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The Bloodthirsty Bell Witch

Deep in Tenesee’s Red River region, there is a 500-foot long cave sitting pensively on a property commonly known as Bell Farm. In the early 1800s, Bell Farm was owned by the Bell Family - John and Lucy Bell, and their children. Together, the family lived and worked on the more than 300-acre farm, enjoying the lush greenery and peaceful life near Adams, Tennessee. The family were considered quiet, respectful folk, and often attended church at Red River Baptist Church where John was a deacon.

Despite having spent more than a decade living happily on the property, in the late summer of 1817, the family began experiencing strange and frightening phenomena. The Bells found themselves under attack from an invisible but clearly angry entity, now called the Bell Witch. The entity began disturbing the family by making strange and eary noises, working to keep the family up by disturbing their sleep. Over time, their experiences with the Bell Witch became more intense, steadily growing violent over the course of the next few years.

The family reported constant abuse by the entity, which was able to interact with the physical world, create noise, and shapeshift to resemble people and animals. In the evenings, the Bells would be hit with an onslaught of noise, including gnawing, knocking, and screeching sounds, coupled with ominous shuffling and the sound of chains being dragged through the house.

The sounds turned to physical abuse the next year when the Bell Witch began attacking members of the family. John and Betsy, the youngest daughter of the Bells, received the worst treatment, with the entity frequently pinching, hitting, choking, and sticking the girl with pins. Meanwhile, John became suddenly and violently ill, shaking, trembling, and choking as though there were something stuck in his throat, which would sometimes even begin to swell.

In an effort to make the torment stop, the town launched an investigation, which yielded few results. The Bell Witch supplied no answers when asked where it had come from, and only responded in the affirmative when it was suggested that the entity may have been conjured by the Bell Family’s eccentric neighbor, Kate Batts. Kate was widely thought to be a witch, but denied having anything to do with the haunting. Despite this, the entity began responding to the nickname ‘Kate’, and is still frequently referred to by that name.

During the investigation, the entity did indicate that it was working towards two important goals: 1) to stop Betsy from marrying the neighbor boy, to whom she was engaged and 2) to kill John. Why, no one could determine. Fearing that the Bell Witch might kill her if she did not take drastic action, Betsy eventually broke off the engagement. John, unfortunately, did not evade the torment of the witch, and was found dead in his bed in 1820 with a bottle of poison beside him.

Having finally accomplished her mission, the Bell Witch retreated, taking up residence in a cave on the property now called the Bell Witch Cave. Over the years, many people have encountered what they believe to be the Bell Witch within the cave, including a group of children who are thought to have been miraculously saved by the bloodthirsty witch. When one of the children became stuck in a hole in the cave, he was suddenly rescued and carried to safety by the Bell Witch. According to the children, they heard a voice assuring them that their friend would be safe, and the child that was rescued claimed to have been given a lecture by the witch who urged him not to explore so unsafely in the future before disappearing.

The legend of the Bell Witch Cave has become so engrained in Tennessee lore that the site has become one of the country’s most popular haunted sites, attracting visitors from around the world. Among the Bell Witch Cave’s most famous visitors, President Andrew Jackson is said to have been so frightened by his experience that he refused to ever return.


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