Author: Deanna Haywood
In Adams, Tennessee, in 1817, John Bell and his family had been tormented by a poltergeist, known as the Bell Witch. She had a mean reputation for physically abusing some of the family members, close friends, and neighbors, who dared to step foot in the Bell’s resident. Many people who study the Bell Witch’s legend have speculated that the poltergeist had harassed the Bell family out of jealousy or spite.
In 1804, John Bell and his Family moved from Halifax County, North Carolina to Robertson County, Tennessee and built a house and started a farm on 328 acres. John Bell was married to Lucy Bell and they had nine children named Jesse, John Junior, Drewry, Benjamin, Esther, Zadok, Elizabeth (Betsy), Richard Williams, and Joel Egbert. John and his family made a living through farming. Soon after settling into their new home, unusual disturbances began to surface around the family.
One day when John was tending to the crops in the cornfield, he encountered a bizarre creature sitting in the middle of the corn row, which had the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit. John shot several times until it vanished. Soon after, Betsey and Drewry began to see strange creatures near the property. At night, the children were awaken by noises sounding like a rat gnawing on the bedpost and “beating” sounds on the outside walls of their log house. Things got stranger as the ghost start to become physical with the family.
One could only imagine the sleepless night and suffering the Bell family had been through daily with the harassment of the Bell Witch. At night bedcovers were yanked off, pillows were thrown, they were slapped, and strange voices tormented them. Betsey, the Bell’s youngest daughter, was physically abused the most by the witch to the point where welts and hand prints were left on her body from being slapped relentlessly.
|Those who slept in the Bell’s house did not sleep alone.|
Fitzhugh, Pat. “The Bell Witch Haunting.” BellWitch.org. The Bell Witch Web Site, 27 Aug. 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
Hudson, Arthur Palmer, and McCarter, Kyle Pete. “ The Bell Witch of Tennessee and Mississpi: A Folk Legend.” Journal of American Folk-Lore 47.183 (1934):45-63. Print.
Marshall, Lea. “Tales From the Dark Side.” Dance Magazine. Macfadden Performing Arts Media, LLC, Oct 2007. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
Roberts, Nancy. "Return of the Bell Witch." Ghosts of the Southern Mountains and Appalachia. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, 1988. 12-26. Print.
"Tennessee Myths and Legends: Bell Witch." Tennessee.gov. Tennessee State Library and Archives, n.d. Web.
Links for Further Research:
The Bell Witch
A video discusses the haunting of the Bell Witch.
A site that goes in depth about the bell witch
An American Haunting
The official home of the historic Bell Witch Cave, provides great pictures.
The Ultimate Fan Site for the Bell Witch
This site provides fans’ opinion on of the Bell Witch.
The Bell Witch
A site dedicated to the Bell Witch.