Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Bell Witch Hauntings/The Bell Witch Cave - Adams, Tennessee

In the early 1800's farmer John Bell settled along the banks of the Red River in Tennessee near what is now the city of Adams.  He had a wife and four children, three son's and a daughter.  At one point in 1817, John was inspecting his crops when he came across a strange animal in his field.  He claimed it was a cross between and rabbit and a dog.  He took a few shots at the animal which fled away.  This triggered a series of events which would go down in history as "America's Greatest Ghost Story" and would lead to the making of the film "Blair Witch Project".

A sketch of the Bell farm house in the early 1800's

After the incident with the bizarre animal, the family began to hear strange knocking and banging sounds outside of their home.  Which when investigated, would reveal nothing or no body.  Or at least they thought.  The sounds began to move inside the home.  Objects began moving around and the children began experiencing abuse of a physical nature when they would be poked, prodded, jabbed, and have their hair pulled by an invisible entity. Her favorite target seemed to be Betsy Bell.  Then the sounds slowly grew into a distinguishable voice over time.  The entity claimed to be the spirit of Kate Batts, one of John Bell's neighbors with who he had had bad dealings.  Family and friends visiting the Bell household have verified these claims and have said to had conversations with the spirit of Kate Bell who became known as "The Bell Witch". 

As word spread about the Bell Witch haunting, General Andrew Jackson who had commanded John Bell's son's in the military decided to pay a visit to see this haunting first hand.  As he and his party arrived at the Bell farm in their carriages, the wheels on the carriages seized and would move no further.  Right on que, the Bell witch spoke up and claimed responsibility.  She allowed the party to proceed to the Bell home where later she physically tormented one of the men who claimed to be a witch tamer.  Most of Jackson's party wanted to leave immediately, but Andrew Jackson wanted to stay.  However, in the morning when folks in the house awoke, Jackson and his party of men were gone.

Eventually, the spirit took on an evil nature as John Bell fell very ill and was bed ridden.  The spirit claimed responsibility for this.  One day John was found in his bed in a strange contorted position.  He had been given a vial of what was believed to be his medicine, however the traces in the vial seemed to be of a pure black substance.  When a drop of it was given to the family cat, the cat died shortly thereafter and so did John Bell.  The spirit of the witch did not rest as she tormented the family by shrieking, moaning, cursing, and chastising John during his funeral ceremony.  After the ceremony ended, it is said the the witch serenaded visitors out of the cemetery by singing a drinking song.  When the last funeral guest left, all was silent.

A sketch of Betsy Bell

After John Bell's death the spirit continued to haunt Betsy Bell.  She tormented Betsy and demanded that she not marry the love of her life.  She did end up marrying another in 1821 to the spirit's approval.  The Bell witch disappeared but not before promising to return in seven years which she did and haunted the family for a brief time.  Again the spirit disappeared and promised to return in one hundred and seven years and haunt the nearest living relative of John Bell.  The nearest relative to John Bell who was Charles Bell,  after writing a book about the haunting in 1934, died a few years afterward. 

Tombstone of John Bell

It is believed that "The Bell Witch" never left the farm. Countless stories of strange mists, plasma orbs, shadow people appearing in photos that were not present when they were taken, and many other odd occurrences and sightings.  An old cave was located on the farm overlooking the banks of the Red River.  Betsy Bell had told stories of encounters with the Bell Witch in that cave.  Many believe that this cave is the gateway to the netherworld from which the spirit passes back and forth.  After many years and a few owners of the property, people have come from miles around to get a look at and ask for a tour of "The Bell Witch" cave.  People say they have gone into the cave and after a while they are overcome with a strange "heavy" feeling.  They feel tightness in their chest like they are being suffocated by some unseen force and fall to the floor.

Entrance to The Bell Witch Cave

Some say the paranormal occurrences that have occurred on the Bell farm are due to the fact that an old Indian burial mound is located on the property.  They say spirits from the dead have exuded some kind of supernatural force on the area.  Once the body of an Indian maiden was found nearby and taken to the cave on the property with the knowledge that Indian burial grounds were nearby.  At one point, the bones from the Indian maiden's remains were taken by curiosity seekers investigating the cave.  There are stories that after those people took those artifacts home, they and their homes also became haunted.  In fact, it is believed that anything taken from the cave will pass the haunting onto you.  Many people have returned small rocks and stone to the land owners claiming to have experienced bad things after removing them from the cave.  The cave is still open to visitors to this day.  And stories of the Bell Witch haunting have inspired many books and movies over the years including "The Blair Witch Project", and "An American Haunting".


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