- The Pursuit of the Bell Witch
- The Trials of Betsy Bell
- The Bell Family History
- Bell Witch Revelations & Rumors
- Kate Batts’ Bell Witch
- Sugarmouth and the Johnson Family
- Betsy Bell and Incorporeal Adolescence
- Professor Powell: The Mind behind the Bell Witch?
- Bell Witch Skeptics and the Issues They Face
- Ciphering the Bell Witch
James Johnson, or “Old Sugarmouth,” became a central figure in Bell Witch history, almost as much as Betsy’s siblings were. His sons, John and Calvin, were said to have caught Powell in the middle of something dubious. This story has been passed down through Johnson’s descendants, but has not been published in any known works.
John and Calvin Johnson stopped at the schoolhouse to speak with Powell one evening. School was out, so the blinds were drawn. They found the front door ajar and stepped inside. The schoolhouse had two levels. The main floor was the classroom, with Powell’s quarters in the basement.
The two men looked around the classroom, but there was no sign of life. They called out for Powell several times, but couldn’t get a response. Since they weren’t in a hurry, they decided to wait a little while to for him to return.
The two men ambled to the front of the classroom and Calvin noticed a strange, leather bound book on Powell’s desk. He picked it up, leafed through the pages, and was amazed by what he saw. He asked John to step over and look at it, too. The two men briefly examined it, but Powell came bounding up the steps from below. He didn’t even speak until he grabbed the book out of Calvin’s hands and locked it in a cabinet.
Powell said it was an antique geometry book and he didn’t like anyone else handling it due to its fragility.
The brothers were suspicious, but said no more about the book. Calvin was an advanced geometry student and knew the few symbols in the text were not for geometric study. They also didn’t see any mathematical or geometry notes on any of the pages. Aside from English, both men were familiar with Greek and Latin, but the language in the book wasn’t any of those.
It begs the question if Powell was somehow manipulating the witch from the basement, and if the arcane book helped him orchestrate the haunting. There is no record of what happened to this mysterious volume or of anyone else seeing it again.