An agricultural community grew along the Alabama road (now GA Highway 113) and became a settlement of prominent farmers. In 1856, the community united to establish a high school which proved so successful that by 1858 a movement was underway to construct a larger building. The Stilesboro Institute (now Academy) was completed in 1859, the final touch being the Latin inscription, “Deo ac Patriae” painted above the stage. “To God & Country” was the phrase that according to legend kept Union General Sherman from burning the building during his 1864 march through Georgia. This phrase was also the motto of his beloved United States Military Academy at West Point.
Incorporated March 21, 1866, this community was named for one of its prominent neighbors, William Henry Stiles. The new corporate limits extended one mile in every direction from the Stilesboro Academy. The Cartersville and Van Wert Railroad was completed September 12, 1870 from the main line of the Western & Atlantic in Cartersville, extending through Stilesboro to Taylorsville. In 1870, a road was surveyed from the Academy to the new depot.
Besides the Academy, one of the few remaining landmarks is Brandon’s Chapel, built in 1899. The church has a long history, built originally out of logs near the neighboring community of Euharlee and named Brandon’s Society for its founder, Thomas W. Brandon. The church moved to the Stilesboro community in 1840, but was destroyed by a tornado in 1898 and rebuilt on the present site.
The community still has its charm, even though it lost its post office in 1953 and charter in 1995. The train no longer stops there and commerce in the town proper has ceased. Stilesboro today lives under the shadows of Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen, the country’s largest coal powered electrical plant built between 1971 and 1975. The Stilesboro Academy, is owned and maintained by the Stilesboro Improvement Club, founded in 1910. In 1912, the ladies of the club began the annual tradition of a flower show, which continues today, in order to raise money to maintain and preserve the Academy.
Source: History of Bartow County, formerly Cass by Lucy Josephine Cunyus; Stilesboro Academy, The Daily Tribune News, October 19, 1972.