The Strange True Story of the Bell Witch of Tennessee, Part 1 of 5
By Don Wick © 1987
Issue: February, 1987
The Bell Witch House 1909. Photo curtesy of www.bellwitchcave.com.Adams, Tennessee - Of all the strange stories of the supernatural, there is none stranger than the 170 year old story of the Bell Witch of Tennessee, the most documented story of the supernatural in all of American history.
The Bell Witch is unique because of the large number of people who had direct experiences with it. Many of these people, General Andrew Jackson among them, were of unimpeachable reputation and unquestionable reliability.
Much of what follows is taken from the eyewitness accounts and interviews gathered by M.V. Ingram for his book An Authenticated History Of The Famous Bell Witch Of Tennessee published at Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1894. Among them are the eyewitness accounts of Richard Williams Bell and Joel Bell, two who survived the Witch's reign of terror.
Here, then, is the incredible true story of the Bell Witch, a story to which the final chapter has yet to be added.
John Bell, Jr., Born Nov. 17th 1793 - Died April 18th 1862. Photo curtesy of www.bellwitchcave.com.It began in 1804 when John Bell brought his family from North Carolina to settle in Robertson County, Tennessee.
He bought a good 100 acre farm on the banks of the Red River about 50 miles north of Nashville, near what is today the town of Adams, Tennessee.
By 1817 John Bell had become a respected and influential member of the community. He and his wife Lucy, had nine children and the Bell home was one of the finest in Robertson County. It was a big double log house, one and a half stories high with six rooms and a large porch across the entire front of the house.
The trouble began sometime in 1817. The exact time is difficult to fix because at first the Bell family attributed the strange noises they heard in the house to natural causes.
There were bumping and scratching sounds which might have been caused by the wind blowing the branches of the big pear trees in the front yard against the side of the house. The tapping sounds at the front door, John Bell attributed to a prankster.
But in May of 1818, something happened which could not be explained quite so easily.