ADAMS, TN "I would rather fight the entire British army single handed than face the Bell Witch again!" - something Andrew Jackson, seventh President Of The United State may or may not have ever said. HISTORY                        One   of   the   strangest   "ghost   stories"   ever   written   was   not   based   in   fiction,   but   on   real   events   and   deals with   the   legend   of   the   Bell   Witch.   Over   a   four-year   period   beginning   in   1817,   a   Tennessee   family   endured   a series   of   shocking   events   that   surpassed   even   the   most   imaginative   creations   of   modern   horror.   This   then,   is the story of the Bell Witch.                       A   barrel-maker   named   John   Bell   moved   his   wife   Lucy   and   their   six   children   from   their   previous   home   in North   Carolina   to   Robertson   County,   Tennessee   in   1804.   John   intended   to   farm   the   1,000   acres   he   had purchased   and   set   about   building   a   rather   good-sized   log   cabin   on   the   site   complete   with   smaller,   functional structures   and   slave   quarters.   They   soon   immersed   themselves   into   the   community   and   John   eventually became   a   deacon   at   the   local   Red   River   Baptist   Church.   They   were   a   God-fearing   clan   who   worked   the   land and   experienced   a   period   of   fine   prosperity.   John   and   Lucy   Bell's   family   eventually   grew   to   nine   children   and their   lives   seemed   to   be   a   model   for   the   times.   In   short,   they   were   close-knit,   industrious   and   unassuming people. This was about to change dramatically and for all times.       Bell Farm - present day                        Depending   on   the   version   of   the   story   presented,   John   Bell   had   a   falling   out   with   a   woman   named   Kate Batts   over   either   a   land   purchase   or   slave   dealings.   (The   original   dispute   might   actually   have   been   with   a distant   relative,   Benjamin   Batts.)   In   either   event   Kate   proclaimed   her   displeasure   with   Bell   to   many   in   the community.   In   time,   the   church   would   support   Bell's   position   -   unlike   the Tennessee   courts   who   would   find   him guilty.   That    decision    would    turn    popular    opinion    against    Bell,    and    the    church    -    not    wishing    to    appear sympathetic    with    a    convicted    criminal    -    reversed    their    position    and    subsequently    took    steps    to excommunicate   Bell   from   the   church   on   January   13,   1818   (text   below).   When   it   became   apparent   that   no actual   restitution   would   be   forthcoming,   the   incensed   woman   swore   she   would   eventually   exact   her   revenge on Bell for cheating her.                  "On   motion   the   case   of   Bro.   Bell   was   taken   up   (which   is   as   follows)   whereas,   the   jury   of   the   Circuit   Court for   Robertson   County   found   Bro.   Bell   guilty   of   violating   the   law   of   usury,   as   such   we   think   the   cause   of   Christ and   Religion   in   the   hands   of   Bro.   Bell,   and   agreed   at   our   November   meeting   to   reconsider   the   business   which was   investigated   and   postponed   from   time   to   time   until   now.   Now,   although   we   cannot   clearly   see   that   Bro. Bell   was   guilty   of   taking   usury,   yet   for   the   veneration,   we   have   for   the   courts   and   have   for   our   country,   we publicly   reprobate   the   idea   of   any   of   our   members   violating   the   statute   laws   of   our   country.   As   such   we reprove    Bro.    Bell    for    giving    cause    of    offence.    Bro.    Sugg    Fort    then    preferred    two    charges    with    their specifications,   that   is   to   say,   covetousness   and   treating   the   church   with   contempt   on   Sunday   of   our   last meeting.                "Specification   to   the   first   charge.   That   Bro.   Bell   coveted   and   because   he   had   it   in   his   power,   took   $20   or thereabouts more than he let Batts have as stated by Bro. Bell in July 1816.                "Charge   second.   Specification.   First,   in   saying   we   received   a   member   yesterday   (i.e.)   our   last   meeting, who   did   not   walk   according   to   the   Apostolic   Order.   Second,   in   saying   hard   contemptuous   words   against   the church. Third, in attempting to withdraw his fellowship from us.                "Bro.   Bell   was   found   guilty   of   the   first   charge,   but   gave   satisfaction   for   the   second   charge   and   the specification.                "The   question   was   taken   whether   Bell's   acknowledgement   were   satisfactory   for   the   first   charge?   Answer. No. Whereupon, the vote was taken and he, the said John Bell, was excommunicated from our fellowship."                        In   1817,   John   Bell   was   in   his   corn   field   when   he   witnessed   what   looked   like   a   creature   with   the   body   of   a dog   and   the   head   of   a   rabbit   growling   at   him.   Firing   a   weapon   he   had   on   him   at   that   time,   the   dog   ran   off     apparently   unscathed.   saw   an   unusual-looking   bird   which   he   claimed   looked   almost   human   in   appearance. On   another   occasion,   his   son   Drew   witnessed   what   he   described   as   an   extraordinarily   large   bird   on   the property.   Rushing   inside   to   grab   a   shotgun,   he   fired   at   the   bird   but   was   unsure   if   the   bullet   found   its   mark   or not,   because   the   creature   could   not   be   found   again.   Within   a   matter   of   days   of   these   incidents,   the   Bell children began to report seeing strange beings in the woods nearby.                            Two   of   Bell's   children   -   Drew   and   Betsy   -   once   saw an   old   woman   walking   through   the   family's   orchard,   but when    they    approached    her    to    speak    with    her,    she seemed   to   vanish   before   their   eyes. Yet   another   time,   the children   saw   what   they   thought   was   a   young   girl   hanging from   a   tree.   Upon   approaching   her,   the   girl   seemed   to dissipate   into   thin   air.   More   unsettling   experiences   came in   the   form   of   the   house   shaking   on   its   foundations   and sounds    emanating    from    outside    their    home.    On    first impression,    the    scratching    and    banging    appeared    to resemble   someone   or   something   trying   to   get   inside   the house.                        It   was   not   long,   though   before   the   rapping   and scraping   sounds   were   heard   moving   from   room   to   room inside   their   home,   waking   them   from   their   sleep   only   to cease     when     the     family     went     to     investigate.     One particularly   disturbing   sound   was   that   of   wings   flapping against   the   ceiling.   Even   more   disconcerting   was   the   sound   of   sinister   laughter   and   whispers   seemingly coming   from   the   atmosphere   itself   inside   the   home.   Some   of   the   whispers   appeared   to   be   in   the   form   of   an old   woman   singing   hymns.   Soon   thereafter,   growls   and   guttural   noises   began   to   manifest   and   fill   the   home. during the night.                        One   year   later   John   Bell   (l.)   contracted   a   mysterious   illness   which   affected   his jaw   and   tongue.   Simply   eating   became   an   exercise   in   futility   as   did   the   treatments prescribed   to   him   by   the   family   physician.   Soon   thereafter,   other   members   of   the family   felt   like   they   were   being   scratched   or   hit,   or   having   their   hair   pulled.     Youngest daughter   Betsy   seemed   to   be   singled   out   as   the   most   frequent   recipient   of   these assaults.   On   occasion,   she   would   feel   her   face   being   slapped   or   her   body   being stuck   with   pins.   Bruises   on   the   young   girl   would   appear   after   such   an   attack.   When she   would   entertain   a   suitor   named   Joshua   Gardner,   the   attacks   would   step   up   in intensity   after   he   left   for   the   evening.   It   was   then   that   Bell,   who   had   until   now   told   no one   outside   the   family   of   these   events,   called   upon   a   close   friend   named   James Johnston   for   help.   Johnson,   a   deeply   religious   man,   appeared   fearless   in   the   face   of what increasingly appeared to be some form of angry spirit.                        Deciding   to   stay   the   night   in   an   effort   to   dispel   the   force   from   the   house, Johnston   read   a   passage   from   the   Bible,   prayed   with   the   family   and   addressed   the   entity   before   finally settling   into   bed.   At   first   it   appeared   his   challenge   silenced   the   being,   but   soon   the   noises   began   again,   this time   even   worse   than   before.   Johnson   continuously   had   the   covers   pulled   from   his   bed   and   then   was   slapped repeatedly.   Bolting   from   his   bed,   he   again   addressed   whatever   or   whomever   was   in   the   house,   but   received no   response   except   for   menacing   laughter.   Worse,   young   Betsy   again   bore   the   brunt   of   the   violence,   being slapped repeatedly                        It   was   not   long   before   the   entire   community   heard   of   the   Bell's   situation   and   one   organized   group responded   not   by   offering   scorn   and   skepticism,   but   support   to   a   man   they   looked   upon   with   respect.   This assemblage   of   men   would   come   by   quite   often   to   investigate   the   situation   and   offer   advice   and   potential solutions    to    them.    Many    would    end    up    running    from    the    property    in    fear    as    the    entity    would,    without reservation,   make   its   presence   known   to   them   with   the   same   fury   and   disdain   it   demonstrated   to   the   family.     By   this   time,   the   voice   began   to   speak   in   intelligible   terms,   identifying   herself   as   the   spirit   of   a   woman   whose grave in the nearby woods had been disturbed.                        As   word   spread   of   the   events   taking   place   on   the   Bell   property,   people   continued   to   travel   from   miles around   in   a   an   effort   to   suggest   various   recourses   of   action   or   to   try   their   hand   at   removing   the   spirit.   When some   came   that   were   convinced   of   a   hoax   being   perpetrated   by   John   Bell,   they   would   inevitably   leave   with   a clear picture that indeed something was genuinely afoul in the home.                        When   a   visiting   Reverend   inquired   as   to   the   identity   of   the   spirit,   a   now   more audacious   voice   replied   that   she   was   the   witch   of   Kate   Batts,   the   woman   who   held John    Bell    in    such    contempt    for    their    previous    business    dealing.    It    was    now assumed   that   she   was   exacting   the   revenge   she   so   intensely   had   promised   before her   death.   The   entity   tormenting   the   family   would   simply   come   to   be   called   "the witch"    or    "Kate"    by    the    majority    of    the    surrounding    community.    In    fact    the townspeople   would   learn   more   of   her   as   time   went   on.   They   would   report   hearing her   in   their   own   homes   and   churches   and   that   she   would   reveal   people's   innermost thoughts   at   very   inopportune   times. The   only   fly   in   this   ointment   was   that   Kate   Batts was   very   much   alive   during   the   time   of   this   "haunting".   This   apparently   would   not deter   a   false   legend   being   created   that   would   endure   to   the   present   day.   In   fact, Mrs.   Batts   reacted   quite   strongly   to   the   accusations   which   only   inflamed   her   hatred for John Bell, who she assumed was trying to slander her at this point in time.                        (There   is   an   alternative   story   that   Kate   Batts   and   John   Bell   were   actually   an "item"   some   years   earlier   and   she   would   not   forgive   him   for   jilting   her,   but   this seems   to   fly   in   the   face   of   his   moving   here   from   North   Carolina   with   a   family already   in   tow.   How   did   he   and   Kate   know   each   other   before   he   married   Lucy?   Was   it   in   fact   an   affair   while he   was   married?   The   details   are   sketchy   and   prone   to   rampant   speculation,   so   no   conclusion   should   be reached   regarding   this   version.   The   only   real   drawback   to   the   "Kate"   theory   is   that   it   cannot   be   fully   accepted this   entity   was   in   fact   the   ghost   or   witch   of   Kate   Batts   at   all.   Based   on   her   history   with   John   Bell,   it   is   merely assumed this spirit represented her.)                        A   man   named   Frank   Miles   also   bore   the   brunt   of   the   witch's   fury   when   he   spent   the   night   at   the farmhouse.   Miles,   a   bear   of   a   man,   told   his   friends   he   would   stay   and   confront   the   witch   and   crush   her   with his   bare   hands.   Asleep   in   his   bed   that   night,   he   would   have   his   covers   yanked   like   Johnson   had,   but   would also   be   brutally   attacked   by   the   spirit   by   being   thrashed   about   the   head   and   told   not   to   confront   her   as   he   had no chance at success.                       As   the   tale   of   the   Bell   family's   woes   spread   and   many   came   by   the   satisfy their   curiosity   or   offer   remedies   to   their   troubles,   a   surprising   request   came from   General   Andrew   Jackson   (r.),   who   would   go   on   to   become   President   of the   United   States.   Being   an   acquaintance   of   John   Bell,   Jr.,   who   served   under him   at   The   Battle   of   New   Orleans,   Jackson   wanted   to   try   his   hand   at   ridding the   home   of   its   resident   evil.   On   the   way   to   the   house,   their   first   indication   this would   not   be   an   easy   task   came   when   -   after   an   off-color   comment   about   the "witch"    was    made    by    someone    in    his    party    -    the    wheels    of    their    wagon mysteriously   seized   up   and   would   not   turn   no   matter   how   hard   their   horses pulled.   Legend   holds   it   that   the   "witch"   would   actually   address   Jackson   and his   men   at   that   point,   taunting   them   about   their   travails   and   warning   them about their impending visit that night.                        Jackson's   entourage   -   which   also   included   someone   referred   to   as   a "witch   tamer"   -      spent   that   night   at   the   Bell   house,   but   their   visit   was   plagued   first   by   an   attack   on   that   very man,   who   felt   pins   and   needles   were   being   stuck   into   his   body   and   later   the   usual   removal   of   bed   covers. More   horrifying   was   having   to   witness   young   Betsy   scream   in   fear   and   agony   as   her   hair   was   pulled   and   her face   repeatedly   slapped.   Informed   by   the   voice   that   another   "fraud"   would   be   exposed   the   following   night, Jackson   announced   they   would   spend   the   night   in   order   to   see   whom   she   was   referring   to.   They   never   made it   that   far.   Convinced   by   his   men   to   leave   for   New   Orleans   the   following   morning,   Jackson   was   said   to   utter his   now   famous   quote,   "I   would   rather   fight   the   entire   British   Army   single-handed   than   face   the   Bell   Witch again."                      Curiously,   while   John   and   Betsy   Bell   along   with   some   of   their   slaves   suffered   the   worse   at   the   witch's hands,   other   members   of   the   family   were   treated   kindly   by   the   spirit.   There   were   even   some   instances   when Betsy   herself   would   be   treated   almost   lovingly   at   times,   only   to   endure   swift   and   severe   changes   in   the temperament   of   her   tormentor,   especially   after   Joshua   Gardner's   visitations.   Lucy   Bell   was   sung   to   and   even helped   out   around   the   house   by   the   witch   and   the   children   would   sometimes   be   serenaded   with   church hymns as would some visitors to the home.                            By   now   Betsy   had   fallen   in   love   with   Joshua   and   they   announced   their   plans   to   marry.   They   both   hoped that   Betsy's   antagonist   would   soften   her   stance   after   her   father's   death   and   allow   the   union   to   happen.   It proved   to   matter   not   as   the   witch   warned   Betsy   in   a   quite   stern   and   audible   voice   that   she   would   increase   the physical   and   emotional   torture   she   had   been   dealing   out   to   her   if   she   went   through   with   the   marriage.   Betsy, by   now   growing   weary   of   the   constant   torment   she   had   been   put   through,   called   off   the   engagement   on Easter   Monday   of   1820.   This   seemed   to   appease   the   witch,   who   offered   no   such   ultimatum   when   Betsy would   eventually   go   on   to   marry   a   teacher   named   Richard   Powell,   who   should   be   referred   to   as   a   "person   of interest".                        (Powell   is   indeed   a   person   of   some   interest   here.   There   is   also   speculation   that   he   in   fact   masterminded the   whole   Bell   Witch   episode.   The   son   of   a   father   who   built   many   homes   in   the   area,   including   the   Bell's,   he was   aware   of   many   tunnels   that   ran   beneath   them   and   would   travel   them   as   a   youth,   gathering   information about   each   family.   As   Betsy's   teacher,   he   fell   in   love   with   her   (despite   his   being   married   to   a   woman   named Esther   Scott)   and   was   determined   to   marry   her.   Some   say   he   was   the   cause   of   the   voices   and   the   eventual death   of   John   Bell   (read   below)   How   that   factors   in   to   the   physical   attacks   or   the   bed   covers   being   pulled   that were   witnessed   by   so   many   - Andrew   Jackson   included   -   has   yet   to   be   explained,   but   Powell   was   a   staple   of many   social   affairs   held   in   the   Bell   home   prior   to   the   hauntings   and   despite   being   11   years   her   senior, harbored   a   deep   affection   for   Betsy.   There   has   also   been   some   speculation   -   unproven   -   that   he   was   a student of the occult arts).                        By   the   Fall   of   1820   John   Bell   was   afflicted   yet   again   by   the   same   illness   that   had   previously   affected   his mouth   and   jaw.   Any   effort   to   walk   the   land   of   his   beloved   farm   was   met   with   resistance   by   the   witch.   His shoes   would   be   removed   from   his   feet   and   he   would   be   knocked   to   the   ground   repeatedly.   The   beatings became   so   bad   that   John   eventually   required   a   doctor   to   treat   his   injuries.     The   doctor   issued   John   a   bottle   of medicine   which   he   took   faithfully,   but   the   disease   became   more   volatile   and   his   condition   worsened   until   he finally   succumbed   to   its   ravages   on   December   20,   1820.   Upon   examination,   the   doctor   found   that   the prescribed   medicine   had   in   fact   been   replaced   with   an   unknown   substance.   John   Jr.   in   a   macabre   test   of sorts,   gave   a   drop   to   the   family   cat   which   immediately   died   after   tasting   the   substance.   The   witch's   laughter was   heard   once   again   and   then   a   claim   that   she   had   replaced   the   tonic   with   another   substance   and   that   she hoped   Bell   would   now   burn   in   hell.   The   witch   later   attended   John's   funeral   and   would   be   heard   singing   and laughing around his gravesite (below,                            The   Bell   Witch   would   let   the   family   know   that   her   work   was   done,   but   she   would   return   in   seven   years   - 1828.   Legend   says   that   this   in   fact   happened   in   February   of   that   year   as   the   knocks   and   rappings   returned once   more.   By   now   the   family   had   tired   of   this   activity   and   chosen   to   feign   indifference   to   these   phenomena. The   ploy   seemed   to   work   as   the   witch   apparently   left   the   premise,   but   not   John   Bell   Jr.      She   detailed   to   him future   events   like   the   Civil   War,   World   Wars   I   &   II      and   the   Great   Depression   as   well   as   how   the   world   will end.   The   result   of   some   of   the   the   information   passed   on   to   him   was   said   to   have   aided   him   on   his   way   to become   independently   wealthy   later   in   life.   She   pledged   to   return   again   in   1935,   but   no   record   of   her presence or the result of it was ever found.                        Lucy   Bell   would   live   out   the   rest   of   her   days   in   the   house   her   husband   built,   but   soon   afterwards   it   was abandoned and torn down leaving little sign of its existence.   THE BELL WITCH CAVE HAUNTINGS                          There   have   been   innumerable   theories   as   to   what   happened   to   the   Bell   family,   ranging   from   the   pure residual   rage   of   Kate   Batts   manifesting   itself   into   a   tangible   entity   to   perhaps   daughter   Betsy,   through   what we   now   call   Psychokinesis,   creating   a   poltergeist-type   haunt   (a   theory   espoused   in   the   2005   movie   based   on the   legend   -   "An   American   Haunting").   Was   there   actually   more   than   one   Bell   Witch   and   would   that   explain the   alternating   acts   of   evil   and   kindness?   In   any   event,   the   legend   of   the   Bell   Witch   continues   and   -   some   will say - thrives even today in Adams, Tennessee.                        So   whither   the   Bell   Witch   Cave   -   and   how   does   it   play   into   this   legendary   tale   of   revenge   from   the afterlife?   There   are   a   couple   of   schools   of   thought   on   this.   Could   it   have   been   a   portal   of   sorts   for   spirits   to enter   into   this   world?   Or   was   it   a   place   that   is   inhabited   by   the   witch   until   she   is   ready   to   return   again?   In either   scenario,   there   have   been   a   great   many   strange   and   bizarre   incidents   around   and   about   the   cave   that have fueled the speculation.                        Its   interesting   to   note   that   the   cave   is   carved   into   limestone   and   has   water   running   through   it   depending on   the   season.   So   much   in   fact   that   the   roar   of   rushing   water   coming   out   of   the   cave   and   spilling   into   the nearby   Red   River   is   deafening.   The   combination   of   limestone   and   water   is   known   to   spur   a   kind   of   natural magnetic   disruption   that   might   explain   the   strange   sensations   that   some   feel   inside.   There   is   approximately 500   feet   of   cave   that   can   be   explored   publicly   but   its   true   length   remains   unknown   because   of   the   narrow passages that are inaccessible.                       Also   of   note   is   a   Native American   burial   ground   located   on   a   bluff above   the   cave   entrance   and   the   presence   of   an   ancient   coffin   (r.) inside   the   cave   that   was   placed   there   by   local   Indians   to   prepare   their dead for ascent into the afterlife.                        The   legend   may   begin   with   the   Bell   children,   who   found   the   cave and   used   to   visit   it   frequently   to   explore   and   play.   One   of   the   Bell   boys was   said   to   have   tripped   and   got   his   feet   wedged   between   some   rocks inside.   It   was   then   that   an   invisible   pair   of   hands   grabbed   his   feet   and pulled him backward to the entrance of the cave.                        Today,   many   visitors   the   the   cave   experience   a   feeling   of   being watched   as   they   enter.   Many   hear   the   sound   of   children   laughing inside    an    otherwise    empty    cave    and    voices    coming    from    those aforementioned   areas   that   no   one   can   reach.   Most   of   the   reports today   center   around   photographs   taken   in   and   around   the   cave.   To wit:                        1.     A   young   girl   was   sitting   on   a   rock   outside   the   cave   posing   for   a photograph.   Upon   development,   the   picture   showed   a   man   standing behind her who was not present at the time the photo was taken.                               2.    Pictures    of    shadows    taken    inside    the    cave    that    defy explanation.                        Visitors   to   the   cave   have   been   pushed   by   an   unseen   force,   a event   witnessed   by   others   on   the   same   tour.   In   one   case   an   examination   of   a   girl   who   felt   she   was   slapped across   the   face   and   knocked   down   revealed   a   red   welt   on   her   face   that   mysteriously   had   appeared   after   the incident.                        There   also   have   been   tales   of   mysterious   mists   and   fog   that   appear   in   various   parts   of   the   cave   and dissipate   when   approached.   Camera   and   flashlight   batteries   have   also   been   known   to   drain   quickly   and   with no   explanation,   even   though   the   batteries   are   right   out   of   their   packages.   Strange   glowing   lights   have   been seen   bouncing   about   the   cave   and   in   the   nearby   field   that   surrounds   it   during   nighttime   visits.   In   a   more disturbing   vein,   some   have   reported   seeing   the   apparition   of   a   woman   floating   above   the   ground   inside   the cave.                       A   recurring   story   deals   with   objects   that   have   been   removed   from   the   cave   and   the   misfortune   that   befalls those   who   possess   them.   So   intense   are   these   incidents   that   many   visitors   to   the   cave   have   mailed   the objects   back   to   the   present   owners   -   Chris   and   Walter   Kirby   -   in   the   hope   that   returning   them   to   their   rightful place   will   end   their   misery.   The   Kirbys   themselves   have   witnessed   more   that   their   fair   share   of   odd   events from voices and growls inside the tunnels to the same manifestations inside their own home.                        One   interesting   story   involves   a   group   of   soldiers   stationed   at   Fort   Campell,   Ky.   that   came   for   a   tour   one day   in   1977.   At   the   end   of   the   tour   they   all   sat   on   the   floor   in   the   last   cave   chamber   and   listened   to   various tales that surrounded the cave The storyteller/tour guide was none other than former owner Bill Eden.                        During   their   discussion,   one   young   soldier   expressed   doubts   that   such   things   even   existed   and   declared himself skeptical of the legend.  Mr. Eden glanced a knowing eye and went on with his talk.                        When   he   had   finished,   all   got   up   to   leave   and   begin   their   way   back   to   the   cave   entrance   -   except   for   one soldier. The   one   that   expressed   his   doubt   found   that   he   could   not   get   up   off   the   ground   and   called   to   Eden   for assistance.   Thinking   he   was   joking   around,   Eden   and   the   others   in   the   group   at   first   dismissed   the   soldiers cry, but a closer look at his face revealed a look of true panic.                        Efforts   to   help   the   soldier   to   his   feet   failed   and   the   young   man   appeared   to   now   be   in   great   physical distress.   Now   terrified,   he   told   everyone   that   he   was   feeling   two   arms   wrapped   around   his   chest   squeezing the   breath   out   of   him.   Eventually,   they   were   able   to   get   the   soldier   to   his   feet   and   walk   him   out   of   the   cave with no little assistance.                        The   young   soldier   soon   recovered   fully   from   his   experience   and   as   he   left,   shook   the   hand   of   his   tour guide, thanked him and politely told him he would not be returning ever again. The death of John Bell