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The Bell Witch

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Author Topic: The Bell Witch  (Read 262 times)
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« on: April 09, 2007, 10:07:32 pm »

Published accounts

The earliest written account is in the Godspeed History of Tennessee published in 1887 by Goodspeed Publishing. No author is given. Page 833 reads:
“   A remarkable occurrence, which attracted widespread interest, was connected with the family of Garry Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the ‘Bell Witch.’ This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The feats it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfiture of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary. A volume might be written concerning the performance of this wonderful being, as they are now described by contemporaries and their descendants. That all this actually occurred will not be disputed, nor will a rational explanation be attempted. It is merely introduced as an example of superstition, weak in the minds of all but a few in those times, and yet not wholly extinct.   ”
The most famous account is recorded in the Red Book, the 1894 An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch of Tennessee by Martin Van Buren Ingram, which cites the earlier Richard William Bell's Diary: Our Family Trouble. Richard Williams Bell lists the following people as witnesses:
•   General Andrew Jackson
•   Joel Thomas Bell, son of John Bell, Jr.
•   Rev. Joshua Featheton
•   Dr. J.T. Mathews
•   Mr. E. Newton
•   R.H. Pickering
•   J. Gun
•   D. T. Porter
•   J.I Holman
•   Wm Wall
•   W.H. Gardner

The Black Book was written much later, and published in 1934 by Dr. Charles Bailey Bell, great-grandson of John Bell.

Thirteen Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham includes the story of the Bell Witch.

The Guidebook for Tennessee, published by the Works Project Administration in 1939, also contains an account that differs from Ingram's on pages 392–393.
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