GOOD SPIRIT, BAD SPIRIT: THE BELL WITCH
Adam Southern, Guest Columnist
Bell Witch Unveiled author to speak at library by Adam Southern
The Daily Herald, Wednesday, June 25, 2008, Volume 109, No. 223, Columbia, Tennessee
While growing up, there was nothing more terrifying to me than the story of the Bell Witch.
My fear was so great, that in my rowdiest moment, just the mention of the so-called spirit could calm me down in a seconds
time. The thought of the Bell Witch getting after me was far worse than the threat of being grounded, whipped, or submitted
to any other form of punishment conceived in my young mind.
To say the least, I was never one of the kids who stood in a dark bathroom saying Im not afraid of the Bell Witch while waiting
for her to appear in the mirror.
But the time came when I decided I was ready to conquer my childhood fears. So I purchased a copy of The Bell Witch of Tennessee,
written by a Bell family member, Charles Bailey Bell, and read it from front to back.
What I read left me not only sleeping with my head under the covers but surprised as well.
I had been told all of my life to look for the good in a person, dont just see the bad. Well, after reading the book, it was
plain to see that I had only been hearing the bad about the Bell Witch. It also had a good side.
The spirit, as the family called it (not witch), was known to accompany the Bell children to the swimming hole, play mischievous
tricks on the kids, and, believe it or not, sing and quote religious scripture. Lucy Bell, the mother, was especially fond
of the spirits singing and, in return, the spirit was fond of her.
The book mentions that Lucy Bell became deathly sick. The spirit sang religious songs to Lucy daily and left her bedside only
long enough to come back with exotic and out-of-season fruits. In the end, the Spirit was given much of the credit for healing
Lucy. Again, believe it or not.
It seemed to be a pretty good ol spirit, well, except for the fact that it beat and tormented Betsy, the eldest [sic, actually
youngest] of the Bell daughters, and was blamed for the death of her father, John Bell.
Why the spirit was so bad on old John, well never know, nor will we ever know who the spirit was. The most common belief is
that the spirit was conjured up by the Bells neighbor, Kate Batts, whom John Bell had supposedly wronged in a land deal. No
one knew for certain if Batts was the perpetrator; nevertheless, the name Kate has remained in the Bell Witch Legend for nearly
But, did anyone ever stop to think if Kate Batts wasnt the cause of the mysterious spirit? She may be getting a bad rap for
The author of a new book, The Bell Witch Unveiled at Last, DJ Lyons, thinks so, and she is out to clear the name of Kate
Batts and set the record straight.
Through many years of research, Lyons has reason to believe that the Bell Witch haunting began long before the Bell Family
ever moved to Tennessee. Her theory suggests that the haunting began in the mountains of North Carolina, near the town of
Rocky Mount. When the Bells decided to relocate to current day Adams, Tenn., the ghosts simply packed up and went with them.
This is a radical theory and one that if ever reaches mainstream, could change the way the world views Tennessees famous haunting.
This is why I have invited DJ Lyons to the library - to give the people of Maury County a chance to be among the first to
hear this new twist on the old story.
Lyons will be at the Maury County Library at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12, performing her 45-minute show, answering questions,
as well as selling and signing copies of her book.
Please come to see, as I will, if the reputation of Kate Batts can be salvaged, or if her name will forever by synonymous
with that of the Bell Witch.
You will know me. While shes talking about the witch, Ill be the skittish person hiding in the corner!
Adam Southern is a reference librarian at the Maury County Library.
July 19, 2008. Review of The Bell Witch Unveiled at Last!
by Adam T. Southern, Reference Librarian, Maury County Public
Library System, Columbia, Tennessee
All of my life, I have heard the story of the infamous Bell Witch of current day Adams,
Tennessee. I have heard the story many times and in many different ways, but the most
prevalent factor in all stories is that Kate (Cate) Batts was the cause of the witching and that she was solely responsible
for sending old John Bell to his maker. So, when I learned of the book, The Bell Witch Unveiled at Last
by D.J. Lyons,
it was like a breath of fresh air. The books sole purpose- to give a voice to the disenfranchised Cate Batts, who has been
a whipping post for far too long. The book brings the legend to life in a very interesting way- through the words of Cate
The book paints a image of Batts that the reader can now associate with the legend. Cate Batts is no longer a faceless feature,
but made alive by Lyons to tell her own tale, and by doing so, discloses the true identity of the mysterious Bell Witch.
Hold on to your pants, reader, because Cate Batts will take you for a ride back in time, to the small town of Adams, Tennessee
and the home of the Bell Witch!