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Halloween Countdown, Day 24

Today let's consider a legend that's been the subject of numerous books and films: The Bell Witch. Folklore has it that this ghost story -- reputedly "the most documented haunting in American history" -- is unique in at least two ways: the haunting led to an actual death, and the haunting was witnessed by a man who would become a president of the United States (Andrew Jackson).

Bell Witch Of Adams Tennessee   Tennessee State Marker of Bell Witch


A fascinating book about this Tennessee legend is The Authenticated History of the Bell Witch And Other Stories of the World’s Greatest Unexplained Phenomenon by M.V. Ingram (1894). The introduction sets a spooky tone and is chilling on its own, I think:

The writer is aware of the fact that the average person of to-day eschews the belief in the existence of witches, ghosts, and apparitions, as a relic of past superstitions, and as a subject for ridicule; nevertheless, specters stalk the earth to-day just as they did hundreds of years ago, the only difference being that we now place a different interpretation upon them, calling them spirits, fantasies, psychic manifestations, etc., instead of ghosts and witches, and people who laugh at the superstition of our fathers only need be put to the test to prove this fact. However, this is not the place for moralizing, nor will the writer find any occasion for drawing on his imagination for a vivid description of goblins and devils incarnate, or for painting the revelry of unknown demons on a mission of torment, to make the hair stand on one’s head, or cause the unregenerated to shun neglected grave yards. This part of the story is told by others who mingled with the familiar spirits, held conversation with the invisible, took part in their worship, participated in the ghost dances and midnight revelries, held councils with the spooks, witnessed the jack-a-lantern performances, saw unshapely sights and horrifying transformations, and felt the warm blood curdle in their veins.

The complete book is now online here.

bell witch house


For more information on the Bell Witch phenomenon, check out these sites:

* The Bell Witch at Wikipedia
* The Bell Witch
* See pictures from the Bell Witch Cave.
* Ghosts of the Prairie: The Bell Witch
* dannyboy8406 has a great post on the Bell Witch here.
* For a more skeptical/objective analysis of the truth behind the legend and the book quoted above, check out this transcript of the Skeptoid podcast episode #118: "Demystifying the Bell Witch."
* Check out the Bell Witch Fall Festival (a must for anyone in Middle Tennessee). (Thanks to tlg2009!)

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
tlg2009
Oct. 24th, 2013 01:20 pm (UTC)
"Spirit"
For anyone living in the Middle Tennessee area, check out the Bell Witch Fall Festival!

http://www.bellwitchfallfestival.com/index.php/tickets/events-listing/2012-08-09-00-07-03
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 24th, 2013 01:26 pm (UTC)
Re: "Spirit"
Oh, this is fantastic! Thank you. I've added it above with credit to you. I'd love to attend this someday.
morfin
Oct. 24th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
And let's forget that horrible movie "An American Haunting" that was supposedly based on the Bell Witch. It was just a 2 hour grind of the same thing happening over and over so that you become bored with it. They left out all the interesting parts of the story, including Andy Jackson turning tail and running! I mean, what happened that would make someone like Jackson run away?
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 24th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
Augh, you're so right. The filmmakers assembled a great cast, too. Why not give them something to sink their teeth into? As you say, they left out all of the interesting parts. So many lost opportunities there. Very frustrating.
sittingduck1313
Oct. 24th, 2013 02:30 pm (UTC)
Not actually related to the above post, but I figured this may be of interest. If you happen to be in the Richmond, Virginia area this Sunday afternoon, the Poe Museum will be holding a Halloween event.

http://www.poemuseum.org/event/2013/10/27
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 24th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, doesn't that sound like fun?!?!? Next year, maybe (I hope). I'm actually headed in the opposite direction on the map at the moment. Thanks for the link, regardless!
Abbie Culbertson
Oct. 25th, 2013 04:22 am (UTC)
*skips on over to Skeptoid*
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 25th, 2013 10:50 am (UTC)
Skeptoid is rather awesome.
gilda_elise
Oct. 25th, 2013 10:34 am (UTC)
I don't know about whether the legend is true or not, but that one spooky looking house!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 25th, 2013 10:51 am (UTC)
Isn't it? Technically it's not the Bell house - it's behind the chapel that figures in the legend - but I think it has a serious creepiness factor all its own. I wouldn't want to see anyone looking back at me from one of those windows. ;)
febobe
Oct. 29th, 2013 01:01 pm (UTC)
This is great. I pass Adams every time I go to Nashville - thanks!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 30th, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! :D So glad you liked it.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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