Tennessee is filled with an abundance of beautiful country side; towering trees that seem to
yearn to touch the sky as they are so tall, weeping willows that if one were sitting beneath them
they could easily go unseen, rolling rivers that go on for miles with lush banks of greenery as
well as rich legend and lore.
Not far from the small town of Adams Tennessee, a large family farm sits quietly in Robertson
County. Originally from North Carolina, John Williams Bell Sr. came to this beautiful part of
Tennessee with his wife and children in 1804. They settled on a piece of land which sat nestled
near the Red River. It was abundant in beautiful scenery and wildlife. They would live quietly in
their new home for the first 13 years. After this, things would change.
It is said that the first reported haunting occurred in 1817 when John Williams Bell Sr. was out
hunting one of the many cornfields that covered his property. John was on one of his familiar
hunting trips when he spied what he described as a strange looking animal. He would later
describe the animal in question as having the body of a dog yet the head of a rabbit. He shot at
the animal he spoke of yet did not bring his bounty home.
Later the family would describe visits to their family home where they would hear knocking at
their front door accompanied by a gnawing sound outside. The noise would eventually move
into the house as well yet it could never be seen. Betsy, the youngest daughter of the Bell
family would tell of moments when she would be attacked. Likewise the force would come
out of nowhere and show no physical presence. The unseen force took up residence in the
family household and was said to move objects as well as hold conversation with the family and
Word traveled fast as in most small areas and soon people was coming from all around to
witness the odd occurrences at the Bell Farm. In a conversation with the entity, it was asked
who it was and why it tormented the Bells with such a vengeance. It gave different identities to
itself yet the one that seemed to stick was when it claimed to be the witch of a neighbor woman
named Kate. It was there after referred to as “Kate” or “Bells Witch”.
It seemed that the reason that the entity continued to torment the Bell household was two-fold.
One was to kill John Bell yet a definite reason for this act was never given. Some believe it to
be because of the initial incident of when John shot at the strange animal in the woods. Many
believe that this creature was actually the witch herself flying through the woods on her broom.
The other reason for her visit was to detour young Betsy Bell from marrying Joshua Gardner, a
neighbor boy whom she had become engaged to. For a total of three years the Bell family was
said to have been tormented, although the majority of the acts were inflicted on John and his
daughter. Betsy would have episodes where her hair would be pulled; she would be scratched,
pinched and even beaten. John on the other hand had a worse fate. He would experience
spells where his throat would swell and a feeling likened to a stick being stuck in his throat
could be felt. He also developed a twitching and jerking of his facial muscles. “Kate” would also
verbally spat curses and threats at him which seemed to make him weak and despondent.
It is said that as John grew weaker, Kate grew stronger. She would share stories with those
who traveled to experience her presence. She was said to be very intelligent regarding the
bible as well as past and future events. It was also thought that she could be in more than one
place at a time.
In 1820 John Bell finally passed on. Many to this day believe it was Kate who poisoned him.
Yet no proof of this was ever found. Also soon after her father’s death in December, Betsy
discontinued her plans of marriage to Mr. Gardner. It was at this time that “Kate” was said to
have left the Bell’s home yet she promised to return in seven years. John Bell Jr. claimed she
returned as she had promised in 1828, seven years after her departure. He told of their long
talks about past, present and future occurrences. Her next predicted return was to have been in
107 years from the date of her last visit. This would have thus, taken place in 1935. The stories
are mixed as to whether or not she did return. Some swear that she did while others deny her
Today one can go back in time and visit the farm grounds where the Bell family had lived. Their
original home has since fallen yet a replica has been built in its place. In the nearby Bell Cave
where the witch is to this day said to reside, visitors can venture down for a tour. If one is really
daring, a tour at night is available upon request. During the Halloween season special nightly
tours are conducted with a bit more in-depth experience than the normal tour can also be had.
Photography is said to be quite difficult in the area of the cave. Those who have attempted
usually complain of unexplained blurry photos as well as obscure shadows in their shots. There
have even been reports of camera’s completely not working.
Although the Bell Witch has not made a recent appearance in many years, it is highly believed
that she still resides in the dark caverns of Bell Cave. It is cautioned not to take objects, rocks,
etc from the grounds as it will harbor the spirit of the witch and you take the chance of taking a
piece of her home with you, wherever that may be. As in all urban legends, there are those who
strongly believe and those who strongly disbelieve. Whatever side you chose to take I still dare
you on a cool brisk October night when the only light that one has is that from the full moon to
venture down to the entrance of the cave and see what might happen. Who knows maybe you
will have a chat with the Bell Witch or better yet catch a glimpse of her on her broom as she flies
through the sky. A Happy Halloween to All of You.