Gene Foster – Part 4: Growing in Eustace

Everett, Gert, Charles, and Gene moved to the Cottonwood community northeast of Eustace in 1928 or 1929. Ruth Cook wrote about Cottonwood years later in 1985. Here’s how she described it:

“The once thriving farming community of Cottonwood isn’t very far south of Melton Rock on the Old Prairie Athens Road.

“The Community had a school which consolidated with Eustace in 1943. There was a store owned by Shade Graham. A Post office was located in this store also. Manse Morton owned and operated a grist mill and blacksmith shop. There was a Baptist Church. The Cemetery has existed since 1871. It’s located farther south across FM 2709. There’s a sign showing the direction to the cemetery. It is maintained by voluntary donations. An annual Memorial service is held on the first Sunday in June. 

“Some of the early settlers were the: Benges, Grahams, Campbells, Mortons, Robersons, Allisons, McKinneys, Fraziers, Davises, Blackwells, Stewarts, Greens, Ballards, Hutchersons, Whites and Tucks.” [Source: Ruth Cook, Sept 30, 1985, in a paper. She said she obtained the information from Horace Campbell, Bonnie Green, and Eustace Chamber of Commerce.]

The move to Cottonwood was basically a return home for Gertrude Foster. She was born March 29, 1902, and grew up on Hickory Hill in the middle of Cottonwood, the daughter of John Henry Morton and Amanda Carylon Roberson Morton.

  Years later, Gene wrote about the move. “We moved to Cottonwood in 1929. I was 2 years old. I can remember getting there in a wagon.” 

The house had four rooms — two large ones, plus a small one on the east end and “shed type” room on the north side. The north room initially served as a kitchen, but, Gene wrote, “It was cold and in very poor condition.” So they moved the kitchen to the east room. 

When Gene’s brother, Billy John, was born August 24, 1929, Gene said he stayed with his Aunt Jewel nearby during the baby’s delivery. 

Beyond the circumstances of the Fosters’ meager existence, the broader world soon would change. Just months after their move and three days after Gene’s third birthday, the American economy collapsed.

“On October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday hit Wall Street as investors traded some 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars were lost, wiping out thousands of investors. In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, America and the rest of the industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression (1929-39), the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world up to that time.” [Source:, “Stock Market Crash of 1929,]

The Fosters were no longer sharecroppers. They now lived on land they owned, but the Depression would have ripple effects throughout the nation. Of course, Gene, as a child, would not understand that impact. It merely was life for him. It was a life of simple things–a hard-working Dad and Mom, honored grandparents nearby, hot work in the fields, some time to fish and ride horses, baseball in the fields with friends, church, and school.

Note: This information is more thoroughly sourced in the original document that is yet to be published.

Copyright © 2020 Ferrell Foster

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