Adams, TN

The Legend of The Bell Witch

Sara B
The Bell Witch historical marker in Adams, TNLarry Mccormack/Tennessean

The story begins in Adams, Tennessee, in the year 1804. John Bell moves his family from North Carolina to Tennessee. The Bells settle down on a 320-acre farm and become successful farmers.

However, the trouble on the farm does not start until the mid-1810s; not just any family, one that made the journey with them from North Carolina, The Batts family.

In 1816 Frederick Batts was injured while working on his farm. The family became desperate for money and began to sell pieces of their family farm.

John Bell takes advantage of this and buys land from Frederick at a discount. Kate Batts, the wife of Frederick, is not pleased. She accuses John of exploitation of their situation. The war has begun.

Kate vowed to make the Bells pay for what they did to her family. However, this was not the only issue for contention. The following incident happened was John Bell purchased a slave girl from Benjamin Bell, Fredericks's brother.

John did not feel the slave girl was ready to leave her mother, so he wanted to leave her with her until she was ready; he had already paid the price Benjamin had requested. When John went to collect her, Benjamin decided he wanted more money for the girl; John refused to pay; instead, he sold her back to Benjamin for more than the price he paid.

This incident escalated the feud between families. Kate was even more convinced that John Bell was extorting money from them, and she took the issue to the law.

The Batts family then filed a lawsuit against John Bell for extortion; they forgot to tell John Bell that they were suing him, and John did not show up for court. The Batts won the lawsuit by default. Once the church found out, the Bells were excommunicated; some say this left him open for evil to enter his house.

Kate, at this point, was the head of the household since Frederick was injured and unable to work or do the household duties. It made her angry, and she was not well-liked in the community; some even accused her of practicing witchcraft. As a result, many in the community avoided her and thought she was intimidating.

1817 after his ex-communication, Bell was hunting and ran into a creature on his land. The animal had a dog's body, the head of a rabbit, black fur, and blood-red eyes. John attempted to kill the beast, but after he fired his gun, he went to look for it, and it was nowhere to be seen and never found. He never told his family, but after this incident, weird things started happening to his family.

They heard stones hitting the outside of the house, he never saw any trespassers, and Bell assumed it was the Batts family. Except it also started happening inside the home—the scraping sounds on the floors and walls. Animals eating the legs on the beds, the family could never find the source of the sounds. Soon after, the family started to experience physical attacks from something inside the house.

One night the daughter had been woken up in her sleep from noises and found that her hair had been tied in knots around the bedposts. Unseen forces hit her as she lay there, unable to move. She had red welts all over her hands and face; the other children also started waking up with similar injuries. There are also rumors that she pulled blankets off them and would slam doors in the middle of the night.

The family kept this to themselves and prayed to be released from the evil spirits. However, it did not help the family. Apparitions kept appearing to the family and the slaves on the property. One day it became too much, and Bell asked his neighbor to help him eliminate the spirits. As they were praying, they asked the spirit's name, and the spirit said, Kate.

Once the news got out about the hauntings at the Bells, spectators began to flock to the Bell Farm. Including Andrew Jackson. However, this is only a rumor as there are no facts to back up that Andrew Jackson was ever at the Bell Farm.

It is also rumored that John's wife was not affected by the witch. Instead, she was sung to and received gifts from the spirit. As they were related.

It is also speculated that the spirit ¨Kate¨was responsible for the death of John Bell, who was found dead in his bed. John was found with a foul odor coming from him and a liquid near the bed with the same scent. He is said to have been poisoned by ¨Kate¨or The Bell Witch. It is the part of the story where The Bell witch speaks up and states that she gave John a hefty dose of his nightly medication, and he will never get out of bed again.

It has become the first death in history blamed on the supernatural.

Many thought this would be the end of the hauntings until John's daughter Betsy received a proposal from a man named Joshua Gardner. Betsy was warned not to marry this man, so she followed the advice and broke off the engagement.

The rumors have continued for years. To this day, people who live in the Adama area claim to see the beast with red eyes. Also, stories of those who have visited the Bell Farm and have removed parts have had bad luck following them off the farm.

It also leaves me questioning why Kate Batts was assumed to be The Bell Witch. She was still alive when this happened, or did she conjure up a spirit to terrorize the Bells using witchcraft?

Is this all superstition? Who knows. If you want more information read the Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch by Martin V. Ingram. Read free here. (affiliate link).

This story has many versions, with a lot of references that I utilized including articles, youtube videos and shows based on paranormal activity.

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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news. Living nomadically since 2018, currently in Colombia.

Pasadena, CA

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