Photos Cameron Flaisch
Life in rural Georgia is typically calm and unassuming.
For hundreds of years, people have sought the solitude and peace of the Northwest Georgia countryside, and with for good reason. The stars are in full view on clear nights and without the noise of a city, it’s ideal for those seeking a simple lifestyle. But much like the rest of the world, Georgia has a long history of darkness and sometimes that darkness leaves something behind.
When driving through, if you blink you may miss the sights of Euharlee, Ga. The city center consists of a mercantile, a tiny courthouse, museum, library and a covered bridge.
Much like the surrounding cities, Euharlee is scarred with the remnants of the Civil War. Union General William T. Sherman’s infamous march through Georgia led him and his 130,000 troops through Cartersville and straight into Euharlee. Trenches and artifacts can be found scattered throughout the area, but Sherman set up camp in the heart of Euharlee on a bit of land now known as Tilley Mill.
Joe and Betty Jane Tilley bought the property in 1994 and as tradition would have it, the name of the mill changed to match the new keepers.
The mill is in ruins now, but the Tilley’s transformed the area into an event space. With the influx of people to witness strange happenings and unexplained phenomena, it was only a matter of time before the passing around of a few unsettling stories.
Claims of supernatural encounters have come from the mill for years and it seems that whoever – or whatever – is around that property wants to make sure that the living know that they aren’t alone.
According to Betty Jane, the Rogers family built the original mill prior to the civil war around 1848. Across the path lies Mount Zion Cemetery, which as old – if not older – than the mill. After purchasing the property, the Tilley’s had the grounds surveyed and Mount Zion cemetery was discovered.
“There are three tombstones there and one of them is a tombstone of Leddy Rogers,” explains Betty Jane.
Later, a friend, who has asked to remain nameless, was sent out by the Genealogical Society of Bartow County to gather information on the cemetery for the county records. Betty Jane says, “he found the Leddy Rogers tombstone and he happened to be by himself. He told us that he usually brings his wife with him. It was a hot August day and he was leaning over to get the information off the tombstone and suddenly a white cloth went across his brow and it got dark. He whirled around but he didn’t see anything. So, he tried straightening up the tombstone and again the same thing happened. It was like a white cloth went across his brow.”
This experience was rattled him, to say the least, but the man did not feel the need to share his experience with the property owners. Betty Jane continues, “Joe had gone over to the cemetery by himself after all of this and the same thing happened to him. He was trying to straighten up the tombstone because the surveyor had come to us and told us that the tombstone had shifted from its original location. All he said was, ‘you need to straighten it up’ and he didn’t tell us anything else. Well, Joe had the same experience, this white cloth went across his brow and he jumped up and got out of there.”
It wasn’t until later when the surveyor was giving a presentation about the cemetery that they discovered both men had shared in this encounter with Leddy Rogers’s tomb.
Betty Jane herself has never experienced anything supernatural at the gravesite and claims that Leddy, “seems to only make her presence known to the men.”
But Leddy isn’t the only being to worry about in those woods.
Local boy scout troops often find their way to Tilley Mill to camp and assist the owners in maintaining the property, including the cemetery and an old bridge that crosses Euharlee Creek. Author Corinna Underwood published a book “Haunted History: Atlanta and North Georgia” after a visit to Tilley Mill and the cover of the book is General Sherman crossing the bridge on that piece of property. Betty Jane recalls Underwood as a ghost enthusiast who, “vowed and declared that our whole location was full of ghosts.”
According to those boy scouts, Underwood may have a true sense about the supernatural. Multiple groups have claimed to hear the rattling of chains under and around the bridge during the night. With the violent history surrounding the area, it’s not surprising that even without their voices, those left behind after the war might still be trying to tell the world their story.
Tilley Mill is not the only haunted place in Euharlee. Perhaps the most haunted area in Euharlee is located in the center of the town.
The Euharlee covered bridge is one of the most well-known spiritually active places in North Georgia. Legends and rumors have been circulating for decades about the ghosts that haunt downtown Euharlee. This town is so small that it doesn’t have a post office or a traffic light and the Christmas parade consists solely of tractors and ATVs. Still, there are stories so dark that driving through the area at night makes some so uncomfortable that they are willing to risk a speeding ticket just to get out of there faster.
The covered bridge was built in 1886 and, like the bridge at Tilley Mill, it was built to provide a crossing over Euharlee Creek, a limb of the Etowah River. Like most tragedies, this one started with a curse. Just a few yards in front of the bridge lies a well. According to legend, a witch was travelling through the area and when she was denied shelter and food from the locals, she cursed the well, the water that fed it and the people of Euharlee.
History has forgotten what exactly the curse was meant to accomplish. However, the violent events that followed would leave a trace.
The legends told are gruesome and are not for the faint of heart, so be warned. Stories tell of a young girl who was abducted, assaulted and then hung from the rafters of the bridge. She leaves behind the sound of a groaning rope as her body sways over the rush of the water below.
Another legend tells of a mother who lost her child and, in her grief, she crafted a noose and hung herself under the bridge. She left her form walking the grounds around the bridge, screaming for her baby.
Some leave behind screams and splashes and some leave laughter and whispers. No one knows the full extent of the damage that witch’s curse brought to Euharlee, but some have an idea. Folks claim that the reason for the paranormal activity in the area is because the witch cursed every soul who drank the water. She cursed them to remain without rest in the small, uneventful town of Euharlee.
There is some evidence to back up that claim. In the early 2000s a paranormal investigation took place on and around the bridge. They heard what the locals heard but they decided to try something to gain some physical evidence. They closed off the bridge and laid down sand end to end. The team, along with some local residents, held a vigil overnight and guarded the bridge from entry. When dawn broke, they approached the bridge to find boot prints, hoof prints and tracks like those from a wagon. An imprint of trapped souls looking for a way out of Euharlee.
Some scary stories are just that, stories. Told around a camp fire or just before bed, these tall tales of misery and spirits trapped in a hellish purgatory are only meant to put us in a temporary state of terror. But there are those times when we see and hear things we wish we could forget; we know things that we wish we could erase from our minds so that we may sleep easier or not look over our shoulders when the darkness falls over the foothills of Appalachia. Is Leddy calling for the attention of the living? Is the witch’s well the source of a wicked curse?
Better yet, are you willing to take a trip to Euharlee to find out for yourself?
Slow down a bit when driving through the sleepy town where restless souls seek to speak their truths. They’ll be expecting you.