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Communicating with the Dead (Original)


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Author Topic: Communicating with the Dead (Original)  (Read 4256 times)
Trent
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« Reply #195 on: January 19, 2008, 03:31:31 pm »

Sandra Taylor

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   posted 07-21-2005 10:30 PM                       
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The Bell Witch, cont’d

Andrew Jackson Challenges the Witch
So widely spread was the news about The Bell Witch that people came from hundreds of miles around hoping to hear the spirit’s shrill voice or witness a manifestation of its vile temper. When word of the haunting reached Nashville, one of its most famous citizens, General Andrew Jackson, decided to gather a party of friends and journey to Adams to investigate. The General, who had earned his tough reputation in many conflicts with Native Americans, was determined to confront the phenomenon and either expose it as a hoax or send the spirit away. A chapter in M. V. Ingram’s 1894 book, An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch – considered by many to be the best account of the story – is devoted to Jackson’s visit:

Gen. Jackson’s party came from Nashville with a wagon loaded with a tent, provisions, etc., bent on a good time and much fun investi­gating the witch. The men were riding on horseback and were following along in the rear of the wagon as they approached near the place, discussing the matter and planning how they were going to do up the witch. Just then, traveling over a smooth level piece of road, the wagon halted and stuck fast. The driver popped his whip, whooped and shouted to the team, and the horses pulled with all of their might, but could not move the wagon an inch. It was dead stuck as if welded to the earth. Gen. Jackson commanded all men to dismount and put their shoulders to the wheels and give the wagon a push, but all in vain; it was no go. The wheels were then taken off, one at a time, and examined and found to be all right, revolving easily on the axles. Gen. Jackson after a few moments thought, realizing that they were in a fix, threw up his hands exclaiming, “By the eternal, boys, it is the witch.” Then came the sound of a sharp metallic voice from the bushes, saying, “All right General, let the wagon move on, I will see you again to-night.” The men in bewildered astonishment looked in every direction to see if they could discover from whence came the strange voice, but could find no explanation to the mystery. The horses then started unexpectedly of their own accord, and the wagon rolled along as light and smoothly as ever.

According to some versions of the story, Jackson did indeed encounter The Bell Witch that night:

Betsy Bell screamed all night from the pinching and slapping she received from the Witch, and Jackson’s covers were ripped off as quickly as he could put them back on, and he had his entire party of men were slapped, pinched and had their hair pulled by the witch until morning, when Jackson and his men decided to hightail it out of Adams. Jackson was later quoted as saying, "I’d rather fight the British in New Orleans than to have to fight the Bell Witch."

The Death of John Bell
The torment of the Bell house continued for years, culminating in the ghost’s ultimate act of vengeance upon the man she claimed had cheated her: she took responsibility for his death. In October 1820, Bell was struck with an illness while walking to the pigsty of his farm. Some believe that he suffered a stroke, since thereafter he had difficulty speaking and swallowing. In and out of bed for several weeks, his health declined. The Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, tells this part of the story:

On the morning of December 19, he failed to awake at his regular time. When the family noticed he was sleeping unnaturally, they attempted to arouse him. They discovered Bell was in a stupor and couldn’t be completely awakened. John Jr. went to the medicine cupboard to get his father’s medicine and noticed it was gone with a strange vial in its place. No one claimed to have replaced the medicine with the vial. A doctor was summoned to the house. The witch began taunting that she had place the vial in the medicine cabinet and given Bell a dose of it while he slept. Contents of the vial were tested on a cat and discovered to be highly poisonous. John Bell died on December 20. "Kate" was quiet until after the funeral. After the grave was filled, the witch began singing loudly and joyously. This continued until all friends and family left the grave site.

The Bell Witch left the Bell household in 1821, saying that she would return in seven years time. She made good on her promise and “appeared” at the home of John Bell, Jr. where, it is said, she left him with prophecies of future events, including the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. The ghost said it would reappear 107 years later – in 1935 – but if she did, no one in Adams came forward as a witness to it.

Some claim that the spirit still haunts the area. On the property once owned by the Bells is a cave, which has since become known as The Bell Witch Cave, and many locals claim to have seen strange apparitions at the cave and at other spots on the property.

An Explanation?
A few rational explanations of The Bell Witch phenomena have been offered over the years. The haunting, they say, was a hoax perpetrated by Richard Powell, the schoolteacher of Betsy Bell and Joshua Gardner, with whom Betsy was in love. It seems Powell was deeply in love with the young Betsy and would do anything to destroy her relationship with Gardner. Through a variety of pranks, tricks, and with the help of several accomplices, it is theorized that Powell created all of the “effects” of the ghost to scare Gardner away. Indeed, Gardner was the target of much of the witch’s violent taunting, and he eventually did break up with Betsy and left the area. It has never been satisfactorily explained how Powell achieved all these remarkable effects, including paralyzing Andrew Jackson’s wagon. But he did come out the winner. He married Betsy Bell.

http://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa101399a.htm
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