Deathly Destinations: Bell Witch Cave
Welcome to Deathly Destinations, a new selection of articles here at Soulless that will focus on the places of the dead. Deathly Destinations aims to focus on locations around the world that are either supposedly haunted or that have seen a lot of death or murders. If you know a local location that you'd like to share with us, contact us, we'd love to share it with the community! To kick off the Deathly Destinations feature, we're going to start with a location right here in the United States that is supposedly one of the more haunted locations in North America, and that is the Bell Witch Cave!
Located in Adams, Tennessee, the Bell Witch Cave is cave that is estimated to be about fifteen miles deep and was property owned by a farmer from North Carolina named John Bell. Bell and his family moved to their 320 acre farm in 1804. The farmland was quiet, peaceful, and and the family became quite prosperous from it. But in 1817 - everything would change for the Bell family. Members of the family began to report weird shaped animals roaming the property. Soon after, sounds began to arise outside of the house that resembled knocking, and before they knew it, the sounds moved to the inside of the house! The family reported hearing chains being dragged across the floors of the house, choking sounds, rats gnawing at the bedposts... but in an attempt to keep themselves from appearing crazy, they kept the occurrences to themselves for a year.
But everybody has their breaking point, and eventually the Bell family hit theirs when they asked their neighbor James Johnson and his wife to spend the night at the house and experience what they have been experiencing the past year. Mr. Johnson and his wife agreed, and sure enough, the hauntings continued and Mr. Johnson insisted that more people be made aware of what was going on. He encouraged an investigation, and before long a committee was set up to investigate. People traveled from all over to experience the Bell Witch, and apparently by then, the ghost had become so strong it developed its own voice that could answer questions and acknowledge people. When asked who it was, the ghost answered with different identities, although one of the identities it claimed to be was Kate Batts, another one of the neighbors of the Bell farm. Many people believed that this was the actual identity of the spirit, and so the name "Kate" stuck with the people who experienced her.
It is claimed that there are two reasons why "Kate" began to haunt the property and Bell family. For one, it is assumed that "Kate" was out to kill John Bell, although nobody could figure out why exactly. And the other reason was to stop Bell's youngest daughter Betsy from marrying a particular boy. In the three years that followed, "Kate" was relentless in her torments. The Bell family experienced pinching, scratching, hair pulling, and John Bell even experienced the sensation of having a stick being stuck sideways in his throat. Ouch. Following this, twitching and jerking of the facial muscles began as "Kate" threatened Bell throughout his bouts of torture. John ended up dying in 1820, and just a few months later, his daughter Betsy called off her engagement to the boy she wasn't supposed to be with. And soon, "Kate" was gone...
...however, she promised to return in just seven years. And in 1828, she kept her promise and returned for a few weeks where she spoke with John Bell Jr, and in their talks she revealed that there was a reason for his father's death, but the reason wasn't given. "Kate" said she was leaving again and would not return for another 107 years, which would have been in 1935, but local legend has it that "Kate" never actually left again, and that explains all of the strange paranormal activity that occurs on the Bell farm and cave property. People that visit the property claim that they have experienced the Bell Witch in person and that you can still feel her presence there!
The Bell Witch Cave is available for tours, as well as a replica log cabin that mimics that of the Bell family. The location also hosts some Halloween fun throughout the month of October. The cave its self looks like a pretty gnarly spot to check out, with long narrow tunnels, a spot where a Native American was apparently buried, and flowstone which looks like lava. For more information and to schedule a tour, visit the Bell Witch Cave website!