Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Simply History: The Bell Witch
Welcome to October! Yes, it's time for Halloween with spooks and creeps. I wanted to start us off with a Spook from Tennessee. The entity is known as the Bell Witch. The Bell Witch is the most famous haunting in America. The story begins in Red River, which is now known as Adams, Tennessee in 1817, when John Bell Sr. began to be terrorized by the spirit of a witch. The Bell family had moved to Tennessee from North Carolina in the early 1800's. Mr. Bell was a farmer and had expanded his property to around 328 acres. It was during this expansion that he happened to come across a woman by the name of Kate Batts. According to legend, Kate had a disagreement with Mr. Bell over a slave and also believed that he had claimed/stolen some of her property that was adjacent to his. From then on, she was known to have cursed the Bell family regularly in public, so when the haunting began in 1817, many believed that Kate had conjured up a spirit to get even with the Bell family. The haunting began when John Bell came across an odd creature in his pasture. He was said to have shot the creature but it soon vanished. Later that evening, the home was disturbed with knocking on the doors and windows, the sound of wings on the ceiling and rats gnawing at the bed posts. The family did not find any evidence when they arose the next morning and decided to keep quiet about the events. Unfortunately, the haunting was only beginning. The "Witch Spirit" continued the assault on the family. Blankets would be ripped from the beds of their children, milk and sugar spilled across the kitchen floor and even food pulled from the mouths of the children. Betsy Bell was one of the children that the spirit seemed to focus on. She was subjected to being struck, pinched and having her hair pulled. Lucy and John Junior were mostly spared from the torture. However, John Jr. was said to have had many long and intense conversations with the witch spirit and held great animosity towards it. The children were not the only ones to deal with the spirit. The witch spirit disliked the family's slaves and would torture them with beatings, and not allow them to enter the home. One slave would carry an axe and "witch ball" to protect himself. No visitor to the property was safe. The future President of the United States, General Andrew Jackson, owned property in the town and insisted on visiting the Bell family due to all the stories. When Jackson came upon the property, the wheels of his wagon became stuck by an unforeseen force. The General was quoted as saying "By the eternal boys, this is the witch." The spirit replied, "All right, General, let the wagon move on. I will see you again tonight." The wagon was then released from the unforeseen hold and they continued on to the camp site. When the evening came, a witch hunter was brought in to rid them of the evil. Soon, the sound of light footsteps was heard and a voice stated, "Alright, General, I am on hand and ready for business." The witch hunter had brought a gun with a silver bullet to shoot the witch spirit, but the gun would not fire. The hunter then ran from the tent in terror, proclaiming that he was being stuck with needles and had been grabbed by the nose. The spirit then stated, "How the devil did run and beg; I'll bet he won't come through here again with his old horse pistol to shoot me. I guess that's fun enough for tonight, General, and you can go to be now. I will come tomorrow night and show you another rascal in this crowd." Andrew Jackson was excited about the prospect for another visit, but his party did not want to stay any longer and he returned to Nashville. The haunting continued for several years and many believed that it caused the death of John Bell Sr. on December, 20, 1920. It was said that the witch spirit even crashed his funeral by singing vile drinking songs. You would think that after the death of Mr. Bell, the witch spirit would subside, but she did not. There are many stories left to tell about the Bell Witch, but it would be a very long blog post to tell you of them all. You can find out more online, or you can bravely visit Adams, TN and ask her yourself! I hope everyone has a great rest of the week, and be sure to join us again on Friday, for our Recipe of the Week! Till the next Haunting!