The Bell Witch

The story of the Bell Witch is a very famous story and part of the inspiration behind films such as American Haunting and The Blair Witch Project. The tale follows the life of John Bell after being cursed by the ‘Bell Witch’, Kate Batts. As the story goes Kate believed she had been cheated on a land deal of John Bell and on the time of her death she cursed him and vowed to haunt him.

Following Kate’s death the Bells started experiencing very strong poltergeist activity in their home which they believed to be Kate Batts from the grave just as she had promised. The Bell family were literally tortured, the poltergeist would pull their hair, scream in a high pitched tone, hit them, prob them with objects like sewing needles and throw things around the house.

Although Kate had promised to haunt and torture John and his family Kate focused on John and his ‘favorite’ daughter Betsy and apparently at times Kate would completely ignore other family members and is even said to have been nice to them on occasion.

As the story became more popular some started to believe that this story of the ghost of Kate Batts may have just been a stunt to get some attention from the Bell family, however the story become so well known that it caught the attention of General Andrew Jackson (before he became president) and he set out with a group of specialists to determine whether the ghost of Kate Batts was indeed real.

A caricature of John Bell beingteased by Kate Batts
A caricature of John Bell beingteased by Kate Batts
A caricature of John Bell being teased by Kate Batts

Right from the get go things started badly for Jackson and his men, starting even before they set off to the Bells residence. Upon setting off for the Bell’s residence Jackson and his team found that their wagon would not move, it was literally stuck to the ground. No matter what they did from pushing the wagon, spurring the horses – nothing worked. It wasn’t until Jackson called out the ‘witch’ Kate Batts that the wagon started moving at which point a high pitched cackle was heard and ‘I’ll see you tonight general’.

Kate meant what she said. Not long after Jackson and his men arrived at the Bell’s residence they were subjected to the same torture the Bell family had been going through and promptly left believing the ghost of Kate was a certainty.

The hauntings continued throughout the years just as Kate had promised and finally in October of 1830 Kate finally claimed what she had set out to take, Johns life. First it was thought John suffered a stroke and was left bed ridden. Later on his family found him in particularly bad health and his son rushed to get medicine for John and after administering the medicine the sound of Kates laughter began to ring through the house as she announced there had been no stroke – she had poisoned Johns medicine and this last dose would undoubtedly finish him off. And it surely did.

The family claimed that the sound of Kate singing could be heard on the breeze at Johns funeral. After his death the other members of his family, including his daughter Betsy were finally free of the curse, the haunting ceased and Kate was never heard from again.


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