Foster was born to a family of Virginia Quakers, and came to Indiana via Kentucky with his parents. He trained as a cabinet maker in Johnson County, but found his vocation as a trader. Leaving home, he moved into the Miami Reservation on the Seven Mile Strip near Burlington, gradually relocating east and establishing a trading post in Center Township. He bought 600 acres of damp, buggy land from a Miami chief by way of a Fort Wayne land speculator.
In 1844, Foster was the county’s first merchant and largest landowner. He lobbied for the establishment of a new town, to be the county seat, on his land, agreeing to donate 40 acres along the Wildcat Creek. In June of 1844, the first stake was driven to mark the southwest corner of the downtown public square. Within the next year, the first court in the county was convened in his home. The first sermon preached in the county took place there, as well, and those religious meetings led directly to the establishment of Grace Methodist Church, which was built on land donated by David Foster. He donated the location for the Normal School, as well, along with a right of way and depot location for the county’s first railroad line, and he was a founding member of the county’s first bank, the Indian Reserve Bank.
Learn more about Foster's role in the early history of Howard County and Kokomo and the bank robbery that nearly bankrupted him at https://howardcountymuseum.org/howard-county-history