It is Mason County’s oldest cold case: the shooting death of Luther Foster.
Foster was a prominent community member and leader in the early days of Ludington.
“James Ludington owned all the land around here, or most of it, and started his lumber business here. He lived his whole life is an adult life in a couple hotels in Milwaukee,” said James Jensen, President of the Board of Directors for the Mason County Historical Society.
“So we hired a superintendent and that superintendent was Luther Foster who lived here in Ludington and worked on his behalf,” explained Jensen.
And Foster quickly made a name for himself in the community.
“He was involved in a couple of churches, one of them was the Congregational Church, which still exists in Ludington. It’s now called the Community Church. He was very active in the temperance movement he was a musician, an actor, very involved in in the community. His wife was the bell of the local society,” said Jensen.
But that life on notoriety would be shattered one night in late June of 1876.
“They were awakened by some noise in their house and they discovered an intruder or intruders. I’m not quite sure of exactly how many people were involved, but they were burglarizing the home. The story that has come down through the years is that Luther Foster chased that person and or those people out of his home, up the street and got into a confrontation with one of them. Luther Foster was shot. His wife discovered him. And he did live a while, but not too long. And he passed away and the murder that night shocked the community,” said Jensen.
But just who broke into the Foster’s home and why quickly turned into a mystery.
“Without a doubt they believed in the conspiracy theory back in 1876 was that there was a black book that was in Foster’s home that contained, I guess basically you call it company secrets, perhaps some nefarious doings and so forth, and that that was what was being stolen and that’s why Luther Foster change chased this burglar out of his home, I don’t know if any of that’s true. I don’t know if anybody knows that it’s true, but it made a great story,” said Jensen.
Despite Foster meeting untimely end, his impact would continue to be felt in the Ludington area, with nods to his contributions.
Today you’ll find Foster Street, home for years to Foster elementary.
And just as Foster’s legacy has endured, so has the mystery of who killed him.
You can take a deeper dive into the death of Foster by listening to our