It was a chilly winter day in Polk County, Georgia (1)   when nineteen year old Frances Rainwater, daughter of Joshua Rainwater and Polly Peterson, married eighteen year old Reuben Ayers, son of Martin Ayers and Sarah Simmons.

Mary (Polly) Peterson
Polly Peterson Rainwater
Frances’ mother
Photo shared by: Trudy Capps

I wonder, who was there to witness their marriage?  Did Frances have a special dress?  Did family and friends gather afterwards to celebrate her special day?

Frances was the youngest of the three Rainwater daughters and the baby in a family of six children.  Her family lived along the beautiful winding Tallapoosa River in Haralson County, Georgia. Their father, Joshua, supported their family by farming. Their family was among the early members of the Bethany Baptist Church (2)  located on the outskirts of the current town of Tallapoosa.  If Frances was like other girls of her time, she grew up helping her mother, Polly, with cooking, sewing and caring for their small farm animals.

Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, GA
Bethany Baptist Church
Haralson County, GA
(original location but newer building)
Photo shared by: David Rawlings

By the time Frances married Reuben on January 24, 1856, her older siblings Mariah, Abner and Olivia, were married and living nearby with their spouses and children. Siblings Matilda and John were still at home and would not marry for several more years.

In October of 1857, Reuben and Frances welcomed a baby girl to their home. They named her Mary Ann,  but called her Molly.  By the1860 US Census (3), they were living just across the Georgia/Alabama border in the rolling hills of Calhoun County, Alabama and Reuben provided for the family by farming.  Frances’ sister, Olivia, and her husband, John Ganus,  and their three sons Frank, John and James R. were living nearby. As a farmer’s wife and the mother of a little girl,  Frances settled into life, with her older sister Olivia nearby for friendship and support.

Near Calhoun Alabama  Wikimpedia Public domain
Overlooking Calhoun, Alabama
Wikipedia Commons

By August of 1861, Reuben, Frances, and Molly returned to Haralson county, Georgia where Reuben enlisted with Company A,  35th Georgia Infantry. Although Frances’ mother, Polly, had passed away, Frances’s father,  Joshua, and several of her siblings lived close enough to be a help and support while Reuben was away at war. Typically soldiers’ wives had to care for their farms and their families while they anxiously awaited for any news about their husbands and their regiments.  I am sure Frances was no exception.

Joshua Rainwater Family

Joshua RAINWATER  (b. 13 Nov 1791 SC d. 15 August 1878 Upshur TX) & Mary PETERSON  (b. abt 1794 SC  d. bef 1860 GA

  • Matilda RAINWATER b. 10 Aug 1821 Pendleton Dist, SC – 16 Sep 1904 Haralson Co, GA 
  • Mariah RAINWATER  b. 1826  d 1903 SC – 1903 Talledega, AL
  • Abner RAINWATER b. 1827 d. 1908  b. 16 Apr 1827 SC – 23 Sep 1908 Hamilton, TX
  • Olivia RAINWATER b. 20 Feb 1831 Hall Co., GA  – 12 Sep 1902 Okmulgee, OK 
  • John RAINWATER b. 19 Jun 1832  GA – 14 Jun 1890 Upshur, TX
  • Frances RAINWATER b. Jul 1837 GA  – 1913 Polk Co., GA

1.  Marriage  Reuben Ayers to Frances Rainwater 24 January 1856, “Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Oct 2014), 0419307 (005191034) > image 94 of 415.
2. Lois Owens Newman and Carroll County Genealogical Society, Haralson County A History (Carrollton, GA: Carroll County Genealogical Society, 1994), 93.
3. 1860 U.S. census, Calhoun, Alabama, population schedule, Oaklevel PO, p. 42 (penned), dwelling 302, family 302, Ruben Ayres; digital images, ( accessed 23 October 2014); from Family History Library Film: 803004. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Please follow and like us:

10 thoughts on “Winter Rainwater Wedding – Part 1

  1. Rainwater – that is an unusual surname. Is it Native American?

    I wonder about the weddings of my ancestors too. Other bloggers display beautiful old wedding photos of brides in glamorous gowns and huge bouquets surrounded by a real wedding party of bridesmaids and groomsmen. I have no such records of big weddings. I picture all of my folks standing glumly in the parlor of the minister's house or office and then heading home to feed the cows.

  2. Excellent story Michelle. I, like Wendy, have not a single picture of an ancestor wedding. I do have a couple of pics of my grandparents on their wedding day. Nothing fancy though. I don't know how, but I have not been reading your blog. I just added your blog to the list on my own blog of "blogs I follow." I'll be reading yours now on a regular basis.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. And there you have the source of a lot of contention among Rainwater researchers. There is the one side that says they are Native American and then there is the side that says they are not. Many were told by parents and grandparents that their Rainwater ancestors were, but those that have been doing research much longer than I have say that the name origin is German and that they have traced the name back to Reign Waters. I don't know frankly. I fall among those that was told that my second great grandmother, Olivia Rainwater (Frances' sister) was Native American. It's kind of a hot topic among researchers and many feel pretty strong about whichever side they are on. I was told they were, but the research doesn't seem to support it, so there you have it.

    Like you, I do not have pictures of ancestors in beautiful gowns at elaborate weddings, but suspect it was worked into the routine of the day.

  4. Why thank you Wendy! I guess you, Wendy and I are all in the same club when it comes to wedding photos. Thank you for following my blog and I am looking forward to pictures of your office remodel! Very exciting.

  5. I'm surprised that the church where they were married still exists. It looks beautiful. I with the crowd who has no wedding photos. Nary a one in my whole (tiny) collection of photos. Of all the big events in a person's life you'd think that would be the one event to be photographed. But, not among my ancestors. I suppose, with the internet, there's always the possibility that some descendant somewhere has photos, will scan them and post them. I don't have much hope but I would be thrilled.

  6. The building itself is new and is not the original, but it is in the same location. I think we are in the same boat on the photo thing. I don't know why some seem to have so many and others like us do not.

    I don't think most of my folks had much money, so I suspect that plays into the no photos at the wedding issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top