The Bell Witch Legend

The Bell Witch legend goes way back to the early 1800s when John Bell bought a property in the then called Red River, Tennessee and moved his family from North Carolina. The name of the town has since changed to Adams, Tennessee. John Bell acquired more land and he had a total acreage of 328 acres. He had six children in total, three born in North Carolina and three in Tennessee namely, Betsy, Richard and Joel. He began farming on his land and one day while he was out in the fields, he encountered a strange looking animal in the middle of the crops. He did the only natural thing he could do. He shot at it and missed, but it disappeared. However, later that night at the dinner table, the family began hearing strange noises and knocks on the walls of the family’s log house.

These happenings and even more weird happenings continued in the next days and the family was frightened. The children reported being woken up by rats gnawing at their bed posts or having their bed covers pulled from their beds. John Bell confided in a neighbor who witnessed first-hand some of the strange happenings in the Bell household. He even had his bed covers pulled and was slapped a few times by someone he could not see! Legend has it that the spirit tormented John Bell to death and prevented his daughter Betsy from marrying a boy from the neighborhood named Joshua

Over the years as people have heard about this story, interest in the Bell Witch has grown. Books have been written and movies made on it. The story is even taught in schools in Tennessee as part of their history lesson. Ric White, a writer and director of the movie “The Bell Witch Haunting” had a strange experience of their fax machine in the office catching fire and in turn burning their office down. Luckily they had copies of the films they had taken while shooting the movie at the Bell property. Linda Thornton a producer of the same movie heard someone call her name twice after taking a group of people to tour the property but on turning could not see who was calling her. In 1980 Robert L. visited the property and since the then owners were not home, he decided to sit and wait. He could hear a woman’s voice singing in the cave. During another visit someone unseen turned out the lights on him while he was in the cave.

Theories have it that Katie Batts, who was John Bell’s neighbor, is the Bell Witch. John and Katie had some business disagreements and John Bell was even ex-communicated by the Red River Baptist Church because of these differences. Katie Batts was still not happy and it is thought that she vowed to torment John even from her grave, which seemed to be what she continued doing. This theory cannot be confirmed but most people tend to believe it because of what happened between John Bell and Katie Batts back then. Some recorded accounts even have Katie Batts as a witch who used to collect pins that she used to torment people with.

The Bell home in Adams, Tennessee is now a tourist attraction and people who have heard this tale visit to see first-hand. There still are strange happenings that are reported on the property, even up to this day.



8 thoughts on “The Bell Witch Legend

      1. jfwknifton

        I’m not aware of any based on business differences, but a similar, good strong haunting would be the Enfield Poltergeist, which seems to elicit two responses…those who are terrified and those who,, as always, just think it is all made up. If you just want to see something frightening, then try “Ghostwatch” with Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith and Craig Charles. Based on the Enfield Poltergeist, it is regularly quoted as the most frightening thing ever on the BBC and while you can now get it on DVD, it was shown once on BBC1 and then banned for a long, long time. If anybody does watch it, I would strongly recommend that you don’t have children with you. It proved too upsetting for them when originally shown, admittedly, after our 9 o’clock watershed.


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