During the month of October, we will visit places where the legends of old have not been disproven, even to this day. One of these hauntingly, mysterious places is Robertson County, Tenn., where a legendary witch laid claim to John Bell and his family in the early 1800s. The movie, "An American Haunting," which stared Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland, is based on this well known haunting. Our host, who is waiting on us there, is the "Bell Witch."
Adams, Tenn. is a small town in Robertson County, which is located north of Nashville, near the Kentucky State line. The town was originally named Red River, and later changed to Adams. Before it was even incorporated as Red River, John Bell and his family moved there in 1804, where he acquired 300 acres of farm land along the river.
Bell began farming the land, and for several years everything went along as planned, and he and his family became members of The Red River Baptist Church, where John served as a deacon.
Things changed for the worst in the summer of 1817, when John Bell was out in one of his field areas, and was carrying his rifle. As he was looking his crops over, he saw a strange looking animal, that appeared to have the head of a rabbit and the body of a dog. According to legend, he shot the animal, and it just vanished. This episode was evidently the beginning of the Bell Witch Haunting.
After dinner on this particular date, it started! The Bell Family heard beating sounds, as if someone was striking the outside of their house with something, but upon going outside, John could not determine what was causing the sounds. Different family members supposedly observed more odd looking animals on the farm in the next few weeks, and the beating sounds continued.
Things really began escalating when they heard what sounded like humans gurgling and chocking, and sounds of chains be pulled throughout their home. This went on for sometime before the Bell Family decided to tell others in the community about what was happening. The family even invited others to the house, and supposedly they heard the same sounds.
As time passed, the noises continued, and to their terror, were accompanied by assaults on the Bell Family and others who spent the night with them. According to accounts, covers would be pulled off people while they slept, and they would be slapped and pinched by unseen hands. One person seemed to be more of a target for these assaults than others. Betsy Bell, one of the daughters, was attacked to the point that she had welts on her body from what appeared to be a hand, and when she was engaged to be married, the entity caused so much chaos that she broke off the engagement. It has been reported that after this happened, her attacks were not as frequent.
But according to legend, the spirit turned its attention to John Bell, who suffered assaults that led to seizures, and John Bell finally died in 1820. After his death, the family found a strange looking bottle, containing a liquid. Believing that Bell may have been poisoned by the witch, they fed the cat some of it, and the cat died. It has been reported that the witch even spoke to the family, telling them that she had poisoned John Bell.
After Bell's death, the hauntings became fewer and fewer, but some people still report strange sounds and strange beings on and around the old Bell farm, and also in a cave on the property, aptly named the Bell Cave. According to other reports, General Andrew Jackson, who was to later become President of the United States, visited the farm with an entourage, but left early the next morning because one of his men had been beaten by the entity during the night.
If you have the nerve and steadfastness to take on the Bell Witch, check out the following website for tour information (Bell Witch Cave).
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