McDonough renames local streets to honor two prominent Black midwives

Together, Hattie Miranda Stewart Barnes and Mary Alberta Childs delivered nearly 2,000 babies in McDonough.

Credit: Henry Herald

Credit: Henry Herald

A street dedication at the McDonough Square in May was a memorable moment for Deonté Smith and his family.

The McDonough resident was elated to be celebrating the official renaming of two streets along the McDonough one-way pair after his great-grandmother, Mary Alberta Childs, and her mother Hattie Miranda Stewart Barnes. The mother-daughter duo were prominent midwives in the McDonough community throughout the 1900s. Together, the pair delivered nearly 2,000 babies in the city. The number was calculated from the times the family began their midwifery careers — Barnes, from 1910 to 1950 and Childs, from 1940 to 1960.

“I was just excited to see their names, and from the pictures I took, their names in the sky,” Smith said as he took a third drive through the signs after installation.

Credit: Henry Herald

Credit: Henry Herald

The endeavor was a long time coming for Smith who submitted his request to the McDonough Council last spring. The council moved to approve the recommendations made for the former Jonesboro and Keys Ferry streets, to be renamed Mary Childs Street, and the street currently known as Geranium Drive to be renamed Hattie Barnes Street during a regularly scheduled meeting in the fall.

Smith was all smiles as his direct and extended family members piled into the city’s square to commemorate the moment. His mother, Linda, shared his passion to document their family’s history.

“I’m so proud of my son for being inquisitive about his history and his family,” she said as part of her opening remarks. “He can now go with his children and his children’s children and introduce them to the streets, and tell them about our family history.”

“What better way to celebrate the birth of our city with the highlight of these two midwives who brought new life into the world,” said McDonough Mayor Sandra Vincent. “Their selfless passion and dedication is a testament to the best of human nature.”

The reflection was special to Councilman Rufus Stewart who currently holds the District 1 seat. Stewart, Childs’ cousin, was happy to see the honor come to fruition. He reflected on the stories his family told him of Childs who delivered him to his parents. She even influenced them when it came time for them to vote, Stewart said.

“They made sure our people were cared for,” Stewart said.

Smith’s sister took in the dedication as she stood in front of a portrait unveiling her great grandmother and her mother.

“I always admired my brother for doing this,” she said as the ceremony came to an end.

“I didn’t really know much of (my family’s history) outside of talking to my grandma, and the rest of the family, but to get this information out to the public like this — I admire him for that.”

Credit: Henry Herald

Credit: Henry Herald


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