From the Jan. 29, 1926 edition of the Gazette:

It may be of interest to those who doubt the business possibilities of Martha’s Vineyard to know that the Buick agency of William G. Manter leads New England in the percentage of sales according to the population.

As there are 125 Buick dealers in New England, many of them located in cities, this record is not only a tribute to the company and its selling ability, but also to Vineyard prosperity.

Some day in the dim and far-off future, a tablet or monument will be erected to the memory of Francis A. Foster, the first Vineyarder, and the only one up to date, who has foreseen the day when there will be a lack of unspoiled wilderness for the public to enjoy, and who has made provisions against that contingency to an extent which should warrant the preservation of his name in the public memory.

Mr. Foster is a Vineyarder by mutual adoption, loving the Island ardently, and being accepted by his friends and neighbors as one who belongs to that great family who are Vineyarders first and townsmen afterwards.

He was born in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 21, 1872, the son of Francis C. Foster and Marion Padelford. He was educated in Cambridge and was a special student at the Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard. Many of the summers of his boyhood were spent at Woods Hole, and even then he was drawn by the Vineyard, which seemed mysterious and captivating as it lay far out in the sparkling, sky blue waters.

Visits to the Island in later years confirmed his belief that the Vineyard was the land of his dreams, and after spending some summers here he purchased a home in Edgartown and in 1912 became a permanent resident.

Later, he purchased the 600 acre estate in West Tisbury, which he has converted into a bird and game sanctuary, and where he is carrying out a constructive plan of reforestation. A large part of this estate is heavily wooded, one portion being reckoned by Mr. Foster as the finest stand of oak on the Island, which he purchased in order to save it from being converted into cord wood.

Birds by the thousands congregate here, to nest or to seek food and shelter during the winter months. Food in plenty is provided for them at various stations which they frequent, and they are so tame that they will alight on the heads and shoulders of Mr. Foster and his men who replenish the supply.

No hunting is allowed on the premises and for this reason the State Department of Fish and Game Conservation has liberated birds and animals in the spacious cover.

The idea of tree planting occurred to Mr. Foster after an attack on the oak trees by the measuring worms, which destroyed the leaves for two successive seasons. Fearing that the oaks were doomed, he began to plant pines, white pine for the most part, but also a certain amount of red and Scotch pine and some spruce. About 19,000 of these trees have been planted and are being tended with the greatest of care. The oaks, however, recovered from the ravages of the worms, and it has therefore become necessary to thin out some the more aged trees and to transplant some of the seedlings. This is the work which occupies the greater part of Mr. Foster’s time. “Tramping the woods or swinging an axe gives me the exercise I need” he explains, and his wiry frame and firm hand clasp show the good effects of hard training.

It is this estate, upon which Mr. Foster is lavishing his care and attention. Provision has been made for turning it over to some society, to protect the bird life, and the public is to be allowed to walk or drive through the fields and woods.

Mr. Foster has never been engaged in active business but his activities in historical research have been very pronounced. He was the editor of publications of the New England Historical Genealogical Society for a number of years, is a director of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, a member of the Revolutionary Society of the Cincinnati, besides holding office in a dozen more historical and geographical societies, and a member of the Ornithologist Union, the Nuttal Ornithologist Club and the Society of Mammalogists.

He has found time, however, to serve as selectman and assessor of the Town of Edgartown, as county commissioner of Dukes County, trustee of the Edgartown Public Library, and president of the Home Club of Edgartown, besides being an active member of the Martha’s Vineyard Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and of the Royal Arch Chapter.

“I always detested the city,” says Mr. Foster, “and longed for the open spaces . . . I have traveled more or less, but I have found no place that can compare with Martha’s Vineyard. There is every natural attraction here that anyone could wish for, and a personal freedom I have never found anywhere else. I am perfectly happy and contented, a Vineyarder to the backbone, and nothing short of dynamite could dislodge me from the Island.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox