Please either include your comments at the end of this post or visit the Interactive - Rumors & Facts page on my website to make your comments:
DJ Lyons: For those of you who are not familiar with the Tennessee Bell Witch, the family of John and Lucy Bell was haunted by a poltergeist from 1817 to 1821. Once the family revealed to relatives and friends the details of the haunting, no less than four people and sometimes as many as 50 people would crowd into the Bell house to witness the nightly haunting. Andrew Jackson himself was reported to have had a run-in with the poltergeist that many people either called Kate (with a K) or the Bell Witch. Unfortunately, many people pointed the finger of blame at an innocent neighbor by the name of Cate (with a C) Williams Batts. They either accused her of being the poltergeist who was doing the haunting, even though she was a living woman at the time, or they accused her of somehow engineering the hauntings. Where did the term ‘Bell Witch’ come from? At first they called this entity a spirit. They did not seem to know the term poltergeist; however, that is truly what this entity was - a noisy ghost. When the level of mischievousness increased, they took to calling the entity who was haunting the BELL family a WITCH or BELL WITCH. Read my book to hear the true story of how many people gravitated to calling this poltergeist by the name of Kate (with a K).
Question 2 of 4 for Reader: Have you ever had an encounter with the Bell Witch or another supernatural entity? What happened? Please either include your comments at the end of this post or visit the Interactive - Rumors & Facts page on my website to make your comments: http://askdjlyons.com/bell_witch/rumors_page_2.html
DJ Lyons: My first real run-in with the Bell Witch happened in the fall of 1990. Read the full story in my Blog entry titled “THE LAW OF ATTRACTION AND THE BELL WITCH IN 1990.” Link: http://askdjlyons.blogspot.com/2008/03/law-of-attraction-and-bell-witch-in.html
Question 3 of 4 for Reader: What rumors (true and untrue) have you heard about the Tennessee Bell Witch? Please either include your comments at the end of this post or visit the Interactive - Rumors & Facts page on my website to make your comments:
DJ Lyons: When I was assigned to write the story of the Tennessee Bell Witch for a Halloween Storytelling Journal, various librarians and storytellers told me the following rumors:
Rumor: Anyone who attempts to write the story of the Tennessee Bell Witch is cursed.
Fact: Researching and writing a short story about the Tennessee Bell Witch back in 1990 did not curse me; however, it did give me the willies as I felt some kind of presence around me as I conducted my research at the Kingsport Public Library.
Rumor: If you stand in front of a mirror and state 5 times in a row, “I hate the Bell Witch!”, you will either see a black streak down the front of your face or the Bell Witch standing right behind you.
Fact: That rumor came from a number of teenagers. When I asked them what they experienced, they either admitted they were too scared to say those words the 5th time, or they never dared to try that ritual in the first place. Read my book titled “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist” to find out the details of what happened to one particular teenager who was peer-pressured into chanting those words all 5 times. http://www.bellwitchunveiled.com/Buy_Book.html
Rumor: A storyteller confided that a famous storyteller who has been telling her version of the Tennessee Bell Witch for years would feel an invisible hand pulling on her arm during her performance.
Fact: Sometime in the late 1990’s, I was performing at the Oak Ridge Children’s museum. This famous storyteller was performing there as well. When I delicately tried to ask that famous storyteller about this rumor, she clammed up. Just in case, I proceeded to tell her that Cate Williams Batts was not the perpetrator of the haunting. I also told her several other details that are revealed in my book titled “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist.” I was hoping that she would either cease telling her version of the story in which she gives Cate the blame or that she would revise her story altogether. I don’t know whether or not she made any changes to her performance. At least, I know I tried.
Rumor: Way back before I moved to Knoxville, TN, I had several discussions with a Knoxville-based storyteller who also had been performing the story of the Tennessee Bell Witch for years. She had always given Cate the blame in her rendition of this story. She told me that the lights would frequently flicker or go out as she told this tale. Sometimes, the sound system would malfunction. Twice, a psychic approached her at the conclusion of her performance to report that she saw the Bell Witch looming over her during the part of the performance when the storyteller announced that Cate was the perpetrator of the haunting.
Fact: I never witnessed any of these performances; however, this storyteller agreed to revise the story altogether. When she went to one park to give one of her annual performances, several members of the audience requested she tell the story of the Tennessee Bell Witch. She explained that she could not tell the story at that time as she had learned some new facts that changed the entire focus of her tale. A question and answer period followed. After the performance was over, two best friends approached her. One was a direct descendant of John and Lucy Bell. The other was a direct descendant of Cate and Frederick Batts. They thanked her for revising her story. They had been aware about the cover-up perpetrated by many of the friends and relatives of both families. They were relieved that justice was finally going to be done for Cate Williams Batts and all the past, present, and future members of her extended family.
Rumor: Late in 1993, I learned from a direct descendant of Cate and Frederick Batts, that there was a Middle Tennessee man and woman who courted for 50 years; however, they never dared marry. I believe they both passed on sometime in the 1980’s. One was a direct descendant of John and Lucy Bell and had the last name of Bell. One was a direct descendant of Joshua Gardner, the man who was the former fiancé of Betsy Bell and had the last name of Gardner. Just as Betsy Bell felt forced to break her engagement to Joshua Gardner as she truly believed he would be killed by the poltergeist, this couple feared that they too would suffer injury or death should they actually become husband and wife.
Fact: I don’t know if this was a true fact or not. It is sad that after more than 175 years, people in Middle Tennessee are still afraid of the poltergeist who haunted the family of John and Lucy Bell.
Rumor: If you try to take a picture of the outside of the cave known as the Bell Witch Cave, the picture will not come out. Also, some people would find that their camera would malfunction.
Fact: I was able to take several pictures inside the cave; however, I too was NOT able to take a picture of the entrance of the cave. Visit this website to arrange for your own visit to the Bell Witch Cave at http://www.bellwitchcave.com/ .
Rumor: Almost all of the archives (in courthouses and libraries and genealogical records) state that Cate Williams Batts was the wife of Frederick Batts.
Fact: One author, who interviewed many of the same people I did, erroneously writes in his book rendition about the Bell Witch that Cate was married to one of Frederick's brothers - Benjamin.
Rumor: Many archives state the Cate Williams Batts was a widow when the haunting of the Bell family took place.
Fact: Cate was never a widow. She died 13 years after the 1820 death of John Bell and one year before the 1834 death of her husband, Frederick Batts.
Rumor: Many archives give the impression that none of Cate’s children lived long enough to have children of their own.
Fact: As I detail in one of my Blog entries entitled “My Motives & Motivations for Writing The Bell Witch Unveiled Book,” (http://askdjlyons.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-motives-motivations-for-writing-bell.html#links )the archives all indicate that she only had two sons and one daughter, none of whom lived to have children of their own. It turns out that those three were actually her nephews and niece by an In-Law. On my second research trip to Adams, Tennessee, I personally met three of her direct descendants. The wife of a 4th direct descendant never admitted her connection; however, she was the one who hooked me up with one of those three who introduced me to the other two. I found out that Cate Batts actually had five daughters and one son who lived into their majority. Think about it. If your mother was accused of witchcraft back in the early 1800s, what chance did you have to make a good marriage or any kind of marriage at all? Her oldest daughter, Rebecca Batts, was the 2nd wife of Solomon James. She married before all this business of the false accusations and superstition got started. She either had 12 or 13 children by Solomon. It was difficult to know for certain the exact number as all three of his wives had the first name of Rebecca. Cate’s youngest daughter, Nancy Batts, never married nor had children. Cate’s other three daughters, Mary, Sarah, and Rhoda, had several out-of-wedlock children between them. Eventually, Sarah married a man 39 years her senior. Mary and Rhoda never wed at all. Cate’s son, John, moved to Illinois when he became an adult, disassociating himself totally from the entire dramatic, traumatic situation.
Rumor: The poltergeist, often called Kate (with a K) or the Bell Witch, was a female entity. Many people even wrongly feel that the niece of Lucy Williams Bell, Cate Williams Batts, was the culprit. For full details of how this happened, read my book.
Fact: The three poltergeists, who frequently acted as one composite energy, were all three male. They simply chose to use a feminine-sounding voice to keep John Bell from ever figuring out their true identities. Read my book titled “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist.” to find out the full details of their identities, motivations, and strategies.
Rumor: All the haunting that took place in Adams, TN, was perpetuated by the Tennessee Bell Witch.
Fact: According to the owners of the Bell Witch Cave, the Trail of Tears crossed portions of their property. Some of the supernatural activity was perpetuated by some of those deceased Cherokee Indians. The other supernatural activity was actually perpetuated by some other entities. Read my book to find out more details about them. In fact, several of those spirits followed me home after my first visit to the Bell Witch Cave and created a bit of mischief. Read this article to find out more details. It is called "Haunting Experiences with the Bell Witch Cave."
Rumor: DJ Lyons is not my real name.
Fact: That is true. DJ Lyons is my pen name. Just like Samuel Clemens published his book “Tom Sawyer” under the pen name of Mark Twain, I wrote my book titled“The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist” using the pen name of DJ Lyons. D. and J. are actually the initials of my first name and my middle name. Lyons is a name I chose for three reasons:
(1) I love lions.
(2) A lion is one of my animal totems.
(3) Archangel Michael, an angel I saw in a vision once, is often represented as a lion. (Read John P. Pratt's article for further details of how Archangel Michael came to be known as the “lion of God” at http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2001/4stars.html.)
To fancy it up a bit, I did change the spelling from “L-I-O-N-S” to “L-Y-O-N-S.”
Question 4 of 4 for Reader: Do you have any other supernatural experiences, rumors and facts about the Tennessee Bell Witch, or Vision Quests you would like to share? Please either include your comments at the end of this post or visit the Interactive - Rumors & Facts page 4 on my website to make your comments:
With Love and Light to all of you and yours,
Author of “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist”