The Bell Witch

The Bell Farm has been made notorious through books, TV specials and movies. The legend is the basis of the films An American Haunting (2006) and The Bell Witch Haunting (2004).

Between the years of 1817 and 1821, the Bell Family was terrorized by some sort of entity, mostly said to be a woman, who became known as the Bell Witch or, more personally, “Kate.” She is said to have perturbed and tortured John Bell (the father of the family and victim of a nervous system disorder) so much that it lead to his inevitable death. The "witch" behaved actually like a poltergeist, and did lots of annoying things like throw things around and scream/knock loudly at all hours.

John Bell was unable to sleep or recuperate and eventually died during the Bell Witch’s tenure. It is also said that a vile with a strange black liquid was found at John Bell’s deathbed and that Kate herself claimed she gave it to him. Supposedly, in order to test the liquids validity, a drop was placed on the family cat’s tongue and it immediately killed the animal. Betsy Bell, John’s daughter, is suspected of having faked the whole thing.  Reliable records are lacking, so we’ll probably never know whether the Bell Farm was truly haunted.

According to some paranormal researchers, the Bell Witch was the spirit of Kate Batts, a mean old neighbor of John Bell who believed she was cheated by him in a land purchase. On her deathbed, she swore that she would haunt John Bell and his descendents. The story is picked up by the Guidebook for Tennessee, published in 1933 by the Federal Government’s Works Project Administration.

Another versiuon states that the ghosst was merely a hoax perpetrated by Richard Powell, the schoolteacher of Betsy Bell and Joshua Gardner, with whom Betsy was in love. Through a variety of pranks, tricks, and with the help of several accomplices, it is theorized that Powell created all of the "effects" of the ghost to scare Gardner away. Reliable records are lacking, so we’ll probably never know whether the Bell Farm was truly haunted.

Some claim that the spirit still haunts the area. On the property once owned by the Bells is a cave, which has since become known as The Bell Witch Cave, and many locals claim to have seen strange apparitions at the cave and at other spots on the property.