Things you did know about the Bell Witch Haunting may not be accurate. In Adams, Tennessee, in 1817, the family of John Bell began to experience strange manifestations on his 320-acre farm in northern Robertson County.
The claim occurrences started with the family listening to unknown noises, his children being beaten while sleeping, until they began to listen later to an old woman’s voice, singing, quoting scripture, and occasionally talking to the family, physical aggression, and a possible murder.
The Bell Witch Haunting
North Carolina farmer John Bell settled in Tennessee with his family in 1804, where they had a peaceful and prosperous life for 13 years.
In that late summer of 1817, everything changed for the Red River Baptist Church’s deacon and his family. They began to witness some strange shape animals around their land that lay along the Red River.
Then they hear knocking sounds around the house in late night hours. A strange eerie sound, like a rat gnawing on the bedpost, chains being drug through the house, stones being dropped on the wooden floors, then gulping and choking sounds.
“It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfort of its victims” from the Goodspeed Brothers’ book “History of Tennessee” 1886.
Living in fear
For almost a year, the family lived in fear, terrified of what was happening, but told no one about the incidents at their farm.
But with the incidents escalating to his kids being beaten while sleeping in their beds, John Bell shared with his neighbor, James Johnson, inviting Mr. and Mrs. Johnson to spend the night and witness it alone.
The couple witnessed the events for several nights. Without the possibility of finding a solution to help or comfort his neighbor, James Johnson suggested forming a committee to investigate the incidents.
The word spread fast, and soon people were coming from all over the county and the state in disbelief to witness the poltergeist events that tormented the Bell’s property.
With more people, the unseen forces behind the event started gaining enough strength to manifest themselves with a voice.
When inquired what it was, it identified itself with different names, and one of these names belonged to an old Bell’s neighbor.
Who was the allegedly Bell Witch?
It was believed that the voice owner could be the Bell’s deceased neighbor, Kate Batts, who used to torment John Bell while in life and hated him.
Her afterlife missions were to kill John Bell, destroy the Bell’s youngest daughter Betsy’s engagement to Joshua Gardner, and put a curse on the Bell family. She never gave a reason for this mission.
For three years, Kate the Bell’s Witch tormented the family daily with poltergeist events and physical infringements. John and Betsy were her favorite targets.
But Betsy Bell received the most physical abuses, hair pulled, pinched, bloody scratches, stuck with pins to even be beaten.
Her father felt his throat swelling and, in other cases, as if a stick stuck his throat, also the start present signs of strokes; with his face twitching and jerking, the voice of the Bell Witch could be heard blasting him with curses and hideous threats during this strokes.
If from natural causes, for the stream stress involved during the years, or from the curse of the Bell Witch, John Bell became very weak.
The Bell Witch Mission Accomplished
After seven years of torments in the Bell’s Farm, on December 20, 1820, John Bell was found dead, and a vial of poison was located close to his body.
According to witnesses, the Bell Witch laughed throughout John Bell’s funeral.
Three months later, on March 1821, it was Betsy’s turn. The Bells’ youngest daughter broke off her engagement with Joshua Gardner.
The Bell Witch Returns
After this event, the Bell Witch promised to return in seven years, and for a few weeks in 1828, she visited the house of John Bell Jr.
The Witch then talks with him about the past and present, making predictions.
Even saying that had a reason for his father’s death, the Witch’s voice did not explain why.
At the end of this visit, the Bell Witch promised to return in 1935, approximately one hundred and seven years later.
It is believed that she did not leave the area; strange things continue to occur in the town of Adams and the Bell Witch Cave over thru years.
Most of the information above is based on the book from 1894, “An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch” by Martin Van Buren Ingram.
Now let’s look at some proven facts
The facts about the Bell Witch Haunting
Allegedly the blame for what happened in those three years at Bell’s Farm is the ghost of Kate Batts.
But how that can be possible if Kate Bates outlived John Bell Sr. by twenty-seven years, dying in 1847?
Who was Kate Batts?
Was Kate Batts a witch? It is hard to prove, but it said she was eccentric.
Also, know one of her Grandmothers was a Cherokee, and from her, she learned how to use herbs to heal people.
Data from the local courthouse show that possible the two families knew each other.
Did the Bell Witch kill John Bell Sr. by poison?
It is a possibility, but also Mr. Bell presented clear signs of stress, and some believed he took his own life to stop the haunting and suffering of his family.
Betsy Bell suffered as much as her father from 12 to 16 years old, lived 82 years old, outlived 7 of her nine children, and never slept by herself, always having one of her grandchildren sleeping with her.
It is believed to this day by family members that the curse continues to each firstborn male from each generation, and strange fatal accidents or deaths occurred to validate it, according to witnesses.
A possible reason for the Bell Witch Curse
The evidence points out that the area the Bell family occupied in 1804 was a Native American burial ground.
The story tells that two of Bell Sr.’s sons while digging on the farm, found a skull; they were fascinated with it and took the jaw from the head and took it home.
When John Bell found out, he ordered the boys to return it to the same place. Like any kids, they did not like the idea, and one threw the jawbone on the porch floor, breaking some of the teeth in it.
The father made them collect it and bury it back.
Later in one of the hauntings, the unbodied voice mentioned that they wanted the tooth back. John Bell Sr., with the help of others from the community, tried to find them on the farm ground the tooth without success.
Being related to native Americans is Kate Batts. The one who placed the curse on them, or was her name wrongly dragged into the story for the same reason?
Bell Witch on the media
There have been several movies based on the story, and as with any movie, the facts are distorted, and not much of the real story is left.
These are the cases of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, Bell Witch Haunting in 2004, An American Haunting in 2005, Bell Witch: The Movie in 2007, and most recently, The Bell Witch Haunting in 2013.
The paranormal reality TV shows also dive into the legends time-to-time, including an episode of Ghost Adventures filmed at the Bell Witch Cave.
But who has possibly got very close to the truth was “Cursed: The Bell Witch” in 2005, a five episodes miniseries based on one of the latest members of the Bell family trying to end the curse.
Do you have any evidence or information we did not mention here? We would love to hear from you.