Bell Witch Tennessee Legend


Bell Witch Tennessee Legend

​In this article we will be taking a look at the most well documented haunting in American history – the Bell Witch Tennessee Legend.

John Bell

Early on in the 1800’s many American citizens decided to uproot and move towards the Tennessee area to seek out new opportunities.

John Bell noticed the sudden trend and also decided to follow suit. He gathered his family along with all their belongings and headed West.

John saw a great deal of success in the early years at Tennessee resulting in a huge portion of land and a very impressive property to live in. He also made his name as a high ranking official at the local church.

Strange Happenings

In 1817 the Bells had been living in their impressive new home for nearly seven years – life couldn’t get any better really!

One day John Bell was out checking on the progress of his impressive crop range when he spotted something strange at the far end of the field. He moved closer to investigate further.

As he got nearer he realized he was looking at some sort of animal so he got his rifle ready. Suddenly this animal turned to face him and he was terrified by what he saw.

The animal was like nothing Bell had encountered before – it had the body of a large wolf or hound and the head seemed to be that of an over-sized rabbit.

He raised his gun and started shooting blindly at this grotesque creature until it ran off into the distance. He tried to put the image out of his mind and decided to forget about the encounter for the sake of his own sanity.

So, he returned to the family home and decided not to tell anyone about what he had just witnessed. Later that night, strange noises started up outside the Bell home – when he went outside to check he could find no evidence of where these noises were coming from.

Night after night these noises returned and progressively got worse. Eventually it sounded like there was some sort of beast scratching and beating at the outside walls, trying to get in.

In time, the noises started to originate from somewhere inside the house with the kids frequently complaining about scratching noises within their bedrooms. They also believed that something was trying to pull at their bed covers as they slept at night.

Paranormal Activity

The paranormal activity seemed to go from strength to strength and eventually gained a voice. The family could just make out the distant ramblings of an old female woman.

The voice eventually became more clear in volume and would sing out religious church songs and quote scripture.

The Bell Witch Cave
The Bell Witch Cave

This strange entity then began to talk directly to the Bell family members but it always seemed to be very cynical on every topic they covered. It eventually claimed to be the the “witch” of neighbor Kate Batts.

Batts had been involved in a strong argument with John Bell several years before. They had previously had a difference of opinion over the sale and purchase of a slave they both owned.


After a few months of pretty harmless haunting the spirit decided to center it’s attention on Bell’s youngest daughter Betsy. The witch would often physically attack her by pulling at her hair and slapping her around the face.

Bell decided to confide in his close friend James Johnston who eventually agreed to stay at their home and see for himself what was going on. He was not a believer in the paranormal but he was willing to volunteer his services to his good friend.

He turned up at the Bell residence later that night with his wife and retired to the guest bedroom to get some sleep. The poor couple were subjected to many violent acts throughout the night and they left in a hurry the next morning.

The Power of The Witch

The witch was the cause of much anguish not just for the family but also those associated with the family. When Betsy reached her teenage years of courting she fell for a man named Joshua Gardner.

Within a matter of months the two were engaged and the witch did not like this one little bit.

Whenever they entered the property the pair of lovers were subjected to all manner of cruel ghostly taunts. If they decided to ignore her efforts she would then turn to physical violence.

The intense pressure of the witch eventually became too much and Betsy decided to inform Gardner that the engagement was off. She did not want him to have to suffer from these paranormal attacks any longer.

The Torment

When John Bell finally reached old age the witch decided to make him her new target. He frequently fell ill due to his age but the spiteful paranormal entity would not let him rest.

She would continuously hound him and scratch at him as he fell asleep – on December 20, 1820 John Bell was found dead in his bed.

After discovering the body, one of John’s sons decided to search the room for any clues on his untimely death. When he opened the bedside cupboard he found a small bottle of dark black liquid.

Without warning the witch’s voice boomed out that she had forced John to drink some of the liquid the night before.

The son decided to test out the liquid and poured a little into the family cat’s bowl. The animal died within the hour.

John Bell’s funeral was one of the largest that the small Tennessee county had ever hosted. All through the service the locals claimed they could hear the spiteful laughs of the old witch.

The Return

After the funeral service the witch spoke to John’s wife and told her she would be leaving the family alone for a while. She promised to return in seven years to continue her persecution of the remaining Bell family members.

She was true to her word, seven years later she again began tormenting the bell family, particularly focusing on John Bell Jr. After a few months she stopped and claimed that this time she would be leaving the Bell family for 107 years before returning.

There is no record of the witch ever returning to haunt future generations of the bell family. Today not much is left of the old Bell estate. The popular spot to go and search for the witch is a cave on the bell property.

Many visitors to the area have complained about cameras not working and producing strange images when developed. Mists, orbs and humanoid shapes have all turned up on various photographs taken there.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the Bell Witch Tennessee legend please leave them in the comment section below.

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