Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Bell Witch of Tennessee

What is the best state to reside in during the month of October?  Why Tennessee of course!  Not because of the beautiful weather, gorgeous foliage and bright blue skies, but because we are home to the most documented haunting in the United States!  We even have a state marker dedicated to her shenanigans.
I am sure that you have heard of the infamous Bell Witch of Tennessee in some form or another.  Every few years there are new movies and books made about Old Kate. 

Theories abound about Kate's identity and origin.  Was she a disgruntled neighbor of John Bell, a prosperous farmer in middle Tennessee during the early eighteen hundreds?  Did John cheat Kate and her family out of some land?  Was the spirit a remnant of a Native American demon? Or was the spirit a poltergeist stirred up by John's daughter, Betsy Bell?  We may never know the true identity of the Bell Witch, but she sure showed us her true nature.
The Bell Witch loved to cause trouble.  She made noises in the night and pulled covers off of the sleeping Bell family.  She soon found her voice and the family would hear her sing hymns and quote the Bible.  As her power grew, so did her reputation.  Even General Andrew Jackson heard of her antics and visited the Bell family to catch a glimpse of the spirit.

The Bell Witch meddled in every aspect of the Bell's family life, but took a special interest in young Betsy Bell.  The spirit went as far as to break up the engagement between Betsy and her neighbor Joshua Gardner.  Irritating behavior for a spirit, but harmless when compared with her interest in John Bell.  After the patriarch was found dead in his bed with an unknown bottle near him, the spirit claimed to have 'given him a big dose  last night, which fixed him!'
The Bell Witch promised to return to the family after seven years, and by all reports, she kept her word.  Supposedly she predicted the outbreak of the Civil War.  She then promised to visit John Bell's descendent 107 years later, in 1935.  There was one family descendent in Nashville at the time, Dr. Charles Bailey Bell, who wrote his own book about the witch.  Apparently she has not been seen or heard of since.

October is a wonderful time to take a scenic trip to Adams, Tennessee.  You can enjoy the spectacular fall colors and stop in to visit at the site of the old Bell Farm.  The caverns on the property are open for tours, that is if you aren't too scared of Old Kate.