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Journal / Nashville Guide

Beware The Bell Witch

No, not the Blair Witch, although you would be excused if you confused Nashville’s spookiest spirit with the one from the 1999 movie.

In a nutshell, here’s the story. A woman named Kate Batts lived in Adams, Tennessee (located about 40 miles northwest of Nashville) in the 1800s. According to her, she was cheated out of land by her neighbor John Bell. There wasn’t much she could do about it. So, she vowed to haunt him (and his descendants) for eternity. Lots of people say that in the heat of passion, of course, but it seems Kate actually did. (At least those who believe in ghosts think she did.) For nearly two centuries, people have attributed all manner of things to the Bell Witch (what Kate is now called), from throwing things slamming doors, pulling people’s hair and other creepiness. There’s even a story where the notorious tough guy President Andrew Jackson refused to stay with his troops when they had to sleep on the Bell Farm.

The Bell Witch visits her haunts year-round, of course (do ghosts have calendars?), so no matter when you come to town you can learn more about her and the lore. But around Halloween, there are more opportunities to meet her in a controlled environment. Two worth your time:

Check out Spirit: The Authentic History of The Bell Witch, a play written by David Alford (a Adams native). It is based on the journal of Richard Williams Bell, and is believed to be the only eyewitness account of the Batts’ first hauntings. Tickets are $25-$30 and are available from

If you prefer to see things for yourself, book a cabin tour at the Bell Witch Cave, also in Adams.** The Bell Witch Cave** has been on the National Historic Registry for decades. On a tour, you’ll learn more about the Bell family, walk through the cave illuminated by lantern-light, and, in October, you can also take hay rides and partake in other seasonal activities. Tickets are available online.

Explore all you want knowing you can get back to a safe, non-haunted room at the Bobby Nashville before the sun comes up.