The legend of the Bell Witch

Haunted Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – For two centuries, tales of the Bell Witch have haunted Tennesseans. It all dates back to a farm in Adams, Tennessee where, legend has it, John Bell was haunted and killed by the witch in 1820.

Robert Bell, a fifth-generation grandson of John, says odd things continue to surround his family.

“My first encounter, my grandmother lived four doors down from us and she lived by herself and would take a nap every afternoon, and she was awakened by a crash, and it scared her so bad, she called up to the house, and I went down with my dad, I was seven years old.”

Bell says he remembers dishes were all over the floor.

“There’s a butler pantry in-between the dining room and the kitchen and it’s built into the wall with latching cabinets, and all the cabinets door were open, and every bit of her china had come out of that cabinet, crashed on the kitchen floor, and that’s what woke her up. And the odd thing about it was not one piece was broken.”

Historians say the Bell Witch is the spirit of Kate Batts, an old neighbor, who sought revenge on John for cheating her in a land purchase.

Robert now lives in the house John did, but he believes a Bible dated 1820 is what really held the Bell Witch spirit inside the home.

“That was the year John was killed in December 1820, so I’m like, it was in the house, so I immediately made a connection to the Bible to what was happening in the house, and my sister said she’d love to have that Bible and I said, ‘Yeah, you need to have that,’ and so she took and since I’ve lived there and nothing has happened.”

But when he asked to look at it a few years later, Robert says his sister had no recollection of ever seeing it, “It was really odd because my sisters not like that. So the Bible’s gone, but thankfully it’s not in my house!”

If you don’t believe him, you should know those who deny the Bell Witch exists often find she takes it as a challenge. Rick Gregory, Historian, Community Spirit Inc., says he found that out the hard way, “My wife got 150 tick bites, my daughter got MRSA, a big tree fell over the creek on the road going down to the river where I kayak, my refrigerator went out — and of course everybody in Adams said, ‘Rick! That’s what you get for saying you don’t believe in Bell Witch!’”

Gregory is part of the community team that hosts a play every Halloween. They say even during the show, paranormal things happen. “A dog we called Caesar, the dog in the story, he was a Rottweiler mix and he just showed up and got on stage, and was the sweetest dog unless you tried to move him, then he turned on you, so they just started working around him, he just became part of the play, and we just worked around him and after the play was over, he just disappeared, and nobody knows where he came from or where he went.”

Perhaps that’s one of the spirit’s spookiest traits, her said ability to shapeshift. “The spirit it could talk, you could touch it if it wanted you to touch it. It could touch you,” said Robert. “Then it wound up killing John Bell, it’s not like anything else that’s ever happened.”

For more bone-chilling tales from across Tennessee CLICK HERE if you dare!

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