Bell Witch

Betsy

Drawing of Betsy Bell from 1894.

Location: Adams, Tennessee

History

In 1817, the Bell family of the small town of Adams became victims of a poltergeist haunting.  Accounts say that is started with John Bell Sr. seeing a half rabbit, half dog creature while inspecting his fields one day.  The activity centered on the Bells’ youngest daughter, Betsy, and worsened after she became engaged to Joshua Gardner.  The haunting began with noises in the walls and grew to include unusual sounds; people being slapped and pinched, objects being thrown, and animals being spooked without visible cause.  Several accounts report that during his military career, Andrew Jackson was intrigued with the story and was frightened away after traveling to investigate.  It is also said that John Bell’s death was due to the witch poisoning him.  However doctors attribute it to a neurological disorder.  After his death the Bell family were no longer haunted by the witch.

Present Day

adams_13

The Bell Log Cabin. The last standing structure of the Bell farm.

A memorial to the Bell family can be found in the Bellwood cemetery which is located in Adams.  John Bell Sr. and his wife Lucy are also buried in the cemetery.  There is also a cave that can be visited in the town.  This cave however has no connection to the bell witch other than the fact it was owned by John Bell Sr.

In Pop Culture

  • The 1999 blockbuster The Blair Witch Project was influenced by the Bell witch.
  • An American Haunting was released in 2004 and is based of the Bell Witch.

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