If you've read Ghost Walking (A Maggie York Paranormal Mystery), you'll know Maggie's mystical relatives warned her about The Bell Witch and "nasty" ghosts like her. That warning was based on my book research of this southern legend...or perhaps real events in the early 1800s. It depends on who you ask.
In 1817 the John Bell family of Adams, Tennessee, experienced four years of strange happenings in and around their home and county. Unexplainable noises, moved objects, and even physical attacks on family members, particularly young Betsy.
The perpetrator of this mayhem proclaimed herself to be a local witch, Kate Batts, with whom John had quarreled. The basis for the disagreement may have been a land or slave dispute, or John may have shot at Kate when she appeared on his property in a hybrid-creature form. In any case, Kate was unrelenting for more than four years, tormenting family, friends, and neighbors with cruel and painful pranks, screeching condemnation, and hideous laughter. Her attacks culminated in John's mysterious illness and death in 1820. Local legend reports Kate's ghostly presence appeared at his funeral, laughing and mocking the mourners.
Kate eventually broke off her attacks on the remaining family and disappeared into a cave on the property. Many believe it held an opening to the Beyond. Seven years later Kate appeared again, renewed her attacks, then vanished just as suddenly.
According to area residents, mysterious events are still occurring near the cave two hundred years later, supporting the belief that Kate remains nearby.
If you'd like to read more about The Bell Witch, her torment of this family, and possible reasons for it, check out the following sites: