“The Benefit of a City Education”

Readers of this blog may recall my entry on Foster, a town which existed for a few decades in a canyon which is now part of Lakeside. The town was named for its most prominent citizen, Joseph Foster, rancher, hotel owner, road builder and, in the early 20th century, a county supervisor for 23 years.

This episode touches on one little detail of Joseph Foster’s life which he shared with a lot of prominent citizens from what was then called the “back country.” That detail was to send your children to live in the city of San Diego when it was time for them to attend school.

If you peruse local newspapers of the late 19th and early 20th century, it was not at all unusual to see an entry like this one, which appeared in the “Poway” column of the Poway Progress issue for September 1, 1894:

“Joseph Foster has bought the property at 1658 Front Street, San Diego, as a temporary home for his children, whom he intends to give the benefit of a city education.”

The entry also noted that Mr. Foster’s mother-in-law, a Mrs. Swycaffer, “will take charge of the house and look after the welfare of the children. Her younger son James goes along also to attend the city schools.”

There were of course, schools out there in rural north county, often one or two-room structures where multiple grades were taught. So one could understand someone like Foster, who was in a position to do it, seeking what he thought was a better educational environment for his children.

And, as I said, this wasn’t by any means unusual, as witness this entry in the “Local Notes” column of the San Diego Evening Tribune for March 30, 1903:

“Ed Fletcher has sold Frank Salmons, the Pala merchant, a lot at the corner of 24th and D streets, where Mr. Salmons will build, it being his intention to bring his children here to be educated while he is conducting a store at the Indian reservation at Pala, having obtained a traders’ license from the government.”

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