QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-09 > 1096465047
Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 09:37:27 EDT
The Bell Witch of Tennessee
In Robertson County Tennessee, near the Kentucky State line the most
extraordinary haunting occurs. The Bell Witch, an entity that first made its
appearance in 1817 to John Bell and his family, is still present today although no
Bells occupy the area and the farm house where the haunting focused is no
longer present. It was burned to the ground by neighbors who witnessed attacks
against the Bell family and who feared for their own safety.
The true identity of this spirit is unknown but it is felt that The Bell
Witch is none other than the moody Kate Bats of Halifax, North Carolina. She
was engaged to John Bell until her untimely death sometime in the 1770's. Her
lifeless body was found near a well close to her home. The circumstances
surrounding her death are mysterious and remain unsolved.
John Bell, her future husband, wasted no time mourning the loss of his
intended. He married Lucy shortly after Kate's funeral. The newly married couple
made Tennessee their home. In 1817 John noticed a doglike creature in his
cornfield. Not wishing to have his crops trampled or destroyed, he got his gun
and fired upon the animal. The creature disappeared immediately into thin
air. This was the beginning of the end for John Bell and his family. Almost
immediately they were plagued with sounds of someone wishing to enter their
home - scratching, knocking and banging on the front door. Someone or
something wanted in.
Soon enough, the presence found a way into the home and began to torment all
that crossed the threshold. The presence introduced itself as The Bell
Witch and while it focused most of its violence on John, the nine Bell children
were also frequently attacked. The children were attacked as they tried to
sleep by an unseen presence pulling their hair, slapping them, and whispering in
their ears. As they would walk to school in the daylight they would be
showered with rocks and sticks falling from thin air. The presence especially
enjoyed tormenting the twelve-year-old Betsy Bell. Betsy would hear a
disembodied voice that would grow closer each day, she would fly into convulsions,
and found herself falling into a dead faint as the haunting grew more intense.
No one was safe from the evil spirit. Anyone crossing the threshold of the
Bell home was fair game. Minister Johnson was asked by John Bell to bless
his home and perform an exorcism. This did nothing but anger the spirit who
then retaliated against the Minister by her usual use of violence.
A family friend, William Porter, came to visit the Bells. The Bell Witch
announced to William that she would keep him warm as he slept. Having
announced her plans, she proceeded to pull the covers from him. Within moments he
felt a snake-like cold chill sliding against him. William quickly decided to
capture the spirit within the blanket so that he could toss blanket and spirit
upon the flames in the fireplace. However, the presence he captured within
the folds of the blanket grew heavier and heavier with each step he took and
a foul odor began to emanate from the blanket as well. The weight of the
blanket and the foul odor overcame William. He dropped the blanket and fled the
John Bell, Jr. and Jesse Bell had fought under General Andrew Jackson in the
Battle of New Orleans. The two had developed a good rapport with Andrew
Jackson so in 1819, when Jackson got word of the disturbances at the Bell home
he came calling to assist.
General Andrew Jackson brought with him a witch slayer and an entourage of
men. The wagon they were using suddenly stopped moving once it came within
close proximity of the farm. The horses could not budge the wagon even after
the men threw their shoulders into the wagon and began to push. After an hour
of cursing and ranting, General Jackson is said to have acknowledged it must
be the work of the Bell Witch. At which time, it is reported that The Witch
laughed and told Jackson he would be seeing her later that evening. The
wagon was then freed and able to move.
Upon their arrival to the farm, the witch slayer attempted to contact the
Witch. He cursed her, laughed at her and then finally attempted to shoot the
Bell Witch with a silver bullet. To his consternation and everyone's
amazement, he was slapped, battered and tossed about the room by unseen hands. The
witch slayer, Andrew Jackson and his entourage quickly fled. Andrew Jackson
is reported to have said he would battle the entire British Army anytime,
however, he would not wish to deal with the Bell Witch again.
Overtime, the Bell family suffered repeated attacks. When Betsy, John and
Lucy's daughter, began to date a young man, Josh Gardner, the Bell Witch did
not approve. Betsy was singled out again and tormented to the point that she
ended her engagement with Gardner. After that was done, the Witch focused on
John Bell once again.
John Bell was plagued by several illnesses of which The Bell Witch claimed
credit. One attempt she made upon his life was prevented when it was noticed
that John's tonic had been switched with poison. However, December 19, 1820
John slipped into a delirium that he never fully recovered from. The Bell Witch
is said to have sung at his funeral the next day.
After his funeral The Bell Witch declared she would return in seven years.
In 1828 she did return but only for a short period where she tried to torment
Lucy and two of her sons. While the Witch has returned and continues to
torment the Bell family regardless of where they are, it is not nearly the same
level of torment she committed upon John Bell.
If the Bell Witch was Kate Batts, John's intended this would make the most
sense. Whether John had a hand in her death or not, his quick marriage to
Lucy implies that Kate was not happy about John being happy and returned to make
him suffer. Her body was barely cold before John found a new willing bride.
Perhaps, John was Kate's unfinished business. With John's death, Kate's or
the Bell Witch's business was finished.
There are still reports today that the area known as the Bell Farm is still
being haunted not only by the Bell Witch but also by John, Lucy, and perhaps
even Betsy Bell. The house is gone but the spirits still linger.
Emotions dictate behavior in life so why not in death? Is it possible that
Kate was so angry with John at the time of her death that she came back to
exact vengeance? The question is not whether or not John had a hand in her
death but what did John do to warrant such a vicious haunting?
Kate was a violent and spiteful spirit that delighted in others sufferings.
Perhaps, this is because she was unable to live her life in happiness as she
died before marrying John. Then having the man who professed his undying
love for her, seek out and marry another immediately after her funeral! John's
behavior seems odd for this day and age, and one would have to assume it was
even in the 1770's given the haunting of the Bell Witch.