ADAMS, Tenn. (WKRN) – This weekend, the Robertson County community is inviting fans of ghost stories to come experience the legendary hauntings of the Bell Witch during the annual Bell Witch Fall Festival

The original play “Sprit: The Authentic Bell Witch Experience” tells the tale of the Bell family’s encounters with the mysterious spirit known as Kate over a two-year period in the early 1800s. 

“Spirit,” written and directed by David Alford, is based on the memoirs of the Bell family, detailing the malevolent spirit’s abuse toward patriarch John Bell, Sr., and his youngest daughter, Elizabeth “Betsy” Bell. 

The production will even feature descendants of the Bells taking on the roles of their ancestors, according to Bob Bell, who still lives in Robertson County to this day. 

“It’s a very well-written play,” he told News 2. “It’s a good portrayal of what happened. David, his thing was he wanted to find evidence that it actually happened, but there’s nothing in writing.” 

Multiple accounts have surfaced through word of mouth about the hauntings, including experiences from President Andrew Jackson, but the events were never proven, Bell said, and nothing physically connected to the story has survived through the ages. 

“It can’t be proven,” he said. “Everything that was connected to the story has disappeared, which is really odd. The manuscript disappeared. Nobody knows where it went.” 

For decades, not even the Bell family would speak of the hauntings. 

“Nobody wanted to talk about it,” Bell said. “It was not talked about all the way up until my father. We had these strange things happen to us, but we didn’t talk about it.” 

Bell said his ancestors felt the experiences were something they felt ashamed of and wanted to keep secret so as not to be judged by their neighbors and friends. 

“They didn’t want to be made fun of. Being connected with a ghost would make you lesser,” he said. “They didn’t want to be looked at as really strange people, so it was taboo to talk about. Nobody wanted to be connected to it.” 

Bell himself was unaware of his family’s history with the hauntings until he was a child. 

“I didn’t actually know anything about the Bell Witch until we had one event happen when I was very young, here in Springfield at my grandmother’s house.” 

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When he was 7 years old, Bell said, his grandmother fell victim to what the Bells believe must have been “old Kate.” 

His grandmother, who lived three houses down, was taking her daily nap when she was awakened by a loud crash. Upon investigation, she found the floor-to-ceiling China hutch in the butler’s pantry downstairs opened and every piece of her China strewn about the kitchen floor, though not a single piece was broken. 

“I just remember how scared Grandmother was,” he said of the incident. “I just remember seeing it spread all over the floor. I didn’t realize at the time that none of them were broken.” 

That China is still in his home today, he said, and there was no explanation for why the dishes were out of their place in the hutch and unbroken. 

“I remember Dad saying, ‘I guess it was old Kate,’ and Grandmother saying, ‘I guess it was,’” Bell said. “That was the first time I realized that we were actual Bells and connected with the story.” 

The house is the one he now lives in, though he has not experienced any more strange or unexplainable events for many years. His grandmother’s China and other unexplainable incidents, as well as the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project, sparked renewed interest in the local Tennessee legend. 

“We’ve had several things happen over the years that are not explainable,” Bell said. “That’s where my dad started to talk about it. And then The Blair Witch came out, and when it came out, it exploded the story of the Bell Witch. That’s where everybody every year wants to know everything about it.” 

Nowadays, Bell’s children and grandchildren take part in the festival and the production of “Spirit” in order to reconnect with their ancestors and keep the spirit of the legend alive. 

Bell’s father was in the original production of the play as the Bell patriarch. Once he could no longer take part, Bell began stepping in. His three daughters have all played Betsy as they grew up. His youngest daughter will take on that lead role this year, and his grandson will play his own sixth-great-grandfather, Joel Egbert Bell. 

“That’s our connection to it – Joel Egbert Bell,” Bell said. “It’s fun to do. You get really close.” 

Spending that time together is particularly special for Bell, as it gives the family an opportunity to grow closer and hear about each other when they might otherwise not be able to gather together. 

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“Our family gets closer because we spend so much time together,” he said. “Everybody’s so busy, you don’t get a chance to do that otherwise. We actually get some intimate time together. It’s fun to watch each one of them act and see their personalities. It’s also fun to keep the story going, because it’s a fun story for us. We don’t really know what happened; we just know it was really odd. The neat part is no one knows what the spirit is. That’s what keeps it going.” 

To learn more about the Bell Witch Fall Festival in Adams, click on this link.