Stephen Heard

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Governor
Stephen Heard
Stephen Heard.jpg
A portrait of Governor Heard
12th Governor of Georgia
In office
May 24, 1780 – August 18, 1781
Preceded by Humphrey Wells
Succeeded by Myrick Davies
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
In office
1779–1795
Personal details
Born Stephen Heard
(1740-11-01)November 1, 1740
Hanover County, Virginia
Died November 15, 1815(1815-11-15)
Heardmont, Elbert County, Georgia
Political party American Whigs
Spouse(s) Jane Germany (-1778), Elizabeth Darden Heard (August 25, 1785- November 11, 1815)
Residence Heardmont
Military service
Allegiance  Great Britain
 United States
Service/branch Kingdom of Great Britain Colonial Militia
Continental Army
Years of service 1754–63 (British Militia)
1775–79 (Continental Army)
Rank

British-Army-Capt(1856-1880)-Collar Insignia.svg Captain (Great Britain)
Army-USA-OF-04.svg

Lieutenant Colonel (United States)

Stephen Heard (November 1, 1740 – November 15, 1815) was the 12th President of the Executive Council of Georgia a position that was, out of necessity, named from the Georgia House of Representatives and was later known as Governor. He served in this position from May 24, 1780 until August 18, 1781. One record lists Heard as resigning as president in 1782.[1]

Heard had fought in the French and Indian War and was a hero of the American Revolutionary War. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Georgia militia under Lieutenant John Dooly.[2] He fought with Gen. Elijah Clarke at the Battle of Kettle Creek where he was captured. Heard was also a friend of George Washington.

After serving as governor, he served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1779 to 1795. Heard was born in Hanover County, Virginia in 1740, and died in Elbert County, Georgia, in 1815, at the age of 75. His home is in Middleton, near Elberton.[3]

Heard's Fort[4] was built in Wilkes County, Georgia as a stockade in 1774, by Stephen Heard. Heard's Fort was designated the Seat of Government for Georgia on February 3, 1780, a position it held until 1781. The Fort set the groundwork for what become the town of Washington, Georgia.

Stephen Heard is the namesake of Heard County, Georgia.[5]

Early Life[edit]

Stephen Heard was born in Hanover County, Virginia on November 1, 1740 to John Heard Jr. and Bridgett Carol Heard, wealthy tobacco farmers. Heard's paternal grandfather, John Sr., arrived in America from Ireland around 1720. Stephen was brought up in Virginia and received his primary education there, this would be the highest level of education Heard would receive.[6]

The French and Indian War[edit]

With the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754 Heard left school in search of honor and adventure in the army. Along with some of his brothers, Heard enlisted in the Virginia colonial regiment under the command of Colonel (at the time) George Washington. This experience gave Heard a thorough understanding of warfare in the frontier which he would go on to use later in his life. During the war, Heard fought valiantly and was promoted by Washington to the rank of Captain. This military collaboration led to a lifetime friendship between George Washington and Stephen Heard. Heard would even go on to name his son George Washington Heard.[7]

Between Wars[edit]

After the French and Indian War the Heard family received a land grant of 150 acres for their service in what is today Wilkes County, Georgia, so Stephen, his brother Barnard, and their father John, moved their families here. This land was near the mouth of the Little River in an area that had not yet been secured from the Creek and Cherokee Indians. Because of this, the family constructed Heard's Fort as a refuge for travelers from Native American attacks and the wilderness. Heard's Fort was completely finished in 1774 and in 1780 would become the city of Washington, Georgia. For a time during the Revolutionary War Heard's Fort would serve as the temporary capitol of Georgia.[8]

The Revolutionary War[edit]

When The Revolutionary War broke out Heard immediately joined the patriot cause along with fellow Georgians Elijah Clarke, Nancy Hart, and John Dooly who also lived in Wilkes County. Unfortunately for the rebels Georgia was very divided on the issue of independence and throughout the war the patriots faced a strong loyalist resistance. So much so that it led to tragedy for Heard. In the winter of 1778 while Stephen was away fighting, a group of Tories stormed his house burned it down and forced his wife Jane, and their adopted daughter out in to a snow storm where they would die from cold exposure. Despite the death of his family Heard continued to fight in the revolution. He participated in the Battle of Kettle Creek, he was involved in the most violent and dangerous part of the fight and according to one source Heard set himself apart by "encouraging his men and leading them to points of danger and vantage." Unfortunately, Heard was captured at Kettle Creek and it would be his last battle of the revolution.

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