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Smith Treadwell

Robert Ripley is known for his love of the strange and unusual; little did he know that his love for the bizarre would bring him to the tiny town of Spring Place, Georgia. Parts of the following information were featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not in the 1930's.

Smith Treadwell purchased land in Murray County in 1838. He was married to Mary (Polly) Mobley and they had seven children. Mr. Treadwell was a wealthy landowner, owning property in several counties including Floyd, Cass, Terrell, Murray and Whitfield. He represented the 43rd District in the state senate in 1857-1858. During the War Between the States, although too old to be a soldier, he did serve the Confederacy as a prison guard at the infamous Andersonville Prison.

After the war, he moved his family to Spring Place where he owned several grist mills. However, it was his death that would bring him just as much recognition as his life. Shortly after his death, a marble obilous shaped monument was erected in the family cemetery. People who visited the cemetery to pay their respects began to notice the streaks in the marble began to take on an image of their own. A likeness of a man's face emerged from these streaks and was believed to resemble Smith Treadwell himself. Family members and friends alike debated if the reflection was truly that of Smith. Each person drew his/her own conclusion as to what would cause the image to appear. Some say it was because he was an evil man when he took to drinking spirits and had murdered his wife while drunk. Others praised him as being a good family man. Regardless of what you chose to believe it could not be denied that an image existed on the marker.

The marker was featured in the Dalton Daily Citizen in 1875, however the most famed coverage came in the 1930's when the tombstone was featured in "Ripley's Believe it or Not". The cartoon drawing labeled the oddity as "The Tombstone Portrait - Spring Place, Georgia." Carl L. Davis, whose parents owned a house adjacent to the cemetery, told stories that as a young boy he was given money by tourists wishing to see the eerie tombstone. Visitors would show up at all hours of the day and night to sneak a peek at the "portrait".

In 1951, the marker was stolen and remained missing for some time. It was eventually found in Mill Creek by some local fishermen. By this time, the family had grown tired of the voyeurs who came to take a peek at Smith and the decision was made not to erect another marker.

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