Don’t Forget to view Bell Witch Farm | Adams, TN: American culture has made watching horror films, paranormal shows, and live ghost hunts popular past times, demonstrating the country’s ongoing preoccupation with the supernatural. People want something more, something different, something that excites them, something they can focus on and give thoughtful consideration to, despite the thrills and frights that these films and events produce.
Enter well investigated historical hauntings, where reputable, objective researchers open the door to knowledge so that people like you can come to their own judgements.
The John Bell family of Red River, Tennessee, now known as Adams, and the spooky experiences they had between 1817 and 1821 are at the heart of the Bell Witch mythology. The Tennessee haunting of the early 1800s involved actual persons and locations, unlike many ghost stories and ghost films.
Nobody has figured it out or even come close. Because of these characteristics, renowned parapsychologist and former lawyer Dr. Nandor Fodor dubbed the legend “America’s Greatest Ghost Story.”
In 200 years, the Bell Witch legend is still causing controversy. There are a tonne of Bell Witch books, films, and documentaries, and there are constantly a tonne more “in the works.” Regardless of whether a spiritual or human origin was involved in the case.
The Bell Witch mythology is briefly described in the story that is offered below. Please purchase a signed, personalised copy of Pat Fitzhugh‘s book The Bell Witch: The Full Account if you want the complete account of the Bell Witch legend (North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi; from the early 1800s to the present day), along with annotations, charts, footnotes, historical endnotes and discussions, and other resources.
Don’t Forget to view Bell Witch Farm | Adams, TN
The book is also available on Amazon and other stores. Please ask the site’s owner, Bell Witch researcher Pat Fitzhugh, your questions concerning the legend if they are not addressed on The Bell Witch Site. Fitzhugh has been studying the mythology for more than 40 years.
The tale is told below in its “classic version,” which is limited to Tennessee and the years 1817–1821. It is merely a story, although a contentious one. See the Real Character Biographies area of this website for thoroughly researched historical information about the characters in the legend.
Please refer to the Bell Witch Essays section for a thorough, well-researched examination of the important historical details of the legend. Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page to get more information about the mythology in general. Finally, I want to express my gratitude for visiting The Bell Witch Site.
The Bell Family Prior to the Haunting
John Bell brought his family to the Red River bottomland in Robertson County, Tennessee, in the early 1800s. They settled in the Red River hamlet, which later developed into the modern-day town of Adams, Tennessee. Bell bought his family a big house and some acreage.
He accumulated more land during the ensuing years, bringing his total holdings to 328 acres, and he prepared a number of fields for planting. Additionally, he was appointed an Elder in the Red River Baptist Church. After relocating to Tennessee, John and his wife, Lucy Bell, welcomed three further children. At the Red River Settlement, the Bells enjoyed a very contented and prosperous childhood.
Strange Occurrences Commence
A strange-looking animal was sitting in the centre of a row of corn as John Bell was checking his corn field one day in 1817. Bell fired several times after being startled by the appearance of the creature, which had the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit. The creature vanished.
This was the entity’s first recorded occurrence. Till dinnertime, Bell didn’t give the situation any further attention. The family’s log home’s exterior walls started making “beating” sounds that evening.
Each night, the strange noises became more frequent and intense. Bell and his boys frequently dashed outside in an effort to apprehend the offender but always came back empty-handed. The Bell kids started to wake up terrified in the weeks that followed, complaining that rats were biting at their bedposts.
Soon after that, the kids started reporting that something that appeared to be invisible was removing their bedclothes and throwing their pillows to the ground.
The Bell Witch Develops a Voice and Becomes Violent
Over time, the Bells started to hear weak, muttering noises that sounded like an elderly woman singing hymns but were too weak to understand. As the meetings intensified, Betsy Bell, the Bells’ youngest child, started having violent run-ins with the mysterious being.
It would repeatedly smack her and pull her hair, frequently leaving hand prints and welts on her body and face. The disruptions, which John Bell had pledged to keep a secret from his family, eventually got out of hand to the point where he confided in James Johnston, his best friend and neighbour, about his “family trouble.”
Johnston and his wife stayed the night at the Bell house despite their initial scepticism. While everything started out calmly, as they turned in for the night, they started to experience the same horrific disturbances that the Bells had been.
James jumped out of bed after their bed covers were pulled off and he was smacked, yelling, “In the name of the Lord, who are you and what do you want!” The remainder of the night was quiet because the thing did not respond. The Bells were informed by Mr. Johnston the following morning that the offender was probably a “evil spirit, the kind that the Bible talks about.”
The entity’s voice strengthened over time and became loud and unmistakable. It sang hymns, quoted scripture, carried on intelligent conversation, and once even quoted, word-for-word, two sermons that were preached at the same time on the same day, thirteen miles apart.
Word of the supernatural phenomena soon spread outside the settlement, even to Nashville, where then-Major General Andrew Jackson became interested in the so-called Bell Witch.
The Bell Witch Ridicules Andrew Jackson’s Sidekick
At the Battle of New Orleans, John Bell, Jr., along with his brothers Drewry and Jesse Bell, fought for General Jackson. A few years later, in 1819, Jackson learned about the commotion at the Bell house and made the decision to go there and look into it.
The enormous waggon suddenly came to a stop when Jackson’s retinue, which included numerous men, well-groomed horses, and the Bell property, arrived. It was unable to be pulled by the horses because it was caught in a muddy creek bed. The men believed that, at least.
After several minutes of cursing and trying to coax the horses into pulling the wagon, Jackson proclaimed, “By the eternal, boys! That must be the Bell Witch!” Then, suddenly, a disembodied female voice told Jackson that they could proceed and that she would see them again later that evening.
They were then able to proceed across the property, up the lane, and to the Bell home. That evening, Jackson told old war stories while his entourage set up their tents in John and Lucy Bell’s yard.
One of the guys identified himself as a “witch tamer.” He brought out a shiny revolver and declared that its silver bullet would kill any bad spirit that it came into contact with after several uneventful hours. He continued by saying that since whatever had been haunting the Bells was “scared” by his silver bullet, nothing had happened to them.
The man immediately yelled and started swinging his body in different directions, saying that he was being violently battered and stuck with pins. The man was kicked hard and quickly in the rear by an invisible foot, which sent him out the front door.
Jackson’s troops requested to leave the Bell property as they were frightened. Jackson insisted on remaining because he was curious to find out who the second “fraud” was. The men kept pleading with Jackson to leave until they eventually went outdoors to sleep in their tents.
What transpired next is unknown, but Jackson and his entourage were seen leaving Springfield for Nashville early the following morning. Some believe that afterward, Jackson said, “I would rather fight the British at New Orleans than fight the Bell Witch.”
The Bell Witch Sets Her Sights on John Bell
After Betsy and Joshua’s engagement ended, there were fewer disturbances, but John Bell was still the target of the entity’s constant threats to kill him. Bell had been having periods of facial twitching and trouble swallowing for about a year, and the condition got worse with time.
He was confined to the house by the autumn of 1820 due to his deteriorating health, where the evil force would repeatedly take off his shoes whenever he attempted to walk and slap him in the face when he recovered from his frequent seizures. All across the property, people could hear her harsh voice yelling and berating “Old Jack Bell,” as she had given him the moniker.
John Bell passed away on December 20, 1820, in the early hours of the morning, a day after he had fallen into a coma. His relatives discovered a vial of odd black liquid in the cabinet right after he passed away. Two drops were applied by John Jr. to the cat’s tongue.
The cat leaped into the air, turned over in midair, and when it struck the ground, it was already dead. Then the being cried out, “I gave Ol’ Jack a big dose of that last night, which fixed him!” John Jr. threw the enigmatic vial into the fire. It shot up the chimney in the form of a brilliant blue flame.
The funeral for John Bell in Robertson County, Tennessee, was one of the biggest ever. People travelled great distances to attend, and three preachers—two Methodist and one Baptist—offered eulogies.
The Bell Witch spirit chuckled and sang a song about a bottle of brandy as the group of mourners started to leave the cemetery. She continued to sing fervently until the last mourner had left the cemetery. After John Bell died, the creature almost disappeared, as though it had served its mission.
Betsy Bell’s Engagement is Disrupted
Over time, Betsy Bell developed a fascination with a young man who lived nearby named Joshua Gardner. They made the decision to get married with their parents’ approval. Their engagement was a source of joy for everyone. Almost everyone, I suppose. The malevolent, enigmatic being became enraged and repeatedly told Betsy not to wed Joshua.
Professor Richard Powell, Betsy and Joshua’s previous instructor, had shown a noticeable interest in Betsy for some time and had stated a desire to marry her when she grew older. According to some sources, Powell, who was eleven years older than Betsy, studied the occult, ventriloquism, was an expert in mathematics, and was knowledgeable about horticulture and geology.
During the time he lived and taught in Red River (and was viewed as a happy-go-lucky bachelor) and declared his unwavering affection for Betsy Bell, he was secretly married to Esther Scott, a woman in nearby Nashville. Early stories claim that Powell graciously conveyed his displeasure at Betsy’s engagement to Joshua and wished the couple a long and happy marriage.
Betsy and Joshua were unable to play in the fields, the river, or the cave without the creature bothering them. On Easter Monday of 1821, Betsy Bell met Joshua along the river and called off the engagement because the constant pressure was too much for her to take.
The Entity Bade Farewell but Returned in 1828
The spirit visited John Bell’s widow, Lucy Bell, in April 1821, not long after Betsy Bell had called off their wedding, and informed her that it was departing but would return in seven years.
As predicted, the entity appeared once more in 1828. John Bell, Jr. was the main focus of the return visit, during which the entity spoke with him about the necessity for a significant spiritual awakening as well as the genesis of life, civilizations, and Christianity. Its prophecies of the Civil War and other big events, some of which she missed, were particularly significant.
After three weeks, the creature departed with a promise to return to John Bell’s closest relative in 107 years.