Tours of the Bell Witch Cave haunt Tennesseans

By Isabella Patta, Staff Writer —

October provides many people with the ability to enjoy the fall season, pumpkin spice-everything and—Halloween. Next to local attractions like Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern, another place in Tennessee is widely known for its “hauntedness”: the Bell Witch Cave.

The Bell Witch Cave is located in Adams, Tennessee, which is about two and a half hours from Chattanooga and less than an hour from Nashville. The farm belonged to John Bell and his family and according to the official website, “[In 1817] some members of the family began seeing strange looking animals around the property. Then late at night they started hearing knocking sounds on the doors and outer walls of the house. Later sounds were being heard in the house. Sounds of a rat gnawing on the bed post, chains being drug through the house, stones being dropped on the wooden floors, then gulping and choking sounds.”

The farm and the mysterious happenings became popular, and many people traveled great distances to witness it themselves. The unknown force grew so strong, that “[it] had gained enough strength that it now had a voice. When asked who and what it was, it gave different identities,” as mentioned on the website. One of them was Kate Batts.

Betsy Bell was terrorized in her family home by her neighbor and witch, Kate Batts. [Photo contributed by Nut-meg, Wikimedia Commons]

Kate Batts, a neighbor, wanted John Bell to die and did not want John’s daughter, Betsy Bell, to marry Joshua Gardner, another neighbor. Between 1817 and 1820, Kate terrorized the family constantly.

“John and his daughter Betsy [were] the ones who received the worst of the physical abuse. Betsy had her hair pulled, she was pinched, scratched stuck with pins and even beaten,” as mentioned on the website. “While John Bell began suffering from spells of swelling of the throat and often had the feeling of a stick being stuck sideways in his throat. Then came the twitching and jerking of the facial muscles. Kate would blast him with curses and hideous threats during these spells.”

On December 20, 1820, John Bell died, and in March of 1821, Betsy Bell broke off her engagement with Gardner. The witch left Adams, Tennessee and returned in 1828 for a short period of time.

According to the website, “She came to the home of John Bell Jr. and had long talks with him about the past, the present and the future.” She said she would return in 1935, but many believe that the witch never left the town.

The Bell property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the website, “Former president Andrew Jackson was quoted as saying “I had rather face the entire British Army than to spend another night with the Bell Witch” after he and some of his troops spent a night at the Bell’s farm.”

The show Ghost Adventures on the travel channel will feature an episode about the Bell Witch Cave on Saturday, November 4 at 7 p.m. E.S.T.

Prices for the cave tours are $12 per person, cabin tours cost $8 and a combined tour is $18. A hayride costs $10. For the month of October, the Bell Witch Cave has special Halloween events on the weekends.

Visitors can not use profanity or  bring pets, animals or video cameras. If visitors are underage, they will need to have parental consent.

To learn more about the Bell Witch Cave and see a detailed schedule of events, go to bellwitchcave.com

Grace Stafford

Grace Stafford

Features Editor

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