Foster, Leonard Gurley

Born: September 10, 1840
Died: December 13, 1937

Ohio connection: Birth


Leonard Gurley Foster, a Civil War veteran whose avocation brought him the epithet, “the Buckeye poet” was the son of Ebenezer and Elmyra (Williams) Foster.  He was born on the family homestead in the Cuyahoga Valley near Denison Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland. He was educated at The Brooklyn Academy, Baldwin University in Berea and the Humiston Cleveland Institute.  He was principal at Tremont School, Member of the School Board, Clerk of City Council, and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.  He served with the 8th Ohio Battery on Johnson’s Island. Foster actively worked the family farm, which inspired many of his verses on nature. A veteran of the first Chautauqua meeting in 1874, he remained active in the movement as a speaker and contributor of poetry. He wrote an estimated 80,000 verses in his lifetime, including 47 volumes of poems in manuscript which he presented to the Western Reserve Historical Society.  His published volumes included Whisperings of Nature (1893) and The Early Days: A Pioneer Idyl (1911). Many of his poems were also published in the Cleveland News and the Cleveland Times (1922). Foster and his wife, Lyde Holmden, had three children.  His brothers Edwin J. and Henry E. were Cleveland lawyers, the former having published verse and the latter a 1900 political campaign tract. His sister Hanna Alice Foster was a temperance worker and poet as well.  Leonard Gurley Foster died December 13, 1937.