In Memory

Della Foster, Age 40

This site is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother Della Foster who died December 23, 2006 at the age of 107 years old. She was in good health, and mentally alert until the moment of her transition.

Born October 29, 1899,on a farm outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mama Della was an inspiration to family, friends, community, and strangers that met her. People wanted to be in her presence and touch her. She looked deeply into their eyes and told them that she loved them.

“I can remember my life from 6 years old,” Mama Della said.

Mama Della remembered her grandmother and grandfather on her mother’s side. She remembered, even her great grandmother, who was 108 years old when she died.

Her father, Grant Foster, and her mother, Eliza O’Conner Foster had four children: Della Foster 10/29/1899,Robert Foster, Annie Bell Foster, and Willie Foster. Her parents separated when she was six years old. Grant moved to New Orleans and remarried. Her mother, Eliza stayed with her grandmother Rose Riley until she met and married a sharecropper, George Hart, a widower who had six children. They then had two children together: Earnest Hart, and Beatrice Hart. All together there were 12 children in the house.

“A few blacks owned their own land, but we didn’t. The Lemons owned the land that we lived on in East Feliciana Parish until I was 17.”
“I went to school at Olive Branch Church. We only went to school six weeks out of the year. Teachers whipped your palms with a hard, leather strap when you didn’t know your lessons. I only got as far as the third grade. The rest of the time we were in the field working.”

“My daddy was a little man, but good looking. I loved my daddy. He called me “Black Gal”. I only wish I had a picture of my daddy.”

“I lived on the farm until I was 17, then I came to New Orleans. I worked at the TP train Station as a dishwasher making $7 a week; washing sheets at a “rooming house”, washing white family’s clothes on washboards; and raising white family’s babies. I started working on premises for different people. My last job was with the Heberts.

They were good people, lived on Napoleon Avenue. I nursed that oldest boy from a baby, I stayed there while Mrs. Hebert had three more and I nursed all of them. I was there when all of them got married and had children of their own.” Oh, honey, I went through so much in my life, but God has kept me. I prays for everybody and all the children.”

Church, Sewing, Gardening, Dancing, Children are the gems that made Mama Della’s life easier to bear.

Della Foster, Age 105

Mama Della worked hard most of life, saving, sending money to help other family members. She helped send her three grandchildren, and four great grandchildren to college.

My father, Thomas Franklin 1919-1984 was her only child, but he gave her three grandchildren. They are: Vanora Franklin Legaux, Shelia M. Franklin, and Karen Franklin Williams. Great grandchildren are: Sarita Harris, Sean C. Harris. Tinishia Legaux, Charlotte Legaux, and Grace Ellen Franklin. Great great grandchildren are Sean C. Harris Jr., Asia Harris, and Sekou Lumumba Woodard.

Mama Della had always been a major part of our lives. Her prayers molded me. She laid the foundation, and insisted on us having good manners and a good education. Until December 2003, Mama Della lived alone and was super independent.

This is part of her story. I am Vanora the Storyteller and I tell her story “The Autobiography of Della Foster: One Hundred Years, One step At A Time”.