The Legend of the Bell witch is unique in it's authentication and it's wide acceptance as having truly occured. The activity which the Bell family experienced at the hands of the entity is validated by many witnesses. The Bell Witch is also the only entity known to have taken a life.
Those who witnessed the demonstrations knew that it had a wonderful power of intelligence, possessing great knowledge of men and things; a spirit that could apparently read minds, tell men's secrets, repeat sermons word for word and sing every song in the hymn book. It often assumed a pious character, enjoying religious discussions and quoting scripture with absolute accuracy.
The earliest written account of the happenings at Bell farm is at page 833 in the Goodspeed History of Tennessee, published in 1887 by Goodspeed Publishing.
The most famous account is recorded in what has come to be called the Red Book, the 1894 An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch of Tennessee by Martin Van Buren Ingram, which cites the earlier Richard William Bell's Diary: Our Family Trouble. Richard Williams Bell lists several witnesses, including General (later President) Andrew Jackson. However, no mention of the Bell Witch was ever made by Jackson in any of his letters, journals or papers.
The Black Book was written much later and it told a lot about the Bell Witch, and published in 1934 by Dr. Charles Bailey Bell, great-grandson of John Bell.
It started with John Bell in the 1800 who moved his family to a settlement in Red River, Robertson County,Tenessee. John Bell was a town Elder in the Bapist Church and was a prominent member of the community, owned a large plot of land and house.
One day, John encountered a strange animal in one of his corn fields. It had the body of a large dog, and the head of a rabbit. When he made to shoot it, the creature vanished. Later that night, the Bell family experienced sounds of someone "beating" the walls of their log house from the outside.
These sounds continued each night and became more frenzied and forceful. Although Bell and his sons would rush outside to catch the perpetrator, they would find the land deserted. It was then that Bell's children began to wake in the night, scared by sounds of rats gnawing at their beds, or having their bed covers ripped from their beds and tossed to the ground by an unseen entity.
Things continued to escalate from this point, and the Bell family was tormented by whispering voices behind them when they were alone, and sounds of an old woman singing. Betsy, the youngest daughter would have hand prints on her face and body, and said to have had her hair pulled and slapped by an invisible entity. John went to a neighbour for help, by the name of James Johnston.
The man stayed over at the Bell home with his wife, and in turn experienced the same disturbances.
The entity seemed gather strength over time to the point where it was loud and unmistakeable. It would sing, quote scripture and call out to the family jeering and shouting insults. Eventually the voice could be heard all over the Bell land.
The children could not go to the river, fields or cave to play without being taunted endlessly by the entity.
It continued to express its dislike for John Bell and vowed relentlessly to kill him.
John Bell's health began to rapidly decline. He would have episodes of uncontrollable facial twitching, and difficulty swallowing. By the fall of 1820, John was confined to his house, where the entity would pull of his shoes when he tried to walk or slap his face. Her loud, shrill voice could be heard all over the farm, cursing and chastising "Old Jack Bell," as she often referred to him.
John Bell breathed his last breath on the morning of December 20, 1820. Immediately after his death, the family found a small vial of unidentified liquid in the cupboard. John Bell, Jr. gave some of it to the cat, which died instantly. It was found that this same liquid had been administered to John Bell before his death.
John Bell's funeral was one of the largest ever held in Robertson County, Tennessee. As family and friends began leaving the graveyard, the entity laughed loudly and began singing a song about a bottle of brandy. It is said that her singing didn't stop until the very last person left the graveyard. The entity's presence was almost nonexistent after John Bell's demise, as if its purpose had been fulfilled.
The Entity is said to have promised to visit John Bell’s most direct descendant in 107 years. The year would have been 1935, and the closest living direct descendant of John Bell at that time was Nashville physician, Dr. Charles Bailey Bell. Dr. Bell himself wrote a book about the "Bell Witch," published in 1934. No follow-up was published, and Dr. Bell died in 1945.
To this day unexplainable phenomena occur at the Bell farm.
The faint sounds of people talking and children playing can sometimes be heard in the area, and it's not uncommon to see "candle lights" dance through the dark fields late at night.
There have been several theories to what really occured to the Bell family, one is that John Bell was abusing his daughter Betsy, and the legend of the witch was born of her fear and inability to express what was really happening to her. The movie "An American Haunting" is based on this theory.
"The Blair Witch Project" is also loosely based on the legend of the Bell Witch.
Others in Adams Tenessee still blame the Bell Witch for strange events and tauntings in the area.
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