Nancy Terrell Furr hid in a cabin during the Civil War while Union soldiers plundered the countryside, picked all the pears from a tree nearby and killed the only cow she owned.
Her husband, Gus, was away, fighting for the Confederacy, dying in 1863 in Richmond.
Nancy, a strong and spirited woman, gave birth to their only child, a daughter, after her husband left for the war. When the infant became ill, she wrapped her in a quilt and rode horseback 40 miles to the nearest doctor, but the baby didn’t survive.
Gus had acquired the land from his father in 1859 on what are now Tribble Gap and Mud Creek roads in Hall County. Part of it remains in the family and is why it is being designated as a Centennial Farm by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Historical Preservation Division. Working farms that have been maintained for 100 years or more are recognized annually.
Bud and Yvonne Wiley continue to farm the land as did her ancestors.
Nancy Terrell Furr continued to grow crops with minimal help after the war. She married H.W. Rucker in 1870, they built a house on what is now Tribble Gap Road and raised a daughter, Victoria, who married Tom Tribble. The Tribbles farmed the land with five sharecroppers. When her husband died, Victoria sold some of the land to pay medical and funeral bills.
What land was left was divided among their four children, and one of them, Buck, divided the farm among his four children, including Yvonne, who continues to live on the land with her husband, Bud Wiley. The Wileys acquired more of the original Tribble land on Mud Creek Road from her parents and have added to it over the years to total about 50 acres today. Bud and his father-in-law cut the timber from the land to build the house the Wileys live in today.
The Wileys have engaged in various farming enterprises. They always have a large garden, products of which Yvonne cans or freezes for use throughout the year. A 1949 Ford tractor replaced Ole Mamie the mule in the early 1960s. They continue to raise cattle and up until three years ago had three chicken houses, in which as many as 61,000 broilers were raised at one time.
True farmers, the Wileys early on got fresh milk from a cow, Yvonne made butter in a pottery churn, and her sauerkraut has a considerable following.
Bottomland across Mud Creek Road from the Wileys’ home features Hagen’s Creek, where many a memory has been made by family members. Bud almost single-handedly with no power tools built a cabin to show his children and grandchildren how their ancestors, including himself, lived without electricity or indoor plumbing. He has added few modern conveniences.
Besides farming, Bud has worked various jobs, including driving a school bus, at a factory and building houses. Yvonne ran a beauty shop for several years.
The Wileys treasure one of their most profitable periods from the late 1960s till the early 1980s. They raised thousands of mink and some silver fox, marketing them as far away as Seattle, London and New York. They built a feed mill to keep the mink fed, with help from son Gerry, then an East Hall High School Future Farmer, and some fellow students.
However, when some celebrities began campaigning against using animal fur in clothing, demand hit bottom, and the Wileys escaped before too much damage was done.
Daughter Vickie Meeks wrote in the Centennial Farm application that many Tribble descendants who still feel a tie to the land return for a large Thanksgiving gathering every year. Her parents, Bud, 82, and Yvonne, 79, feel that bond strongly and are happy to live in the relative quiet just off Ga. 365 near the Habersham County line, despite some noise the four-lane brought in recent years.
“Bud loves the land so much, I couldn’t have drug him off it,” Yvonne says. They have another daughter, Gale Miller, who lives on a farm, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
The Wileys will receive their Centennial Farm plaque during a luncheon at the Georgia National Fair in Perry in October.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.