Haunted Locations:The Bell Witch Cave, TN

Welcome back to Weird Wednesday when we explore the haunted and horrifying houses of the dead,  the demons, and the dreadful.  Today’s trip takes us to Robertson County, TN, home of the Bell Witch.  The legend of the Bell Witch dates back to 1804 and has been known as one of the most famous haunted locations in America for decades. 

According to legend, the Bell Witch declared herself to be the spirit of Kate Batts, who felt like she was cheated when John Bell bought the land. When the Bell family moved in, they led a peaceful life until sometime in 1817 when bizarre occurrences began to plague the family, both inside and out, as strange animal sightings began to occur on the farm, and violent episodes befell John and his daughter Betsy; they seemed to be the main targets for the occurrences, while the rest of the family had to bear witness.

The family began to hear weird noises, including knocking sounds on the walls, chains being drug across the floor, rats chewing on the furniture, and gulping and chewing sounds. As the events escalated, John and Betsy began to experience violent physical attacks, such as hair pulling, pinching, scratching and other such incidents. 

John also began to suffer from choking sensations, throat swelling and facial tics. When John finally confided in a friend, who later spent the night and witnessed the occurrences, more people began to learn of the story and the entity grew in strength. Eventually, the spirit revealed herself to be several people, including Kate Batts, which ended up being the person that most agreed was the true person behind the haunting. She was able to tell them things from the Bible, and from a person’s past or future. She swore she would kill John Bell, and she tormented him up until he died in 1820. Her other goal seemed to be to stop Besty from marrying a neighbor named Joshua Gardner. 

After John died and Besty called off her engagement, Kate seemed to vanish for several years, stating she would return in 7 years, and she did, in fact, return for several weeks in 1828 and spent time speaking to John’s son. She was rumored to have spoken to him at great length about the past, present, and future, although she never told him why she was determined to kill his father, but did say there was a reason. After this series of talks, legend states that she said she would return in one hundred and seven years, but many believed she simply remained in the cave, haunting it, the farm, and many others in the surrounding areas. 

The cave itself was once the burial ground for an American Indian but the bones were stolen at some point. Some estimates say the cave is more than 15 miles deep but it’s never been fully proven. The cave does have some unique characteristics including the formation of flowstone that looks like lava seeping from the walls. The cave and the grounds are still open for tours and a replica cabin stands near the original location of the Bell Cabin. The original cabin had been torn down for safety reasons but the replica houses many artifacts that had been saved from the original. Mysterious occurrences are rumored to still happen on the farm, and in the surrounding area and the locals all chalk it up to the Bell Witch. 

Many books, stories, and movies have drawn inspiration from this legend and you can easily find them by searching The Bell Witch online.  If you do plan to visit for a tour, as always, Respect the Property, Respect the Residents, Respect the Owners. Tell Kate “hello” for me! 

To learn more, visit the sites listed below:

https://www.ranker.com/list/haunted-caves/lyra-radford

https://www.bellwitchcave.com/ghost_hauntings/bell_witch_legend.htm

https://www.wkrn.com/special-reports/haunted-tennessee/haunted-tennessee-which-bell-witch-legend-do-you-believe/

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