The Bell’s Witch

historic marker

In Adams, Tennessee you will find the historic marker that tells of the legend of the Bell family and the spirit that haunted them. John Bell moved his family from North Carolina to Robertson County, Tennessee in 1803. He was a farmer and became a leader in a local church. He and his family lived peacefully until 1817 when strange things started happening in and around their home.

Stories differ, but here is a summary of what I was told, read and imagined.

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One night in 1817 John Bell was disturbed from a sound sleep by knocking outside his home. When he investigated, he found nothing. He reassured his family and everyone settled down to rest before another busy   

The story would stop here, but this wasn’t a one night occurrence. Instead the noises grew louder with each passing night. One day Betsy, John’s daughter, came in from the yard out of breath, and barely coherent she told her mama what she saw at the edge of the wood.

“Mama, it was a weird creature, ugly, I was afraid. I… I could see through it.” Mama comforted her and put her to bed with a cup of tea. Later she told John about it when he came in. They agreed to be wary and cautious while they were out.

That night the noises moved inside the home. The family got little rest from that night on. The demon moved about in the day as well, slamming doors, breaking glass and other unsettling distractions for the family. Eventually, the demon was strong enough to speak.

“Who are you?” John said.

Many times the unseen being gave different names. This particular night she said, “I am the witch of Kate Batts.” That name was used from then on.

“Why are you here?” he said.

” I am here to kill you, John. Betsy you will not marry Joshua Gardner.”

John had kept the strange haunting a secret for a long time, but eventually the strange noises accelerated to physical torment. Kate pulled Betsy hair, pinched her and beat her. John didn’t fare any better. He often felt as if he was choking, and he developed facial tics. He finally confided in a neighbor, James Johnson. James and his wife spent several nights with the Bell’s and confirmed the noises. James and John agreed to call together trusted neighbors to form a committee to investigate.

News as sensational as the Bell’s witch wouldn’t stay a secret for long. Soon people from near and far traveled to the Bell home to experience the terror of the witch, Kate. Andrew Jackson came from his Old Hickory home to witness the haunting. Everyone who visited came away mystified.

John Bell grew weaker each day, until on December 20, 1820 he died. After her father’s death, Betsy called off her engagement to Joshua. Kate’s mission completed, she left without ever revealing her reason for targeting the family. When she left she promised to return in seven years. Folks in Adams say she did for a visit to John Bell, Jr.’s home. There she spoke with John about the past and the future. She left again and promised to return one hundred and seven years.

Strange occurrences continue to be reported in Adams. Many say Kate never left; she will forever haunt the community, making her presences known in supernatural ways. Martha and I live about 15 miles from Adams. Her daughters and their families live there. The legend lives on to this day.

There have been many books written about the Bell family and the witch. The earliest are Authenticated History of Bell Witch by M. V. Ingram and A Mysterious Spirit by Charles Bailey Bell.

There’s a month-long Bell Witch Fest each October. Tonight, Halloween night, is the last night to visit the Bell Witch Cave for a frightful evening of chills and thrills.

Now you can tell your children, grandchildren or anyone else the story of the Bell’s Witch and her evil torment of the Bell family from 1817 through 1820. Tell them she still roams the woods in Adams and plays wicked tricks on the residents.

 

 

 

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A Horse Story

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Ginger, a chestnut mare, was a gift from my father when we were living on Brindley Mt., Alabama. She was skittish, but friendly. I rode her in the fields when I could find time away from the children. Dad also gave my boys a Shelton pony with a cart. That’s a story from another time.

One afternoon friends from Huntsville came to visit. We walked to the barn, and at their request I saddled Ginger so they could have a ride. I decided I’d take her around the barn to get her settled and warmed up. We were trotting around for the first time when we rounded the last corner, and there were my friends laughing a talking. Ginger jumped in alarm, and began rearing in fear. You guessed it I lost my seat and my guest lost their desire to ride.

My neighbor had a Tennessee Walking Horse that he offered to let mate with Ginger.
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We decided to leave them in the field for their romantic interlude instead of interfering in what is natural. Horses are energetic in their amour; they bite, kick, whinny and dance around each other. I had to wonder if Ginger would survive. Then I silently reminded myself they have been successfully mating without anyone’s help for a long time! Ginger produced a beautiful black male colt.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is gaited horse known for its unique four-beat “running walk”. They have a distinctive exaggerated movement called the Big Lick style. The breed is a mix of Narragansett and Canadian Pacer, Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Morgan, and American Saddlebred stock. It is a popular riding horse because of its calm disposition, smooth gaits and sure-footedness.

Shelbyville, Tennessee hosts an annual national celebration that is well attended. If you’re interested visit http://www.twhnc.com/eventcalendar.htm for a calendar of events.

Watertown, Tennessee Part 2

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The population of Watertown is around 1,480 souls. Perhaps you think there’s nothing to do in this small community of commuters and farmers; you’d be wrong.

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Saturday, July 12, there is a Music Festival taking place. If you’d like to know more visit http://watertownmusicandarts.com/.

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Sunset Shopping on Saturday, July 19 features drawings for prizes, refreshments and special sales.

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While you’re there you’ll want to visit Jim’s Antique’s on the square. Jim is a Maine transplant. Each year Jim makes the trip back to Maine; when he returns he brings maple syrup and other New England delicacies for his customers in the Middle Tennessee area.

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This fall in September you won’t want to miss the famous Mile Long Yard Sale.

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In October the Excursion Train will feature a Train Robbery benefit. You can see the full year schedule of the train at http://tcry.org/pass_ops.htm. November the event on the train is the Murder Mystery Train. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume and to be ready to participate. Of course the train runs the Polar Express with Santa in December.
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Tennessee Sounds Good Part 2

Every state in the U.S. has symbols to brag about, songs, wild life and flags. I’ll show you some historical landmarks as well.

Tennessee got it’s nickname as the Volunteer State during the War of 1812 because of the prominent role played by volunteer soldiers from Tennessee, especially during the Battle of New Orleans.

I love our state song, Rocky Top by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant.

One of the finest singers is our Mocking Bird. He sings a melodious song of its own, and is noted for mimicking the songs of other birds.
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The firefly and the lady bug are our state insects.
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We honor the tulip poplar tree because the pioneers primarily used it to build their cabins.
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The passion wild flower, our state wild flower, got its name from Christian missionaries to South America, who saw in the flower’s various parts symbols of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
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The purple iris is commonly accepted as our state flower. All colors grow profusely all over the state.
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The “bandit” raccoon is our state animal. I read in a list somewhere this adorable creature is considered one of 20 of the most dangerous animals.
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Nashville is the state capitol. Our capitol building is a beautiful example of Grecian architecture.
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Andrew Jackson, lawyer, judge, U.S. representative, was the seventh president of the United States. He is known for founding the Democratic Party and for his support of personal liberty. His nicknames include, “People’s President” and “Old Hickory”. His home, the Hermitage, is just outside Nashville. Anytime I can I take visitors there, and enjoy it each time.
Hermitage

One last landmark and treasure before I go: The Parthenon in Nashville.

Watertown, Tennessee, Part 1

I went for a weekend visit with my brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Gloria Dixon. They live in a beautiful town called Watertown. I want to tell you a little about the town and my visit.

After the Revolutionary War, the federal and nine state governments awarded land grants to citizens and soldiers for services rendered. Colonel Archibald Lytle and his brother William were given land that is now known as Watertown. Wilson L. Waters moved into the area in late 1700’s. In 1845 the post office moved from nearby Three Forks to Wilson’s store. Waters added a sawmill, gristmill and blacksmith shop. Eventually his 400-acre farm became known as Watertown.

When the Nashville and Knoxville Railroad built a depot in Watertown in 1885, it became the hub of business in the area. The increased business led to a doubling of the village’s size. A fire in 1903 destroyed the wood structures of the village, and many businesses. Rebuilding resulted in a town square surrounded by brick buildings; it remains the core of the current city of Watertown.

The town has been the site of several music videos, television episodes and motion picture productions throughout its history. Visit http://www.watertowntn.com/ to see a listing. Here’s one I like http://youtu.be/_EL3kSwh-h0

Songwriter Tom T. Hall wrote these lyrics about Watertown, Tennessee:
I got a little farm and it’s mostly rock
It ain’t too much but it’s all I got
Bluebirds singing in the evergreen trees
In Watertown Tennessee
Hey, Watertown Tennessee
People in Watertown will never do die
When they reach a hundred they can truly fly
Sail into heaven on a southerly breeze
In Watertown Tennessee
Hey, Watertown Tennessee
I had me an outhouse down by the creek
Prettiest outhouse you ever did see
Flood came along now I’m up the creek
In Watertown Tennessee
Hey, Watertown Tennessee
Well, a big old red hawk circling around
Looking for a chicken down here on the ground
Sometimes he gets as high as me
In Watertown Tennessee
Hey, Watertown Tennessee
When I get to heaven if I ever do die
I’m a gonna cut me a hole in the sky
Sittin’ in a mansion and all I’ll see
Is Watertown Tennessee
Hey, Watertown Tennessee
Now if you want to be famous and you want to be rich
People in Watertown taught me a trick I’m gonna tell it
If I stay around long, whoops, that’s the end of this song
Called Watertown Tennessee

Times up today. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you some intimate details of Watertown.

Tennessee Sounds Good Part 1

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I was born in Missouri, but spent more time in Tennessee, so I call it home. The name comes from a Cherokee word, Tanasi, the name of a village translated river. Our statehood birthdate is June 1, 1796.

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The Nashville Basin or the Central Basin, the area surrounding Nashville, Tennessee, was caused by an uplifting which produced a dome. The underlying rock strata dip down away from Nashville. The uplifting of the dome fractured overlying strata, causing erosion and resulted in the dome becoming a basin.

One of the main difficulties of living here in the basin is allergies. Nothing escapes the basin, and several types of pollen flourishes here. Contributing factors are a longer growing season, rainfall with a temperate climate, and amazing variety of trees and grasses. Guess what I’m allergic to, trees and grass. At least I don’t have to mow! But I love to garden and it makes me miserable.

grand div
Another distinction of Tennessee is three geographic regions. The Grand Divisions are East, Middle, and West Tennessee, many times called the 3 states of Tennessee. Each is roughly one-third of the state’s land area, and are geographically, culturally, legally, and economically distinct. Our flag of Tennessee has three prominent stars representing the Grand Divisions.
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Where Two Rivers Meet – Part 2

Clarksville grew along the banks of the Cumberland River. The city incorporated in 1855, and became known for its production of dark fired tobacco. Farming brought prosperity as well. In the 20th century Clarksville and Montgomery County took on a more technology-based profile. Today the city has become part of a significant regional center for transportation and industry and one of Tennessee’s fastest-growing cities.

walk The Cumberland River Walk is a 2-mile riverfront promenade. steam boatThere families can enjoy the playground and picnic area, and a beautiful place to walk or ride bikes. The park is the setting for various exhibits, festivals and concerts during the year.

nick and me on riverwalk It’s one of my favorite places to come and walk Nick. Yes, pets are welcome, and there are pet stations along the path.