Kate Batts lived near Adams, Tennessee along the Red River, where she and her husband - Frederick Batts - kept a small farm where they raised their five children. Frederick had been paralyzed in an accident, which left Kate to be the primary breadwinner and laborer on the farm. Relying entirely on Kate, the family never had much money and were one of the poorer families in the region. A rough, tough, and eccentric woman, Kate managed to both work the farm, and make herself an established local character with her strange and often exaggerated behavior.
Seemingly hungry for attention, Kate tended to make a scene everywhere she went, confronting, arguing with, and loudly addressing friends and strangers alike to become the main attraction at every moment. Beyond pure eccentricity, many residents of the Red River area believed that Kate could be a witch, a theory which was only strengthened by Kate’s habit of begging every woman she met for a pin, so adamant in her requests that they often gave in. At the time, superstition was not uncommon, and many believed that giving a witch a pin could give her magical control over you.
Kate and Frederick were neighbors to the Bell Family, then owners of the infamous Bell Farm and Bell Witch Cave. Kate and the Bell Family patriarch, John Bell, were known to occasionally argue, and had once become violent during a row. According to legend, the Bell Family was tormented by a supernatural entity of some kind, which was later named the Bell Witch.
When John Bell died in 1820, the family blamed the Bell Witch, saying that it had been trying to kill the family patriarch for years. The entity, at some point, received the nickname ‘Kate’, with some residents of the area attributing the haunting to the suspected witch, Kate Batts. Despite avidly denying any involvement in either witchcraft, the haunting at Bell Farm, or the death of John Bell, the entity known as the Bell Witch seemed happy to accept the nickname ‘Kate’ and began responding when called by the name.
Kate Batts would outlive John by 22 years, passing away in 1842. The Bell Witch, still commonly referred to as ‘Kate’, is said to remain on the Bell property today, haunting a cave on the northern side of the property.