Murphy James Foster


Francis Nicholls portrait
  • Born: Franklin, Louisiana, 1849
  • Education: Washington and Lee University, Cumberland University, University of Louisiana (Tulane) Law School
  • Career: Lawyer, Legislator, Governor, U.S. Senator, Collector of Customs for New Orleans
  • Died: Franklin, 1921

Murphy J. Foster was raised on a plantation in Franklin, Louisiana. He joined the Franklin Lodge No. 57 while he was studying law. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 5, 1870, passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on May 9, 1870, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on May 12, 1870.

Foster began his career practicing law in New Orleans and then served as a state senator for 12 years. In his last year as President Pro Tem of the Senate, Foster took a stand in opposition to the Louisiana Lottery. It was this opposition that earned him a nomination for gubernatorial candidate on the anti-lottery ticket.

Foster won the election and began his first term in 1892, followed by a second term in 1896. Under Foster's administration, the Louisiana Lottery was outlawed and a new state constitution was adopted. Foster also had the opportunity to come to the aid of citizens of Louisiana experiencing serious drought and floods, as well as citizens of Nebraska who received a twenty-car train load of molasses, sugar, rice, salt, and other staples during their drought of 1893 and 1894.

After his second term as governor, Foster was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1901 to 1913. Upon his return to Louisiana, Foster was appointed by Woodrow Wilson to be the United States Collector of Customs in New Orleans. He remained in that position until his death in 1921. Foster's son and namesake was a member of the same lodge, and his grandson, Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, followed family tradition when he was elected governor and served two terms from 1996 to 2004.

Click on thumbnails below to view a full-size image:

Member card, Franklin Lodge No. 57

Member card of MJ Foster, Jr., son of Governor MJ Foster and father of Governor Mike Foster, Franklin Lodge No. 57

Initiated an entered apprentice, Franklin Lodge No. 57, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1870

Junior Warden, Work & Returns, Franklin Lodge No. 57, 1871

Junior Warden, Franklin Lodge No. 57, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1871

In Memoriam, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1901