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Monday, April 18, 2016

Georgia #RevWar Heroines Trilogy: Mammy Kate

1 - Mammy Kate

Stephen Heard
Around 1759, Virginian Stephen Heard moved his family to St. Paul’s Parish, Georgia, comprised mostly of Wilkes County. His French and Indian War service under General Washington granted him 150 acres 14 miles from the mouth of the Little River. In this area not yet secure against Creek and Cherokee Indians, Heard and his brother Barnard build a stockade enclosing a cluster of cabins, the early origin of the town of Washington.

Heard cast his lot with the colonists in the war against Britain, which cost him dearly. Tories turned his wife and young adopted daughter out into the snow, causing them to die of exposure. After taking part in the Battle of Kettle Creek, Heard was captured and sentenced to death.

In steps the patriot leader’s six-foot mammy, Kate, regarded by an 1820 letter writer to be the “biggest and tallest” black woman he had ever seen. Of pure African descent, Mammy Kate claimed descent from a great king. Kate and her husband, known as Daddy Jack, mounted two of Heard’s Arabians, Lightfoot and Silverheels, and rode fifty miles to Augusta. 

Mammy Kate
To ingratiate herself with the Tories, Kate offered to wash their clothes over a period of a couple months. Close to time for Heard’s scheduled hanging, she appealed to the British officer to extend this service to her master as well, so he would not die in dirty clothing. When she received permission, Kate entered Heard’s cell with a large, covered basket. She left carrying Heard, a handsome man of small stature, in that basket - on her head - right past the guard!

Lightfoot, Silverheels and Daddy Jack waited on the outskirts of town. Heard told Mammy Kate for her act of service he would set her free. She replied that he might do that, but she would never set him free. Thanks to Kate, Heard served a brief stint as governor of Georgia. He gave his loyal servants freedom, a tract of land and a four-room house, but Kate continued to serve the family until her death.

In 2013, the Georgia Sons of the American Revolution made Mammy Kate the first black woman below the Mason-Dixon to receive a bronze medallion for her patriotic service. Daddy Jack was awarded as well, the medals placed on their graves.


  1. Very interesting post Denise. I always learn interesting things about our history on CQ.

  2. Wow ... in a basket on her head!? Incredible. Truth really is stranger than fiction. :)

  3. That is a treasure of a story. Thank you for sharing!!!

  4. Thanks, y'all! Yep, the coolest stories are always the historical ones.


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