Discover Foster Rhode Island
Foster was originally inhabited by the Nipmuc Native American tribe, who had a village at what is now known as Wallum Lake. The Nipmuc were part of the larger Algonquian-speaking peoples of the Northeast, and they hunted, fished, and farmed in the area.
The first European settlers arrived in the area in the mid-17th century, primarily from nearby Massachusetts. They established farms and sawmills along the town’s streams and rivers. The settlement was initially part of Scituate, Rhode Island, but it eventually became a separate town in 1781, named after its founder, Judge Theodore Foster.
Foster played an important role in the American Revolution. Judge Foster was a prominent figure in the Rhode Island colony, serving as a delegate to the Continental Congress and later as a U.S. Senator. He was an ardent supporter of the American cause and played a key role in Rhode Island’s decision to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
William West was another notable figure from Foster who played a role in the Revolution. West fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and served in the Continental Army throughout the war.
During the 19th century, Foster was primarily an agricultural community. Farms in the area produced dairy products, vegetables, and fruit. In the mid-1800s, the town also saw the development of small-scale industries, including textile mills and sawmills. However, these industries were short-lived and were largely replaced by the manufacturing centers in nearby Providence and other towns.
In the 20th century, Foster remained a primarily rural community, with little industrial development. The town did, however, become a popular location for summer homes and camps, attracting visitors from nearby cities like Providence. Foster also became a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with forests, streams, and rolling hills providing ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and hunting.
Today, Foster remains a small, rural town with a population of around 4,700 residents. The town’s economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism, with farms, bed and breakfasts, and recreational activities contributing to the local economy. Foster is also known for its historic sites, including the Foster Center Historic District, which includes several well-preserved 19th-century buildings.