Our First “Local Artist Spotlight” from our Facebook page, Middle Georgia Haunted History
If you could be remembered for something, what would it be?
In the beginning of my research, my friend Aaron and myself had the honor to interview the family of the late, great Jim Miles. Accomplished local author, husband, father, friend, and (among many other things) a legend in our hearts (we hope soon to be in yours too).
As Jim would say, forgive me for adding myself in this story, but there are few people who understand the research and sheer work that goes into the tales that history researchers cover. Until you learn that there was a man who did it all before Middle Georgia’s History Uncovered, without the tools we have today.
I couldn’t think of a better way to share Mr. Miles other than to do it like I do all of my other stories. There is so much to share about his adventurous life, and I’ll do our best to cover it all. With that said, it’s my privilege to say, “but first, the history.”
In Mobile Alabama, Mr. Miles was born in July 1953. he moved to Middle Georgia with his family as a teenager. It appears that he had an eye for history and the uncanny at an early age. He wrote, in his first “Weird Georgia” book, that he was eternally thankful to his parents for “not only refraining from killing me in my youth, but for indulging my interest, no matter how odd.”
He graduated from Northside High School, Warner Robins in 1971 and then went on to earn not only a Bacherlor’s degree in history but also a Master’s in Education. That led him to his successful 30+ years of teaching at Peach County High School. After you’ve learned about him, you should try to imagine how amazing it would have been to have him teach you a history lesson!
As mentioned before, at a young age, he would hear others talk about folklore and even stories about strange happenings before and after someone would pass away. This, combined with his fascination for archeology and historical events, created a passion within him to begin writing.
Speaking of passion: before mentioning anything else, I can’t leave out the love of his life, his wife, Earline Miles. He once wrote that he was thankful to his “long-suffering Southern Baptist wife, who resisted the urge to throw my work into the fire.” Yes, he had an amazing sense of humor (we hope).
He authored seven books about the Civil War (he considered this his “legitimate pursuits,” again, his humor was undeniable). Also, he wrote two “Weird Georgia” books that include an entire statewide “Easter egg hunt” of all things strange or paranormal. This was only a small portion of what he authored.
Touring his home, I couldn’t help but admire the gigantic wall dedicated to his family. He indeed traveled all 159 counties of Georgia and two others that “died” as counties and no longer exist. He did this, however, while including his family. His earlier writings spoke about Paul, his son, joining him on these adventures. He jokes about Melanie, his daughter being too “young yet” to join him. From his words and the life he led, it’s crystal clear that he put his family and God first. That’s an incredible task to do considering the amount of work he did, but it was easily done because of his love for them.
He went on to author several “Haunted America Books” that included “Haunted Central Georgia,” “Haunted South Georgia,” and several others literally covering the entire peach state. It’s a marvelous, well thought out blue print to all of “haunted” Georgia.
That’s right, he wrote a ghost story and then some for every single county in this beautiful state. Not only that, he did it with printed maps and his family in tow. He also served in his community as well. Something we should all do together!
Once I stepped foot in his office, Icould only picture a man going one hundred miles an hour through all of the books he collected over the years and him scouring the internet on the single computer in the room. His love and dedication to history, Georgia, and journalism were alive and well during our visit to his office. It was the single most impressive collection I’ve ever seen.
Allow me to tell you a secret about myself: Middle Georgia’s History Uncovered almost never happened. That is until we picked up “Haunted Central Georgia” from our local library. That single book by this extraordinary man gave me enough motivation and inspiration to continue on. It gave us more purpose to continue what we were already doing for Middle Georgia.
After asking Mrs. Miles and his daughter, Melanie, if Jim were here today, what would he tell me knowing what my mission is? Their answer was to “carry on and stay weird.” That was an honor! Although you’re not a ghost, Mr. Jim Miles, we all now know you lived. We know how much you mattered and still do. We also know that you’ll always be around through your wonderful family, friends, and endless amount of work.
I’ve never been more delighted to do what I do. Even though I know Middle Georgia’s History Uncovered will never come close to what Jim did for this community, I will certainly give it our best. Also, if you’re wondering, the “George Slappey” story was written as a nod to him because he covered it first in “Haunted Central Georgia.”
Now to the hard part. As you’ve already gathered, Jim left this world in 2019. The only regret I have in this entire spotlight is that I never met him. We are so lucky to have his accomplishments and should be thankful for him for his work. I’m also incredibly grateful to his family for meeting with us. In a video he did with the local news, 13 WMAZ, they asked him what he thinks the message from a “ghost” would be. He answered, “I once lived, I mattered, and I want people to know I’m still around.“ Well, Mr. Miles, you still live on, you do matter and you will always be around because of your amazing research.
I encourage everyone to pick up at least two Jim Miles books and get lost in his stories and history. I guarantee that if you love my collection of cases, you’ll love his books even more!
Hey! I hope you enjoyed this Local Author Spotlight. A special thank you to Earline and Melanie Miles for their exceptional hospitality and for the amazing book gifts. Thank you both for being a part of Middle Georgia’s History Uncovered!
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Jim’s work with history is and has always been a huge influence on this website, my writings, research and love for Georgia. Thank you again to the Miles family.
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