Hauntings of the Bell Witch Cave

No ghost story has ever stirred the American imagination quite so well as the legend of the Bell's Witch has.
John Bell and Lucy Williams married in 1782. They settled on a farm in North Carolina and began their family, eventually having 4 sons. After a series of crop failures, they decided it was time to move. In 1805, they headed to “the Barren Plains” of Tennessee, to the area now known as Robertson County.

The Bell family quickly settled into their new home, and John became a successful farmer, a prominent member of the community, and an elder of the Red River Baptist Church. The couple added a daughter and two more sons to their family.

In 1817, things began to rapidly decline for the Bell family. John Bell spotted a strange looking creature in one of his fields and shot at it several times. He apparently missed it, though, and when he went home that evening, there were sounds of beating and thumping against the outside of the Bell home. Each night, the noises returned and increased with intensity and volume, and though John tried to catch whatever was making the noises, he was always too late.

The children began to complain of their blankets being snatched off them in the night, and whispers and chanting began to sound throughout the house. Betsy, the daughter, began to be brutalized by an unseen entity. The haunting, by then known in the community as the “Bell’s Witch,” became more and more violent, until December 19, 1820, when John Bell became fell into a coma-like state.

The next morning he died, and his family found a small bottle of fluid that they did not recognize. They gave some to one of the farm cats, which promptly died. At this point, the entity gleefully accepted responsibility for the apparent poisoning of John.

Although Bell’s Witch then departed, it promised to return in 7 years. In the meantime, where had it gone?

On the Bell property lays a cave. Little is known about the cave from the historical records of the Bell’s Witch. Perhaps the cave was used for storage, perhaps the children occasionally played in it as children so often do, or perhaps it was truly a gateway to hell. Perhaps the Bell’s Witch had simply retreated to the cool comfort of the limestone passageways and private rooms.

Visitors to the Bell Witch Cave can make their own determinations. Some have heard voices in distant, inaccessible parts of the cave. Others have felt oppressive weights that have caused them to literally collapse to the ground. Lights and globes can be seen flitting throughout the cave and surrounding skies at night.

A Native American woman’s bones were once entombed in the cave, but trespassers made away with them. Subsequent visitors have learned that taking rocks or pebbles will lead to dire consequences for them and their families.

Perhaps most disturbingly, many visitors have taken pictures and discovered that some of their guests have either not shown up in their photographs, or there have been extra figures or even creatures showing up that were not visible at the time the picture was taken.

The Bell’s Witch legend is a true story and one of the best-documented hauntings in America. The original Bell farm is still a farm, but the Bell family no longer owns it, and it is not open to the public. The Bell’s Witch Cave is located just off Keysburg Road in Adams, Tennessee. It is is open to the public for tours by appointment only and is listed on the National Historical Registry by the United States Department of the Interior.

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