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The Most Famous Haunting in the U.S. That You May Never Have Heard Of

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I credit my interest in the paranormal to a book I read when I was a kid called, “America’s Very Own Ghost,” by Daniel Cohen. One of the stories in that book is the legend of the Bell Witch. Arguably the most famous report of a poltergeist that tormented the Bell family dating back to the early 1800s.

This haunting garnered so much attention, that soon to be President, General Andrew Jackson made a trip to the Bell homestead, just to experience this activity himself. Reports claim that the General and his men didn’t even last one night at the Bell home.

Throughout the years several movies were made and many books have been written in regards to the Bell Witch haunting. There are many different stories told about who the witch was and why she haunted the Bell’s. What we do know is that the occurrences started in the summer of 1817, when John Bell saw an animal with the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit, out in his fields. After that, the family members started hearing banging outside the cabin quite frequently. They also would hear the sounds of rats gnawing at their bedposts at night.

Things got progressively worse from then on, especially for John and his daughter Betsy. They seemed to be the most targeted from the spirit. The entity seemed to get stronger as time went on. The family would hear it humming and singing, and reports are that it told the family its name was Kate Batts, a neighbor of the Bells. It also made its intentions known, saying it wanted John dead and Betsy not to marry a certain man she was courting.

The next couple of years got even worse for the Bells, with John and Betsy being physically violated by the witch. They were repeatedly slapped and choked. John developed facial seizures and fell into a coma. In December of 1820, John Bell died, and the witch who claimed to be Kate said it was all her doing. The family found a mysterious bottle of liquid by John’s body, which they force-fed their cat, which then died. Speculation would presume that the witch poisoned John.

In 1821, Betsy broke off her engagement with the man the witch did not want her to marry. The family was once again at peace and the Bell Witch's reign of terror was over. Although the Bell cabin is long gone, you can visit a replica of the cabin and visit the cave on the Bell’s actual property, located at 430 Keysburg Rd, Adams, TN 37010. Call ahead at 615-696-3055.