolen mill. Archie was a coal miner. William and Dorothy attended school. Edward (Ford) and Roy were too young for school. It is reported that Lizzie is unable to read or write in English. The family’s neighbors are primarily German and Austrian.
Levi’s children Blanche, Archie, Eva, Melvia and Dorothy were also listed on the census in the home of their older sister Clara Forester-Troutner on Race Street in the nearby town of Worthington.
In 1921, when Levi was 53, his daughter Eva Mahalia, 18, married Harry Orin Claypoole, 21, son of Orin and Dollie Claypoole of Worthington.
In 1922, when Levi was 54, his son Archie, 22, married Eliza “Lyda” Somerville, 21, daughter of William and Mary (James) Somerville of West Franklin Township.
In 1923, when Levi was 55, his daughter Frances Melvia, 18, married Russell L Craig, 21, son of William and Mary Gertrude (Young) Craig of Worthington.
In 1928, when Levi was 60, his daughter Vernie “Blanche”, 28, married Richard C Reining, 24, son of Charles and Lacy Reining of Allegheny County, Pa. The couple moved to Detroit, Michigan.
In 1929, when Levi was 61, his daughter Frances Melvia Forester-Craig died, 24, from typhoid fever and bronchial pneumonia. She left a husband and 4 small children behind, the children ranging in age from 3 weeks old to 5 years old. The children were split up into the homes of close relatives: Isabelle Gertrude, 5, to Eva and Harry Claypoole; Leroy, 3, to Charles and Eva Forester; Shirley May, 2, to grandparents William and Mary Craig; and James, 3 weeks, to Charles and Clara Troutner.
In 1930, Levi, 62, was not shown on the census. This may have been a mistake. Lizzie was listed as head of household and married. They rented a home for $5/month on Race Street in Worthington. Ford 17, and Roy 15, were living in the home. Lizzie’s marriage age was reported as 19. She was unable to read or write in English, but the boys could. Ford worked as a helper in a woolen mill, and Roy attended school. Levi and Lizzie’s son Archie, 29, lived next door with his wife Eliza 27, and their children Edwin L 4, Joseph W 1, and cousin, Vernie Earley 13 (Lucinda’s daughter). Archie was a miller in a grist mill.
It was about 1930 that Levi retired from working.
In 1931, when Levi was 63, his wife “Liza”, 57, died in the home of their daughter Eva Claypoole after suffering for some time with stomach cancer. After his wife’s death, Levi stays in the homes of his married daughters, rotating between them about every 2-3 months.
On March 10, 1936, when Levi was 67, he died of liver cancer. Levi’s son Roy, who was 20 at the time, later told the story that Levi, on the day of his death, said that he was going to lay down and die. He then laid down in bed and never got back up. Levi is buried in the Worthington Presbyterian Cemetery in Worthington, Pa.
According to Lucinda Forester’s daughter Florence, it was said that Levi and his family moved a great deal. They were always very poor. In his occupation as farmer, Levi moved from farm to farm, either living on or near the farm where he was paid by the owner to work the land. The work at each farm didn’t tend to last very long, so the family would move on to the next place where work was available. Levi worked primarily around the Worthington area, where many of his children married and settled.
Also according to Levi’s granddaughter Florence, she was 16 years old when he died. One of her memories is that he spoke Dutch, and would frequently, randomly count to 10 in Dutch.