This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Bell Witch

John Bell was already a successful North Carolina planter in 1804 when he brought his wife, Lucy, and six children to Robertson County, Tennessee. He eventually became owner of a 1,000-acre farm, in Adams, Tennessee. They were as blessed with children as they were monetary prosperity, and eventually had a total of seven sons and two daughters. Their sons were named Jesse, John Jr., Drew, Benjamin, Zadok, Richard Williams, and Joel. Their daughters were Esther and Elizabeth, or “Betsy.”

The family happily prospered until 1818, when the dubious activity began. John Bell noticed a strange dog while he was hunting. Strange dogs were farmers’ enemies because they killed young livestock and fowl. Bell shot at the animal to scare it off, but it seemed to change shape as it moved. It vanished before he could get a full glimpse of it. He didn’t think a great deal about it. John and Lucy noticed the oddities before anyone else. They assumed kids in the area were just playing pranks. They were so confident it would soon stop that they didn’t even bother telling their suspicions to their older children.


When Animals Attack

Unfortunately, the activity didn’t stop with the parents. One of Bell’s sons discovered what he thought was a strange wild turkey. He shot the creature for the family to eat, but this animal also disappeared. He caught a glimpse of it as it escaped, and it seemed to transform. He knew that was impossible, so decided it had to be a turkey and forgot about it.

Soon, Betsy Bell had her first encounter with the being, but she didn’t see animal or fowl. She watched a strange little girl in a light green dress swing from a lower limb of a huge tree.

Betsy was 14 at the time, but she was already informally betrothed. Joshua Gardener was her age and attended school with her. He came from a respected family that was very close with the Bells. Both families were pleased with thoughts of a future marriage.

John and daughter Betsy were both targeted by the spirit, but for different reasons. It became hard to dismiss the later activity as childish pranks. It became clear that the neighbors didn’t seem to be involved at all.


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