Looking Back

A thoughtful look backward can lead to a fruitful look forward. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday as our family visited the origins of the Stiles family – Blue Ridge, GA. We visited homesteads and cemeteries, looked at pictures and tombstones, and heard stories and memories that sounded like legends and tales. What a great day!

As we drove home down the winding, mountain road, God opened our hearts once again to a couple of verses that have meant much to our family at various intersections: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1) and “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecc. 7:1). Weird as it may sound, the day of the death of the people we remembered Tuesday– all the Stiles of the past – was better than the day of their birth. Why? Because of how they lived their life! They left us the legacy of a “good name,” and we left motivated to carry it forward.

This is the home where it all started! Over 100 years old, Rufus Theodore Stiles moved here in the early 1900’s and occupied this residence with his wife, Za, and their 13 chidlren. My grandfather, George (whom we affectionately knew as “Pop”), was born and raised here. This house sat on top of a hill that overlooked Blue Ridge (see pic below), and it was from here that “Ruf” (pronounced like “roof” — that’s what Za called him) served as Mayor, Clerk of Court, and a Geogia State Legislator.
This is a picture in tribute to RT Stiles (the man I am “initialed” after) during his time as Clerk of Court in Blue Ridge. This picure sits in the lobby of the current Fannin County Courthouse. I am pictured here with RT’s grandson (my dad) and his great, great grandson (my son).
This old pot, housed in the shed out back, was used to boil the water needed for washing, also done in the shed. And this arrangment was actually an upgrade from having to do the laundry outside; they now had some shelter! Makes you grateful for indoor laundry with modern appliances, eh?
This is the very second-floor window that my dad, pictured here, fell out of when he was two. (You can see why it was easy for a toddler to fall out of it; look how low the bottom is!) He landed right next to a 2-foot metal stake that was used as a ground for the home’s electricity. Though not pictured, the stake is still there, too. Obviously, my dad chuckles now, but I don’t think his parents did then. Oh, the providence of our sovereign God!
This tree in the backyard has been the #1 playhouse for many generations of children since one of the Stiles boys, Fred, planted it in the early 50’s. It was my kids’ turn for a day!
This is the homestead of the Lindseys and of my grandmother (whom we knew as Mammaw), just about 12 miles away from Blue Ridge in Morganton, GA. Family legend says that George (“Pop”) would walk the 12 miles across the river each Friday so he could see his girlfriend Irene (“Mammaw”) as soon as possible on the weekend. No more info about the rest of the weekends has ever survived. 🙂
Two other cool stories about this house:
1. They eventually got married in this house (downstairs), and were one of two events on this day in this home. The other one? Just upstairs in the room to the left Mammaw’s brother’s wife, Louise, was giving birth to their first son (Joe, Jr).
2. My dad was born in this house in the room just to the left of the front door in 1937. However, no wedding followed hs birth.
Our third child, Breanna Lindsey Stiles kneels next to the Lindsey headstone, the family name which we used for her middle name.
Dad and I kneel behind the grave of Rufus and Za, my dad’s grandfather and the patriarch of the Stiles family.
Here we’re all gathered around the main Stiles headstone in the Blue Ridge cemetery.

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