Granny women were healers and midwives in Southern Appalachia and the Ozarks, documented as practicing from the 1880s to the 1930s. They were usually elder women in the community and were often the only practitioners of health care in the poor rural areas of Southern Appalachia. They seldom expected or received payment, and were respected as authorities on herbal healing and childbirth. Their role is well-described by John C. Campbell in The Southern Highlander and His Homeland
There is something magnificent in many of the older women with their stern theology -- part mysticism, part fatalism -- and their deep understanding of life. ..."Granny" -- and one may be a grandmother young in the mountains -- if she has survived the labor and tribulation of her younger days, has gained a freedom and a place of irresponsible authority in the home hardly rivaled by the men of the family. ...Though superstitious she has a fund of common sense, and she is a shrewd judge of character. In sickness she is the first to be consulted, for she is generally something of an herb doctor, and her advice is sought by the young people of half the countryside in all things from a love affair to putting a new web in the loom.
- John C. Campbell, The Southern Highlander and his Homeland, Russell Sage foundation, 1921, pg. 140. http://www.archive.org/details/southernhighland00camp