The events reported to have occurred at Adams Station between 1817 and 1820 are far more dramatic than any comparable haunting. An entity identified as Kate is said to have freely spoke with numerous people and to have killed John Bell. US President Andrew Jackson is also reported to have challenged Kate and to have retreated out of fear.
As scary as this story claims to be, people living outside of Middle Tennessee or not being members of an occult organization are not likely to have heard of it. It endured primarily through local community stage plays, campfire stories, the annual Halloween trip by a Nashville TV crew, and local entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on its commercial value. The Bell Witch, as the phenomenon was known, remained relatively obscure until the spectacular success of the recent campy movie The Blair Witch Project
provided it with a level of notoriety. But, unlike this fictitious drama, the events of Adams Station are claimed as factual.
For those interested in the paranormal, either promoting it or debunking it, the Legend of the Bell Witch is ideal. Supposedly witnessed by dozens of people, including a president, and having achieved the ultimate in manifestation, the death of a victim, its significance makes research of the phenomenon unquestionable. But, we find no scholarly analysis, no mention of it in any of the prominent skeptical or quality historical journals, only an enormous amount of noise on the Internet.
Adam's road sign erected by State of Tennessee
Our interest was in validating the phenomenon, if that was possible. Our search for REAL facts and indepen-dent corroboration has been a failure, which was a major surprise because so many internet "experts" told us of extensive documentation. For all the excitement, which the numerous authors wanting to sell Bell Witch books claimed, we found that no disinterested "third party" wrote anything down, including those who had the capability, such as Richard Powell, the school teacher of the Bell children; Andrew Jackson; and the Nashville newspapers. This whole story seemed based primarily on the documentation of Richard William Bell who was said,at six years of age, to have observed personally the haunting but, had not attempted to record those childhood memories until his mid-thirties
MIDDLE TENNESSEE SKEPTICS
Giving Common Sense a Chance
Our opinion (based on REAL facts) is that no scientific or independent third-party evidence for the Bell Witch exists. All accounts to the contrary are based on hysterical, anecdotal, or self-serving claims. The first documentation of this event was three generations after the claimed occurrence and by a newpaper man who had a reputation for concocting tall tales and based on so-called "real" events. We know John Bell and his family were real, but that is the extent to which the legend of the Bell Witch has any validity.
Originally, the purpose of this Web Site was to log our search for positive proof of this event. We have failed. So if you have verifable evidence, let us know.
WHAT'S NEW - WHERE TO FROM HERE?
In preparation for Halloween 2009 we have reworked our analysis of the Bell Witch Legend, adding summary headers and navigation to aid the reader in following our argument. Our conclusions remain the same. Start with a visit to Adams Tennessee and the Bell Witch Cave.
Click on the black button near the bottom of each to advance.
If you haven't read enough about the Bell Witch Legend when reaching the FINAL Chapter, return to this page. In our Bell Witch Today we have some research trivia. In American Haunting - The Movie we offer our com-ments on a horrible (qualitywise) movie. Some where in the future we have considered writing a story about the Bell Witch Legend based on real historical events at that time, but the story itself would be fiction since no one has the facts. We have included a draft chapter as Betsy's Witch. We have also included our research into early pioneer history of Tennessee in order to understand what it would have been like for the Bell family to have moved from North Carolina and settle in the Upper Cumberland region around 1800. It is strictly a draft to which we add as we find the time. A collegue Jack Cook has documented his research into the Bell Witch. He has graciously let us re-print it here as The Spirit of Red River. We have been asked to purchase the publishing rights to other books on the Bell Witch Legend, unfortunately, as much as we would love to get those books into print, we are not in the busi-ness to commercialize on the Bell Witch Legend in any manner. Some of you may have landed on this site by following a link from Wikipedia. We appreciate its inclusion, at least as a reference. In the past we have had a greater presence and are disappointed that its editors chose to join the crowd promulgating the fiction rahter than the facts. Lastly, we continue to look for evidence related to the Bell Witch Legend, although we no longer search for it. We appreciate any insight you may have and you can forward it to us in an email to MTSkeptics@juno.com