2017-10-25 / Front Page

Our ‘haunted’ Grand Old Lady

Several years ago Jim Miles asked for an Early County ghost story for a book he was working on... “The Georgia Ghost Book.”

Miles planned for the book to include a story from each of the state’s 159 counties.

“The manuscript got so long that my publisher, History Press, split it into three different books, Haunted South Georgia, Haunted Central Georgia, and Haunted North

Georgia,” Miles stated recently.

“History Press liked the photo my wife took of the Early County Courthouse so much that it became the cover photo for Haunted South Georgia.”

The following is the chapter about a haunting in Early County...

Early County: Uncle Jeff, the Newspaper Spirit

Locating a ghost story from each of 161 localities across the state of Georgia took considerable research and a lengthy period of time. I told (my wife) Earline I might have to originate a new ghost tradition in one of several problem counties (she swore she would expose me if I did), and Early County was one candidate.

Jim Miles Jim Miles Thankfully, Billy Fleming, publisher of the Early

County News (serving the people since 1859) came to my aid on August 4, 2010. In his column “Mumbles,” he described the supernatural antics of his Uncle Jeff and challenged Early County to provide other local ghostly tales. There were none, but at least we had Uncle Jeff.

Billy grew up in Uncle Jeff’s old home, the Fleming

House on South Church Street in Blakely. Because Jeff died years before Billy’s birth, Billy learned of the ghost from his parents.

Uncle Jeff exhibited the typical ghostly behavior, “occasional knocks, noises and lights,” Billy wrote. His mother described the ghost’s activity, “and hollered at him from time to time.”

Jeff’s most demonstrative exhibition originated “one night when Daddy was lying in bed with the cover tucked under his arms, reading a paper and watching TV. The covers were slowly pulled from underneath his arms and off the end of the bed.”

When the Early County Courthouse was renovated, Early County News editor Katie Pando took photographs in the clock tower.

“One of the photos had a mysterious humanlike image in the background,” Fleming wrote. “’Probably Uncle Jeff,’ I joked.”

It wasn’t until months later that Billy learned that Uncle Jeff had worked in the building as county probate judge, “explaining what he was doing in the clock tower,” he mused.

While Early County’s “Grand Old Lady” is featured on the cover of Haunted South Georgia, the Tate Mansion in Milledgeville is featured on the cover of Haunted Central Georgia, and Carrollton’s Maple Street Mansion is featured on the cover of Haunted North Georgia.

Jim Miles is author of seven books of the Civil War Explorer Series ( Fields of Glory, To the Sea, Piercing the Heartland, Paths to Victory, A River Unvexed, Forged in Fire and The Storm Tide), Civil War Sites in Georgia and two books titled Weird Georgia. Five books were featured by the History Book Club, and he has been historical adviser to several History Channel shows.

He has also written seven books about Georgia ghosts: Civil War Ghosts of North Georgia, Civil War Ghosts of Atlanta, Civil War Ghosts of Central Georgia and Savannah and Mysteries of Georgia’s Military Bases: Ghosts, UFOs, and Bigfoot.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history and a Master of Education degree from Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus. He taught high school American history for thirty-one years. Over a span of 40 years, Jim has logged tens of thousands of miles exploring every nook and cranny in Georgia, as well as at Civil War sites throughout the country. He lives in Warner Robins, Georgia, with his wife, Earline.

Haunted South Georgia, along with most of Miles’ other books are available at Amazon.com.

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