Bell Witch, TN
by John Zaffis
In March of 2005, I was working on cases in Tennessee area which required me to travel there. I remember all of the stories about the Bell Witch and thought it was time to check things out. So one afternoon, Denise Jones of The Life Foundation and myself, traveled to this location and to say the least it is a very spooky area. In certain areas especially near the cave you can feel allot of spirits around and when visiting the cemetery you can definitely feel as if something or someone is around you. I believe this is due to the amount of recognition that is given to the original case of the Bell family. Unfortunately, Denise nor I captured any spirits on film that day, sorry. Now, I would like to tell you some of the history of the case that is known all over the world as "The Bell Witch".
In the year of 1817, a prosperous farmer named John Bell, his wife Lucy and their eight children began a three year ordeal with poltergeist assaults. This case was one of the most violent and malicious, centering mostly around their thirteen year old daughter Betsy and John Bell himself.
It all started one day when John, shot at a large dog-like creature which he had sighted on him farm. This was the beginning of the torment on the family from a poltergeist. It consisted of scratching noises on windows, stones being thrown, bedclothes being pulled off during the night and hair pulling.
They could hear the beating of wings inside the house and what sounded like gasping noises, as if someone trying to speak but having a hard time vocalizing words. Betsy was often slapped violently around the face, pins rammed into her, scratched and subjected to many blows, she tried to stay at a neighbors but it followed her there. This continued for two years, every night there was always a disturbance in the house. The other children were also having stones thrown at them, and guests at the house were being slapped in the face by the unseen force.
Eventually the poltergeist was able to vocalize and what started as a strange whistling noise turned into a gasping whisper. At this time Betsy began to suffer fainting fits and often went into a trance once this began. John Bell also began to take ill at this time, his tongue would swell making it difficult to eat and he was frequently slapped in the face. When he was outside it would pull him to the ground and his body would go into convulsions. the poltergeist tormented him to such a degree that he broke down and cried. Lights could be seen outside the house, loud raps and bangs literally shook the house. The entity claimed it was a witch called "Old Kate Batts", who was a neighbor of the Bells. It is hinted that John Bell had a business deal with her that did not turn out well and she continually threatened to get even with him.
On December 20, 1820, John died, the entity celebrated his passing by singing rowdy songs and pulling off his bedclothes. There was some talk that his medicine was tampered with and that one of the family pets died after a taste of the medicine. The phenomena calmed down considerably after John Bell died and his daughter Betsy moved away after being married. But it did not leave altogether, it warned the family that it would return in seven years. Little happened although it still tried to harass John Jr. and his mother who still lived in the house, they gave it very little recognition. After awhile it stated that it was leaving and would reappear in 1935, but nothing happened, as stated by a distant relative Dr. Charles Bell who then lived in the house.