American Pioneer Chronicles:
Southern Women: the heart, sweat, soul—the foundation of our Nation
Rainey was born about 1800 in Africa, forcibly brought to Georgia and sold to William Hardwick, a local farmer sometime before 1830. She met George Brown and had several children, including George Jr. and Isham, who were also born enslaved. She was affiliated with the Ohoopee Baptist Church in Tennille and although her husband would die before the Civil War, Rainey received emancipation and immediately took her family to Savannah for a better chance at life and liberty. She would live another decade, raising her children and working through Reconstruction. Local girl May was born to unknown mother in Davisboro. May’s mother was enslaved and worked through challenging times raising May and her other children. May married George Jr., Rainey’s son, and begin a family of their own. May, born about 1836 Sandersville, Georgia, had her work cut out for her as daily life was a constant struggle. According to the Antioch Baptist Church records, May’s brother-in-law Isham escaped slavery when Mary was nine years old, however even as an adult, May, her children, husband George Brown, and her in-laws George and Raney, were still under the ownership of William Hardwick, a local landowner in Washington County. May produced seven children in eleven years, most born just after the Civil War brought emancipation. George would finally be permitted to vote, although it was decades off for May, who set up home in nearby Davisboro. George became employed as a farmer certainly as a tenant worker and May would help with the farm work, tend the kids, and keep up the house, even though it was not their own property. May would not live to see her grandchildren, but she realized she gave them an opportunity at freedom. Both May and George died in Washington County in the 1870s. Born enslaved, May started a family just after the Civil War, continuing a fight for the abolition through Reconstruction and preparing her progeny to fight as Jim Crow commenced, pushing onward through significantly challenging and arduous times, arriving stronger than ever!
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