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The Bell Witch

The Bell Witch is a ghost story from the state of Tennessee. The legend of the Bell Witch revolved around a series of strange events experienced by the John Bell family of Adams, Tennessee between 1817 and 1821.

It is said that these events were witnessed and documented by hundreds of people. Among those who it was said witnessed these strange goings on was the future President of the United States Andrew Jackson, and because of that it is one of the most famous and documented paranormal events in history.

Some believed that the Bell Witch was a woman by the name of Kate Batts, a rather strange neighbor of Bell's, who had sued him for cheating her in a land deal. There is documentation of the land sale conflict involving John Bell, but there is never any mention of any connection to Kate Batts.

Many investigators over the years have come to believe that the "witch" was actually a poltergeist, and that the Bell home was built on a Native American burial ground. According to the legend, the hauntings began in 1817, when John Bell encountered a very strange animal in a cornfield on his property. The animal was described as having the body of a dog and a head of a rabbit, and it vanished when John Bell shot at it.

The incident was very quickly followed by a series of strange manifestations. Beating, thumping, and gnawing, chewing like noises started around outside the house, but eventually they made their way inside the Bell home. Then the Bell children reported to their parents that their bedclothes were being regularly pulled off and tossed onto the floor by an invisible force. The family then reported a choking voice that also made low, guttural noises. In spite of all of this, John Bell did not believe that any supernatural entity was causing these mysterious happenings, and said so. Then Betsy Bell, the family's younger daughter and the only child still living at home, was violently assaulted. Her hair was pulled and an invisible force slapped her face. But, John Bell was a proud and stubborn man and admonished his family to never tell anyone what was happening lest they be thought crazy.

These events continued for well over a year before John Bell finally broke and reported them to his neighbors, James Johnston and his wife. They both reported that they had witnessed many of the strange and frightening events. It was at this point the bizarre events that were being experienced by the Bell family became very well known in the Red River community. Especially the reports of a voice talking loudly and clearly, singing, and even quoting from the Bible and accurately describing events happening in places that were miles away.

At some point the involvement of the future U.S. President Andrew Jackson heard of the bizarre haunting and decided to observe them in person. This was in 1819.

As Jackson and his entourage neared the Bell farm, they encountered an invisible presence that stopped his wagon in its tracks, until he acknowledged that the witch was responsible. The wagon was then able to proceed.

One of the men in Jackson�s group claimed to be a "witch tamer" who intended to kill the spirit. The man suddenly began screaming and twisting his body immediately after making this statement. Jackson and his entourage left the Bell farm by around noon the next day. He is quoted as saying "I'd rather fight the entire British Army than to deal with the Bell Witch."

Betsy Bell became engaged to a neighbor named Joshua Gardner. This apparent displeased the entity, and so it followed and taunted, teased, and assaulted them whenever they were alone together. Betsy broke off the relationship on Easter Monday in 1821.

This disembodied voice also continued to very clearly state its dislike of John Bell, and of its intentions to kill him. Bell was by then suffering frequent facial seizures, often rendering him speechless. The Bell family blamed John's affliction on the witch.

John Bell died on December 20, 1820. A strange small vial contained an unidentified liquid that he had apparently ingested by accident was found near the body. And when the remaining liquid was given to the family cat, the animal died immediately. The family said they heard a voice say "I gave Ol' John a big ol' dose o' that last night, and that fixed him." Later, at John Bell's burial, funeral guests reported hearing a voice laughing and singing.

John Bell's death signaled the end of the strange events, but Lucy Bell said a voice told her that it would return in 1828. During visit that year, John Bell Jr. said that a voice talked with him, predicting such events as the American Civil War, the Great Depression and both of the World Wars.

According to the legend, after the entity appeared in 1828, it said it would return after 107 years sometime in 1935.

Many people believe that the spirit returned in 1935, and took up residence on the old Bell property, and remains there till this day. It is reported that the faint sounds of people talking and children playing can sometimes be heard in the area and it is reported that it is very hard to take a good picture there.

Contributed by Simone Mefford and Copyright © 2007 True Ghost Tales all rights reserved. No part of this story may be used without permission.


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