Martha Ballard's Story
Chapter 4

Martha looks after the Fosters

Evidence in the diary reveals Martha and Ephraim taking special care of the young Foster couple. When Rebecca Foster gave birth to her second child, Martha stayed with her for three days -- something she seldom did, even for her own daughters. One week later, she recorded a kindness in return, "I went to See Lady Foster, find her very Foster made me a prest of a Silk hand kerchief." Notice that Martha called Rebecca Foster "Lady," a title she reserved for a small percentage of the women in Hallowell.

In the months after the Fosters moved to the Ballards' neighborhood, Martha and Ephraim often helped the Fosters: (Feb. 7) "mr Foster here. mr Ballard Carried him Some meet from Cyrus & Sause from our Selves"; (Feb. 21) "I began a Linnen Stockin for Lady Foster"; (Feb. 27) "mr Ballard and Dicky went Early to git timber for mr Fosters well kirb & they gott him a load of wood"; (March 8) "Revd mr Foster & Lady Dind here"; and there are numerous entries about mr Ballard cutting and carrying wood for the Fosters.

Perhaps the Ballards' concern for the Fosters was partly motivated by their dismay at the way the Fosters were being treated by others in town.

See the surviving court records of the Sewalls' ongoing campaign against the Rev. Mr. Foster and his lawsuits against them.

More than a year after the Fosters moved, Martha noted, "mr Voce was Calld away at noon to attend a Coart between Thos Sewall plantiff & Revd mr Foster Defendant." Thomas Sewall had sued his former tenant Isaac Foster for back rent. One suspects Martha disapproved.

Later that month, when Foster sued Henry and Thomas Sewall again for slander, Martha's diary tells us that Ephraim went to hear the proceedings. Martha noted, "mr Ballard went to Esqur Norths to hear Coart Between mr Foster & the Sewalls."

Martha attends the slander trial
Martha mentions Rev. Foster's situation frequently in the Autumn of 1788...

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Martha Ballard's Diary

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February 21, 1787 (Wednesday)

21 4


Clear & Cold. I am unwell. mr Cumings Drest 10 lb of flax on Jonns acount. I began a Linnen Stockin for Lady Foster