The Great Depression, both world wars, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the building of Thurmond Dam and the Savannah River Bridge - Ila Bartles has lived through them all.
''Before the bridge was built I can remember crossing the Savannah River by a ferry,'' she said, referring to the Interstate 20 bridge.
On Sunday,, surrounded by friends and family, Bartles celebrated her 100th birthday.
''I think it's wonderful,'' she said Bartles about Sunday's celebration in her honor. ''And I'm glad that I lived to 100. I've still got my mind and I live by myself.''
Ila Bartles (left), being greeted by a friend at the Eubank Blanchard Community Center, said she is glad to have lived to 100.
Photo by Preston Sparks
The party at Eubank Blanchard Community Center was packed with Bartles' family and friends - many of whom stood in a line outside the building waiting to make their way inside to greet Bartles and wish her a happy birthday.
A native of North Carolina, Ms. Bartles moved to the Augusta area when she was 16.
For the past 63 years, she's lived in her home off Tom Bartles Road, in the area known as Phinizy.
She's seen a lot of change in her lifetime, especially in Columbia County.
''I can remember when it was dirt roads from here all the way to Augusta,'' Bartles said. ''Now it's big schools and paved roads. I also remember when the dam was built.''
A homemaker, Bartles spent her days raising nine children and working in the gardens on the 245-acre farm.
''I loved to be outside working in the yard,'' she said. ''It's all I've known, that and raising kids.''
Her son Harry recalls his mother's generosity and kindness.
''Mama fed many a meals in this room, which used to be the back porch,'' he said.
During the depression, people who lived in Augusta would come to work on the Bartles' farm in exchange for food.
Out of her nine children, two are deceased. What about the other seven?
''I've lived long enough to see them all retire,'' Bartles said.
What's her secret to longevity?
''Nine children and hard work,'' she said with a laugh. ''I've never seen a dull minute.''
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