Ila Lee Yelton Bartles has seen a lot in her lifetime - the Great Depression, two world wars, women's suffrage, racial segregation and integration, and 19 U.S. presidents.
Today, Bartles celebrates another milestone - her 105th birthday.
"She's a mess,'' Evelyn Wilson said of her mother, whom she says is still full of spunk.
Bartles has lived in her home on Tom Bartles Road in the Phinizy area, north of Appling, for nearly 69 years.
Bartles moved into the house with her husband, for whom the road is named, in December 1937, just before the birth of Wilson, the last of her nine children.
Bartles attributes her longevity to hard work, much of which was from rearing her large family and working on the family farm.
Bartles reared her own children - Lewis, Tom Jr., Harry, Mack, Willard, Bill, Jack, Evelyn, Elizabeth and Jean - in addition to helping rear her brother and sisters after her mother died when she was young.
"She had helped with them, plus she helped raise all of our children," Wilson said.
Her white farmhouse overlooks a pond and is surrounded by several aged oaks. Inside, the house is filled with family photos that are spread across the walls.
"I think it has improved since we've been here," Bartles said of her longtime home. "It is a comfortable home. Home is what you make of it."
Bartles has outlived four of her nine children. She said she knows she's still in charge. She's the matriarch of a large family that spans five generations.
Wilson said that in addition to nine children, her mother has 24 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.
Nearing 105, Bartles does not move well and has round-the-clock care but is still in good health.
"The doctors can't find anything wrong with her," Wilson said. She said she's not sure whether she got her mother's genes for longevity. "She's in better shape than we are."
Wilson said that in honor of Bartles' birthday, her children probably will gather at the family homestead with cake and ice cream.
The walls of her home are adorned with letters in honor of her 100th birthday in 2001 from former President Carter, Gov. Sonny Perdue and President Bush, and two resolutions in her honor from the state House of Representatives.
Nowadays, Bartles enjoys joking around and being the center of attention.
"She is (the center of attention) and she knows it, too," Wilson said.
Out of nine children, Wilson said, all of her siblings - except for one who moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. - lived in Columbia County, close to their mother and the family home in Phinizy.
"She's kept us all together," Wilson said.
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