Monday, November 08, 2004

Tis the season to be scary-The Bell Witch of Tenn.

Tis the season to be scary, and what better way to get scared than to take a vacation to the city where for over a hundred years a ghost continuously pinched, slapped, scolded and otherwise tormented a prominent Tennessee family in one of America's best-known poltergeist cases.

Most Memorable Trip

A little less that a year ago I became interested in the legend of the Bell Witch of Adams Tennessee while surfing the internet for scary stories as part of a Halloween project that I was working on at the time.

I am a full time student at the University of Central Florida, as well as a single mom of two wonderful children so I do not get to travel as often as I would like. However, after researching the information and using it as a guide I jumped at the opportunity to mix work with a little R & R. I immediately booked a trip to Adams, Tennessee.

Special Destination

In October 2003, me and a friend of mine, Leon Templeton, 36, flew from Orlando International airport to Nashville International. We then drove about hour to the small community of Adams, Tennessee located in Robertson County.

After arriving in Adams it did not take long for me to grasp how deeply ingrained, the legend of the Bell Witch was in this small rural town. There were signs and plaques everywhere with historical information about the key players of the Bell Witch legend. The first place that we went was the Red River campground to pitch our tents.

The Red River campground is set among a beautiful wilderness background covered in maple and pine trees. It was breathtaking as well as everything I had imagined. The colors of gold, yellow, burnt orange, sage, as well as red was everywhere and the clean scent of crisp fall air was something I will never forget.

Legend

Adams, Tennessee, in 1817, was the site of one of the most well known hauntings in American history. The haunting was so well known that it eventually caught the attention and then the involvement of a future president of the United States.

Word of the haunting soon reached Nashville. With a party of friends including Sam Houston, one of Nashville’s most famous citizens, General Andrew Jackson decided to leave his plantation, The Hermitage, and travel by horse and carriage to Adams in order to investigate the accusations of a demonic entity terrorizing his good friend, John Bell and his family. The General, who had earned his tough reputation, as an Indian fighter in many conflicts with Native Americans, was determined to confront the phenomenon and either expose it as a hoax or send the spirit away.

Therefore, before visiting the bell witch cave, we decided to make the Hermitage our first stop. Nestled comfortably along the banks of the Cumberland River, Hermitage, Tennessee is located about 15 minutes from downtown Nashville and is the location of President Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage. Construction began in 1819 and was completed in 1821 by skilled carpenters and masons from the local area, the original section of the Hermitage mansion was a brick Federal-style house.

We ate lunch at Café Monell’s, which is located on the plantations grounds. There were so many delicious items to choose from such as Italian sausage sandwiches, hamburgers, hotdogs, and banana pudding with caramel sauce to homemade cakes.

Special Tourist Attraction

On the way back to the campsite, we decided to head to the Bell Witch cave. We stopped for gas and while we were there, I had a chance to strike up a conversation with the young man working at the station.

“Why you wanna go there for? Ain’t nothing to see, they don’t let tourist get anywhere near the old Bell farm anymore. You can go the cave, but that’s not where the action is,” said Beason Lane.

We found the Bell Witch Cave by turning right after the small Amoco station and taking Eden Road until we saw the sign for the cave. Admission to the cave was only $7 per person and in my opinion; it is well worth the cost.

Once we arrived at the cave, we began taking a few pictures. While I was taking the pictures, I noticed a group of young children hanging around the ticket office. One of the little girls asked me “What are you taking pictures for, Lady?”

I told her that I was a reporter and that I was looking for the Bell Witch. She laughed and replied, “Everyone knows all you gotta do is go in your bathroom at night, turn off the lights and face the mirror and say, I do not believe in the Bell Witch thirteen times and then she will appear. But, I don’t know why you wanta to do that though, everyone knows that you don’t wanta go around poking fun at old Kate Batts, nice Lady."

Kate Batts was an old angry unfriendly neighbor of John Bell who believed that she had been cheated and treated unfairly by Bell in a land purchase. On her deathbed, she swore that she would haunt John Bell and his descendents until she was satisfied for the wrong that had been done to her.

Once in the cave, it pretty much seems like any other cave. The first thing that I noticed was an unusual rock formation on the cave wall. When you look at the formation, you notice that it looks a lot like a silhouette of a Halloween witch. The further we proceeded down the passageway of the cave; I noticed that the temperature seemed to be getting cooler and cooler. It is definitely a must see experience.

Whatever your interest, I feel that Tennessee has something for everyone. From the amid rolling hills, mountain streams, river cities and world-renowned attractions. No wonder folks call Tennessee the world's most amazing stage!

Favorite Weekend Getaway

My favorite weekend getaway is without a doubt, America's oldest and most haunted city, St. Augustine. Its unique and often-turbulent history has spawned more than four hundred years' worth of shadowy figures and is most certainly a city worth seeing. According to local legend, there are numerous ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

Every time that I go, I try to stay at the St. Francis Inn Bed & Breakfast; which is the oldest operated inn in St. Augustine since 1791. It is rich in old world charm and modern comforts. Some of the Inn's amenities include a swimming pool, hot coffee and tea served all day as well as a breakfast and complimentary bicycles for touring the historic downtown Saint Augustine.

The last time that I went, I had to make sure that I went on a ghost tour. I took the paranormal investigation tour. This one is a little different, not only do you get to visit several of the city’s most haunted locations you also get to take part in a real paranormal investigation.

"All of the ghost stories are true. We don't have to make any of it up,” said Jesse Brewer, 24.

The city has a variety of endless fun, from sightseeing, ghost tours, shopping, to horse and buggy rides.

Travel Tidbits

For more information about the Bell Witch legend: http://www.prairieghosts.com/b-cave.html

For more information about the Bell Witch cave:
http://www.bellwitchcave.com/

For more information about the Hermitage:
http://www.thehermitage.com/


For more information about the St. Francis Inn:
http://www.stfrancisinn.com/

For more information about the St. Augustine Ghost Tours:
http://www.haunted-st-augustine.com/
For more information about St. Augustine travel:
http://www.thecollegepress.com/articles.php?act=show&art_id=697


For more information about the Bell Witch investigation:
http://www.calder.net/jpiazza/2004-04-08-bell-witch.php


Red River Valley Campground and Canoe
8002 HIGHWAY 41 North
ADAMS, TN 37010
(615) 696-2768

If you have any interesting stories about Kate Batts please email them to
judyjoines@yahoo.com

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