Althia Burns-Franklin


June 18, 1921 - October 9, 2008
Role: Cowhand Family
Maiden name: Lewis

Althia was the daughter of Charlie Lewis Jr. and Georgie Best Lewis. Althia’s grandfather, Charlie Lewis Sr., was likely bought by Seabourn [Seabron] Lewis and brought to South Texas right before the Civil War. After the Emancipation Proclamation, nine year old Charlie moved to the Parks Ranch near Fannin in Goliad County, Texas. Althia was born there. Her family worked mainly on the West Ranch and the Parks Ranch. Althia remembers her grandmother telling the story of Juneteenth when “Uncle” Gus and “Aunt” Ester rode thru the bottom yelling “We free, we free”. Thereafter, Emancipation was celebrated on June 19th. Althia’s father had a small ranch in the middle of the Swickheimer Ranch where he broke horses. Althia was able to learn to ride broncos giving her a life long love for riding. Her humor was boundless and her astute perceptions of life in her community added invaluable material to this project.

Introduction to Althia Burns-Franklin

Louise S. O'Connor
00:01:19
Voice of Althia Burns-Franklin
00:01:32
Althia Burns-Franklin - You all were Youngblood's. Well, Uncle Jackson, in my day, went by Lewis; my grandfather. And I knew they were full brothers, but you know they always take the name of whoever the slave owner were. And I said, somewhere down there in Lewis' Bend, Grandpa had to pick up that name because if you ever looked at one of them, one of them was in the store. They weren't used to these mirrors. And Uncle George went in there and he saw himself and he hollered, "How you, Brother Charlie?" Because see, they called one another "Brother." So, "How you Brother Charlie?" And see, it was him, and he thought he'd seen Brother Charlie!

Alice Cook - I heard that!

Althia Burns-Franklin - You I guess he'd never seen himself in the mirror. He didn't know him. It just bound to have been Brother Charlie standing there! "How you Brother Charlie?"

"Them folks look familiar!"

Althia Burns-Franklin - Well, I know they said he did that. And I often wondered, I said, "I'd just like to know what became…." See, I never heard Grandpa say anything about his daddy or his mother. He probably didn't know 'em. But, I know he said he was nine years old when slavery broke, and he didn't have a hard time because he was the little water boy. And then after that, he got up on the Parks Ranch and then that's where he stayed until he died.

Louise O'Connor – This is your grandfather? Charlie Lewis?

Althia Burns-Franklin - Charlie Lewis. Charlie Lewis Senior because my daddy's Charlie Lewis too.

Documents

“Walkin ’ through the bottoms in spring is wonderful. That’s when things are in bloom. The haws, dogwoods, and plums are the sweetest things you would ever want to smell.”

Tales From the San'tone River Bottom: A Cultural History: Origins (Vol. 1)