Several generations of the Bell family were haunted by the witch, who took responsibility for one of their deaths.
A Curse is Given
Unfortunately, during this period of buying up property, he had slighted his neighbour, Kate Batts. She believed John had cheated her on a land purchase and never forgave him. We can imagine the type of anger that would have eventuated between the two, but this would not stop at being just a neighbourly quarrel – this feud would become a thing of legend.
Kate Batts died sometime before 1817, and on her deathbed, still carrying a grudge towards John, she swore she would haunt the Bell family and all of their descendants.
Haunting of the Bell Home
It began its physical interferences of the Bell's by grabbing at the children's sheets and blankets, sliding it off them as they slept. Three of the bell children, sharing the one bed, were awakened by a scream one night, to find an invisible force tugging at their bed clothes.
From that point on the Bell family did not know what was going to happen next. Items were stolen or hidden about the house and property. The children were slapped and pinched. At night, the sound of the wooden posts and supports of the house could be heard being chewed on, and strange animals were seen out in the yard.
What seemed to be quite strange was the ghost focussed most of its more malicious activities on John Bell and his daughter Betsy (Elizabeth). Pinching, slapping and screaming at these two Bell's seemed to bring the ghost enjoyment. It would laugh when Betsy cried, or manage to cause John visible discomfort.
Soon the voice became clear enough that the family could tell what it was saying. It repeatedly told how it was going to kill John Bell, and would at times call other family members by name.
Soon enough, it got to a point where Betsy was being assaulted in her sleep, waking with cuts and bruises. Not knowing what else to do, John Bell invited his friend James Johnson for dinner, and to stay the night. He and his wife witnessed the haunting for themselves, including, what they now referred to as a witch.
Word Spreads - A Famous Witness
People flocked to the Bell home in order to experience the witch for themself, and experience it they did. The witch let herself be known, never seen, but always heard. She was never rude or mean to the guests, and even at times would shake their hands if offered.
It seemed like a very far out story, but it was taken very seriously in some quite high circles. General Andrew Jackson (who would go on to become the 7th President of the United States) gathered a group of friends and journeyed to the property in Adams, Tennessee, in order to experience the activity for himself and either prove it was somehow a hoax, or that it was a real haunting.
Jackson, at a loss for any other explanation, jokingly claimed it must be the witches doings, to which a high pitch voice replied from across the road "All right General, let the wagon move on, I will see you again tonight." and the wagon did just that, and the group continued to the house.
General Andrew Jackson and his group had planned to stay the week, but ended up moving along the next day, having suffered their fair share of activity, and no way to prove it a hoax. They were pinched, slapped, had their hair pulled, all the while Betsy Bell screamed and shrieked from the abuses the witch was causing her. His experiences at the Bell home do not appear in his personal writings, but are told from other sources.
For reason I can not fathom, the Bell family stayed in their house through all this time, never moving on.
The Curse Runs Its Course?
The following day he went as the witch predicted, John Bell was dead at 70 years old. The Bell witch sang joyously at the close of John’s funeral, and could be continued to be heard as the family and friends filed away.
The witch returned as promised in 1828, this time manifesting, appearing to John Bell Jr, John Bell’s son. She left Bell Jr with visions and prophecies of the future, and before she left him, she said she would return more than a century later in 1935.
It has not been told whether she kept that promise or not.
Nearby to the Bell house there is a cave known as the Bell Witch Cave. People have reported seeing strange figures and experiencing strange phenomena in the area surrounding it. Some believe this is where the Bell Witch resides when not taunting the family and its descendants.
Researchers who have looked into the history of the Bell Witch find many inconsistencies and cite that most of the material as told today come from records created several decades after the original series of events took place. One can not be certain that any of these events happened and at the very least will have been greatly exaggerated with each retelling.
Many versions of the story exist including changing who the protagonist of the tale is. However, all refer to a Bell Witch.
An actual terrifying haunting or a fantastic piece of folklore... you can make the call, but either way it makes for a good bit of reading.