Biography Corner, page 1

Union County, Georgia                                                                      The GAGenWeb Project

A Series of Union County Biographies
written by Martha Clement
and other Visitors

In these brief biographical sketches of those individuals of yesterday who made Union County memories, author Martha Clement has combined her love of the area with meticulous historical research. In some cases, she has not been able to obtain full names, dates, or locations, especially when they involve places outside of Union County. If you have any genealogical information about these prominent people, please contact us and we will work it into the article.

We'd also like to encourage all of our visitors to contribute biographies of their ancestors--we'll gladly edit all submissions, so you don't have to worry about grammar and spelling. All articles should be no more than 600 words in length, and only deceased individuals should be profiled.

Midwife of the Blue Ridge Mountains

24 Oct 1865 – 24 Sep 1953

Did you ever stop to think of the magnitude of birthing a baby in the rural back road areas of our beloved Blue Ridge Mountains? Especially when doctors were few and far between and hospitals were unheard of until the latter part of the 20th century? For many babies, their entrance into the world was aided by old fashioned midwives. One such memorable midwife was Union County’s Amanda (Mandy) “Granny” Foster.

Granny, as she was called, was still helping to birth babies as late as 1940, when she was 83 years old. In the forty to fifty years that she was a midwife, she speculated that she had delivered nearly 500 babies. During all that time, she had not once lost a mother or a baby and she attended the birthings without the help of a medical doctor, with the exception of one time. The most children she ever had to deliver in one family were eleven babies in the John Dockery family.

Because she was not licensed to practice medicine, her only tools to aid in comforting the laboring mother-to-be was genuine “mountain medicine” such as “mebbe some black pepper tea, or ginger tea, or sometimes weed tea” as she was quoted as saying. Granny delivered babies from all over Union and Fannin counties, being called out in all hours of the day and in all kinds of weather. Long before the first automobile came to Union County, many of the fathers-to-be would come to fetch her on mule or horseback. In the year 1943, during a big snow and freeze, 78 year old Granny rode a horse one last time to attend a birthing.

Granny married JOHN FOSTER in 1888; she was 23, he was 22. They went on to have eight children of their own. One of the hardest tasks that Granny had to do as a midwife was to birth her own baby, without the help of anyone. Granny and John, married for 61 years, lived in a four room cottage on Upper Dooly Creek Road in the Dooly district. John died November 3, 1949. Granny died on September 24, 1953, at the age of 87.

What a legacy that Granny left behind! She presided over the births of a considerable portion of Union County’s population through the years. It is probably safe to say that she even brought into the world the children and grandchildren of the first babies that she helped birth. It is fitting that Granny Foster is the first of our Union County mountain folks to be profiled in “Biography Corner.”

Sources: “The Atlanta Journal” article, January 9, 1949
Union County website graves database
U. S. census, Union County, GA, 1870 through 1930

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This page was last updated on Jan. 17, 2005