The Bell Witch

More than a century before Sissy Spacek signed up to star with a sinister spirit in "An American Haunting"...a family in northern Tennessee danced with the demon themselves.

Robertson County historian Yolanda Reid says, "Some of the stories are they actually heard her voice. She would manifest herself as strange animals. She actually attended some church meetings and would speak forth."

The "she" Yolanda Reid's talking about is the so-called "Bell Witch"...a spirit said to have TORMENTED the prosperous Bell Family in what was then Red River, Tennessee, in the early 1800's.

The hauntings began in 1817. It started with scratching and clawing and banging on the house...the hauntings became so sever the Bell Family couldn't sleep."

The Bell Witch usually appeared after sundown...and was especially cruel to John Bell and his youngest daughter Betsey.

Historians say the witch pulled hair...and tugged on clothes.

Some say she cursed and sang out loud!

Fed up, a neighbor eventually confronted her!

Bell Witch expert Timothy Henson says, "In the name of the Lord who are you and where did you come from."
"It said I am a spirit and I have been disturbed."

The witch wreaked havoc on the Bell family for years.

Her most sinister act was one of her last ones -- and likely the inspiration behind Hollywood's "An American Haunting."

Legend says the witch appeared at John Bell's death take credit for his demise.

Henson continues, "It says I poisoned Old Jack. I gave him a big dose of it..put it in his medicine.
He'll never get out of bed again."

He didn't.

Today, a state-erected historical marker detailing the witch's work stands along U-S Highway 41 in Adams, Tennessee.

Henson says, "The state generally does not want to put up some kind of marker unless there is some kind of validation."

Passersby can read about President Andrew Jackson's visit to Adams...and his encounter with the Bell Witch.