Bell Witch Revelations & Rumors

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Bell Witch

This final article on the Bell Witch addresses many revelations and rumors that have since surfaced. Nearly two centuries have passed since these events and countless legends have developed since. It’s impossible to gather them all, and even more difficult to find the necessary history on each theory to include it. These are the most widely known revelations and rumors.


Strange Revelations

One of the most disturbing modern Bell Witch “explanations” is John Bell’s sexually abuse of Betsy. This supposition gained popularity in the 1970s, when it became accepted that adolescence was linked to poltergeist activity. How that initial consideration evolved into a father raping his daughter remains unknown. According to that theory, John was murdered by Lucy, and not the spirit. What is most problematic with this theory is the spirit attacked Betsy. The attacks were not consistent and only happened if she tried to talk to Joshua Gardener

Strangely enough, this immense reach of imagination was also the tale used in the feature film about the events. The inherently flawed accusation dismisses most of the events’ wonderfully mysterious nature. It neglects many details that have made the case last for 200 years.

A household with seven children today is lacking in privacy, for any family member. This event occurred in an era before televisions, video games, or any other electronic diversion. With the number of individuals in the household, as well as servants, a continual stream of visitors, and the fact that the Bell household had two daughters, this theory is highly improbable.

Despite the many revelations of so many community secrets, no accusations were ever leveled against John or Betsy Bell. It would’ve been the perfect opportunity for news of such abuse to manifest in front of everyone. An entity which harbored such hatred for John Bell, it would’ve delighted in telling the entire region that John was engaged in such behavior. The spirit remained mute on this subject, just as it couldn’t specify a reason as to why Betsy shouldn’t marry Joshua.


Addressing other Rumors

Another strange tale came from a “respectable bachelor” and neighbor of the Bell household, William Porter. He claimed he tried to sleep one night when the spirit entered his house. It crawled under his bed, as if to torment him. He grabbed onto the being with a sheet and held tight. He was going to throw it in the fire, but a sudden noxious odor made him cover his face. The witch escaped.

  • To put other rumors to rest, it should also be stated that Richard Powell did not keep a true diary. His “ciphering book” contained a little genealogical information, but nothing of interest beyond mathematical problems.
  • There were no Native American burial grounds around Adams, Tennessee.
  • The “Bell Witch Cave” is a modern invention based upon a little known and undocumented incident where the Bell Witch helped one of Betsy’s friends out of the cave.

There were actually more witnesses of Powell’s occult activity that just John and Calvin Johnson, although again, it was not formally documented. The students were the primary source of this information. Several students claimed he often spoke to himself, in an unknown language, when he was alone. Several students also claimed to have barged in the school after everyone had gone home. They forgot something in the classroom. According to those accounts, they interrupted the teacher who had lit candles and was speaking from a strange book.

The Bell family never believed Kate Batts was at fault, or the cause, of any of their troubles. Any conflict between she and John Bell was never believed to be an issue.

Much of the lore and legend surrounding the family seems to stem from humanity’s need to justify terrible events. It embraces the notion that, for something like this to afflict Bell and his family, he must’ve done something to warrant it. As we will find in these situations, it just isn’t the case.



One legend states President Andrew Jackson visited the property and interacted with the spirit. Today, some sources state this was false, but several witnesses claimed to be there.

M. V. Ingram based his book on interviews with more than 43 people of Robertson County, throughout the Nineteenth Century. Many were old enough to have first-hand information.



Series Navigation<< The Bell Family HistoryKate Batts’ Bell Witch >>


  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet. Don’t spoil it for me. 😛 I like Donald Sutherland, and I am curious about it. I will keep some of your points in mind when I finally do see it, though.

      1. I will remember you didn’t like it, LOL.

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