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Foss, Robert H.

Born: 1814-05-17 New Hampshire

Died: 1893-07-28 Dover, New Hampshire

Flourished: Chicago, Illinois

Robert H. Foss was a businessman, city government official, and a state legislator. Born in Stratford, New Hampshire, Foss spent his early years on the family farm preparing, along with his brothers, for work in a cotton factory. Finding that he had an affinity for mechanics, Foss moved from New Hampshire to Poughkeepsie, New York in 1837, where he worked in a locomotive shop until 1840. In the spring of 1840, Foss moved to Chicago, Illinois, returning after a short time to Poughkeepsie, where he and his brother designed and constructed a planing machine, which they brought with them back to Chicago. In 1843, Foss and his brothers established a business to sand, plane, match, and dress lumber. The company also did repair work, and Foss and his brothers proved very successful. In January 1847, he married Harriet Spear. In addition to his lumber business, Foss became involved in Chicago politics, serving as alderman of the Fourth Ward from 1847 to 1849. In 1850, he was living in Chicago's Fourth Ward and owned real property valued at $8,000. In 1854, Cook County voters elected Foss to represent them in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served from January to February 1855. In 1858, Foss discontinued his planing business and became partner in Chapin, Marsh & Foss, a lumber business that continued until 1874. In 1860, he was living in Chicago's Fifth Ward and owned real property valued at $100,000 and had a personal estate of $25,000. Foss was a Republican and a Freemason.

Proceedings of the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors-General of the Thirty-Third and Last Decree Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (1893), 153-54; John Moses and Joseph Kirkland, eds., History of Chicago Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1895), 1:115; George W. Hotchkiss, Industrial Chicago: The Lumber Interests (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894), 219-20; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Cook County, 5 January 1847, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Ward 4, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 262; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 221; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 5, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 281; Gravestone, Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, IL.