James Foster was born 1 April 1775 but neither the
locale nor his parentage is known. He was baptized before 1834. James Foster
was married to Abigail Glidden by whom he fathered six children.
He joined the Prophet Joseph
Smith in the famous Zion's Camp expedition to succor the Suffering
Saints of Zion in 1834. James was ordained an Elder by 1835. He was privileged
to participate in the solemn assembly in the Kirtland Temple 1837.
Elder Foster was ordained a President of First Quorum
of Seventy 6 April 1837 under the hands of Sidney
Rigdon and Hyrum Smith, to fill a vacancy
caused by Leonard Rich joining the High Priests
quorum. Strangely, he was also called as a temporary member of Kirtland
High Council simultaneous with his calling as Seventy 1837.
When the flames of apostasy arose in Kirtland he
joined the prophet and the faithful in the organization and march of the
famed Kirtland Camp of 1838 in which those
loyal to the Prophet removed to Zion in Missouri. Scarcely a year later
Elder Foster was expelled from Missouri in 1839.
James was tried for impropriety at April 1841 general
conference in Nauvoo. Based on the charges and testimony, it was initially
decided to remove him from Church rolls. Brother Foster requested the right
to speak in his own behalf which right was granted. The History of the
Church does not record the extent or content of his remarks nor whether
they involved confession or denial, but they must have been convincing
and persuasive for the Council reversed its decision and he retained his
positions in the Church. It appears that Elder Foster, instead of gathering
with the Saints at Nauvoo, settled at Jacksonville, Morgan county, Ill.,
and had no direct communication with his brethren. It was also reported
at Nauvoo that he took sick and died Dec. 21, 1841, in the 66th year of
his age, and was buried in Morgan county, Ill., near the Illinois river.
(The History of the Church implies that Foster was dropped from the First
Quorum of the Seventy prior to his death but the notation is somewhat ambiguous.)
Whatever the reason for Elder Foster's departure from the Presidency of
the Seventy, Albert P. Rockwood was subsequently
called to fill the vacancy.