Biographical / Historical
Thyra Jane (or Jane) Foster (1898-1984) was born in West Branch, Iowa, to Joseph E. and Mary Warner Meyers. She attended Stillwater Primary School in West Branch, the Friends Boarding School of Barnesville, Ohio, and the Westtown School in Westtown, Pa. In 1921, Jane graduated from Mt. Holyoke College and in 1924 married Henry Cope Foster (1895-1987). Henry graduated from the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts) in 1923 and returned to Warwick, Rhode Island, where in his early years he worked in the family farm with his brother William and his father Horace. His two sisters, Anna and Elizabeth Foster, lived on the farm for their entire lives. Jane taught chemistry, physics, Latin, and German in the Coventry school system from 1944 until her retirement in 1959. After her retirement, she was the founding archivist of the Archives of the New England Yearly Meeting. Thyra Jane and Henry Foster were active members of Providence Monthly Meeting of Friends. The Fosters' son, John Henry Foster, was born in 1926, and twins Harold M. and Thera were born in 1929. The children were educated at Westtown School before college. John H. Foster married Georgana Falb in 1954. He was a member of the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Thyra Jane's father was Joseph E. Meyers (1858-1937), a conservative Orthodox Quaker, raised in Pennsdale, Pa., a member of the Muncy Monthly Meeting. His father, William D. Myers (1826-1892) was a convinced Friend who became a member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for the Southern District in 1854. His mother was Mary Roberts Warner (1828-1873), a birthright member of Muncy Monthly Meeting. Through his mother's side, Joseph E. Meyers was related to prominent Muncy Quaker families such as Lundy, Carpenter, Winner, and Starr.
Joseph E. Meyers was the second of four children and the only to survive early childhood. His father was disowned by the Society of Friends in 1859, and the marriage was not a happy one. In 1863, Mary Meyers returned to Pennsdale and the Muncy Monthly Meeting. She raised her only surviving child with strict adherence to the rules of discipline regarding dress, behavior, and marriage. After her death, Meyers attended Westtown Boarding School and then West Chester Normal School. It had been the desire of his mother that he pursue a career as a teacher, and for about ten years, he taught at a number of schools in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa. However, it was a career to which he was ill-suited, and by 1894, he became a farmer.
In 1880, with the encouragement and support of his uncle, Charles Warner, he moved to Barnesville, Ohio, where he became acquainted with members of the Ohio Yearly Meeting. For about the next ten years, he spent time in Ohio, Kansas, and Iowa. In 1894, Joseph Meyers married Mary J. Worthington at Stillwater Monthly Meeting in Barnesville, and for a short time they lived on a farm in Cedar County, Iowa. About 1907, the family returned to Barnesville, Ohio. He remained at Stillwater MM until 1931 when he moved to Rhode Island to live with his daughter and son-in-law, Thyra Jane and Henry Cope Foster. About 1929, he began to compile biographies on Quakers that he knew from his youth in Pennsdale, Pa., and his many years in Ohio and Iowa, corresponding with a number of friends for information and suggestions.