Residence: Nashville, Tennessee
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2007
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin
“The legend of Bell Witch is a famous haunted house story in Tennessee. There was once a farmer named John Bell who moved to a farm land in what is now known as Adams, Tennessee. One day, John saw a strange animal in the field, so he tried to shoot it and it disappeared. After that incident, the members of the family began hearing strange noises around the house. The noises got worse and the family started hearing voices as well. Soon, they were physically affected when the spirit would actually pull their hair, slap their faces, throw things, and much more. After the presence became extremely unbearable, John decided ask around to receive help. No one was able to get rid of the spirit because it was so powerful. In the end, John got very sick and the spirit finally killed him after it poisoned him. Today, it is believed that some areas in Adams are haunted because of Bell Witch. Visitors have supposedly heard voices and sounds of laughter. Also, people have taken pictures on the property, but the developed pictures would show a man standing behind the visitor in the picture.”
This legend is popular in Tennessee, so my informant heard about it after she moved to Tennessee from Texas several years ago. Her friends and neighbors also mention the Bell Witch legend occasionally because of its popularity. Theresa learned more about the legend after the movies Bell Witch Haunting and An American Haunting were made. The movies provided her with a more thorough understanding of the story and the haunting that went on in the Bell house.
Because she has been exposed to this well-known legend as a Tennessee resident, my informant thinks about the story when the topic of haunted houses comes up. Haunted houses remind her of the legend of Bell Witch, so she shares what she knows with people who don’t know the story.
Even though she shares this legend with those unfamiliar with it, she does not believe that it is true. She does not believe in ghosts, so she does not think that the incidents that happened at the Bell house had to do with spirits and witches. Although the tale of Bell Witch contains many supernatural occurrences, she does not have any explanation as to why the Bell family was taunted by a spirit.
Since I do believe in ghosts, I think that this story is highly credible. Some of the incidents in the story do not really make sense, but I think that the Bell family could very likely have been haunted by Bell Witch. There would not be a legend like this or recent incidents if none of this were true. The fact that there are museums, researchers, and attractions dedicated to Adams, Tennessee reveals the legitimacy of the legend. Visitors have experienced supernatural confrontations that relate back to the Bell family. I do think that the property is haunted, even though I’m not quite sure I believe the entire background story.
Fitzhugh, Pat. “The Bell Witch Haunting.” The Bell Witch “Keeping the Story Real.” 16 Jan 2007. 21 April 2007 <http://www.bellwitch.org/story.htm>.