The Bell Witch has been described as the scariest and the most documented phenomenon in history.  Books have been written about it.  Movies have been made about it.  President Andrew Jackson has been reported to have cowered when challenging the witch.  The Bell Witch has inspired annual festivals and stage plays in Middle Tennessee.  BUT what is fact and what is fiction? Most people would be surprised.  Answering that question became the challenge of this website.

     This website originated in 2002 to log our search for the Bell Witch.  Since then we have met several serious researchers on the same quest as we.  Some were examining this legend in great detail seeking the truth, while most were looking for ways to commercialize and cash in on an audience a hundred years in the making.  The internet  has hundreds of Bell Witch pages.  Unfortunately, over the past fifteen years most of the websites that focused on actual history have disappeared.

     In our fifteen years of researching the Bell Witch legend we have searched newspaper archives in Nashville, Springfield, and Clarksville for original documentation of the event.  We have read historical accounts of early history in Middle Tennessee and North Carolina.  We have examined church records of the Baptist church to which John Bell belonged.  We have read Springfield court records posted in the time the Bell family resided in the region and checked with historical societies in the area.  We even examined notes of the family tutor for the children.  None of these writings mentioned the 1816 to 1820 event that became known as the Bell Witch.

The first mention of the event was in a short comment in 1886 by Albert Goodspeed in his "History of Tennessee" chapter on Robertson County.  In it he said
A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the "Bell Witch." This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The freaks it performed were wonderful, and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfiture of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary. A volume might be written concerning the performances of this wonderful being, as they are now described by contemporaries and their descendants.
In his comment he added this important statement
That all this actually occurred will not be disputed, nor will a rational explanation be attempted. It is merely introduced as an example of superstition, strong in the minds of all but a few in those times, and not yet wholly extinct.

      The first and only full account of the event was documented by M. V. Ingram in 1894 -- three generations after the claimed haunting occurred.  In his book Ingram claims Andrew Jackson had an encounter with entity.  This President was extensively reported, but somehow this incident was miraculously overlooked and not included any mention in Jackson's diaries.

     Ingram also states that the Saturday Evening Post reported on the event around 1849. I and other researchers have searched the archives of the Post and have never found that report.

     Ingram also claims his story was based on the diary of Richard William BellThat diary has never been found.

    I have searched dozens of accounts of the Bell Witch and tracing each back to the source, when appropriate references and attribution were provided, nothing predated M.V. Ingram. None provided new verifiable evidence. Most were a repeated of the Ingram; others were inventions of the author.  Some authors were honest about their creativity; many were deceptive.

     The purpose for posting our logs on the internet was to solicit help to find new source material.  Many people submitted help, but all reinforced our findings that no evidence other than the Ingram book exists and much of that can not be substantiated. In 2016 Ingram's creation and others who claim new evidence would be labeled as fake news.

     One researcher we met, college English Professor Ira Glass, approached the topic from a different, original, and unique angle.  His examination challenged the credibility of M.V. Ingram.  He had circumstantial evidence that Ingram invented story, not unlike many newspapers that attracted readers with bizarre stories.  Nothing sells better than to claim the "scary story is based on fact."  However, "based" on fact does not mean that the story itself is factual.

     Likewise, Dr. Joe Nickell, who works with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry contends
1) The so-called diary of Richard Bell, which Ingram claims as the source of his book was written by Ingram
2) The Goodspeed reference was inserted by Ingram, himself, to promote the latter's work. 
M. Ingram Story


Several authors have documented the haunting of John Bell in Adams, Tennessee. However, the best place the start in learning about Bell Witch is with the book that invented the whole thing. In 1894 Martin Ingram published "Authenticated History of The Bell Witch". (Here is a complete copy of the RED BOOK), which includes a copy of Richard William Bell's Diary: My Family's Troubles. Open this a ZIPPED Plain Text file by clicking on the link and the file will download to your computer. Save it, read it off-line at your leisure, or print it.

Join our search for the real story behind the Bell Witch. Some of our topics include:
- Background (How the Legend Perpetuates, A Time Line on the Legend)

- Adams and the Bell Witch Cave 

- Falsehoods (why the Bell Witch is not likely to have happened)

- Theories (what actually happened) 

- Final (Closing the case)  

- Stories (Couple Short Stories)
   - Jack Cook- The Spirit of Red River 
   - Tom Evans - Betsy's Witch

- Bibliography