Foster spent the last years of his life under wretched circumstances. His wife Jane had seen him no more since 1862. He introduced himself to one of his admirers even as the wreck of Stephen Collins Foster. Alcohol, bad diet, poverty and depressions have destroyed himself within a few years.

Stephen Foster’s brother Morrison in Cleveland got a telegram of George Cooper with the message of his death on January 14th, 1864. Stephen had died in the New York Bellevue Hospital a day before, only three days after his admission to the hospital. He was buried in the family grave on the Allegheny Cemetery on January 21th.



A purse was part of his few personal belongings with a hardly considerable amount of money into civil war currency into it. One found subjects a little scrap of paper in it with a couple of words in his handwriting:

his purse


-- Idea for a song?

Cooper’s telegram

Foster’s grave


Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d a way!
Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the eares of life’s busy throng,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
Mermaids are chaunting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.
Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E’en as the morn on the streamlet and sea:
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!



“Foster possessed a fund of plaintive melody which, had it coursed through more respected channels in art, might have given him a proud position as a composer. As it was, he can hardly be said to have been more then an amateur writer. We believe that he was only tolerably acquainted with the rules of composition, and in putting his ideas upon paper did so rather as a recreation, for he was engaged in some active mercantile calling until within a short period before his death.”
“Obituary” of the culture report Round Table, 1864