Governor of Georgia. Heard was born in Hanover County, Virginia to Bridgett Carroll and John Heard Jr. His paternal grandfather, John Heard Sr., had arrived in America from Ireland about 1720 with six sons that migrated south; thus, most of the Heard families in the South descend from this man. Heard left school for the chance of adventure in the French and Indian War. It was there that he and his brothers met George Washington. The chance of adventure became a learning experience of invaluable military skills, which lead him to the rank of captain. For his service in the war, he was awarded 150 acres in the wildness of what is now Wilkes County, Georgia. It was there that Fort Heard was built for protection from the Creek and Cherokee Indians; this fort later became Washington, Georgia, which is the county seat of Wilkes County. When the American Revolutionary War started, Heard joined with the Colonists to fight for independence from England. While absent from his home, a group of English Tories forced his wife, Jane Germany, and daughter out of the house into the snow, thus causing them to freeze to death. Despite this personal loss, on February 14, 1779, Heard took part in the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County, which was a turning point in the war for the colonists. Later in the war, the Tories captured Heard. While waiting to be executed for treason by the Tories, his servants Mammy Kate and Daddy Jack plotted for his escape. Mammy Kate took a huge basket of food, clean clothes, and blankets to the jail. Upon coercing the jailer to let her have a last visit with her master, she replaced the food with Heard, covered him with a blanket, and then they escaped. From this point, he was a "wanted man" by the Tories. Heard, who was a Justice of the Peace, was later elected to Georgia's Executive Council and for a short time, between May 24, 1780 and August 18, 1781, was the governor of Georgia. Since the Tories had overrun Georgia, the capitol of Georgia was moved to Fort Heard for a time just before Heard fled for his life to the Carolinas. After the war, Heard returned to his home and was awarded 6,850 acres of land for valiant service in the Revolutionary War. This land was cut from Wilkes County to form the new Elbert County, GA. Soon after, Heard built his stately home naming it Heardmont. Heard did remarry to Elizabeth Darden of Virginia. To this union five daughters and four sons were born. Education being one of the top priorities for all of his children, Heard became one of the first and primary patrons of the Moravian School, an educational institution for women now called Salem College in Salem, North Carolina. Being a member of the Whig political party, Heard continued to be a public servant on the local level in various positions including Georgia House of Representatives from 1794 to 1795. After a long productive life, he died at Heardmont and was buried in the family cemetery near the home. The monument above his grave bears the following inscription: "Sacred to the Memory of Col Stephen Heard. He was a soldier of the American Revolution, and fought with the Great Washington for the liberties of his country." Mammy Kate and Daddy Jack were buried in the same cemetery. He is the namesake of Heard County, which was created in west central Georgia in 1830.
Bio by: Linda Davis