04 October 2012

Who Believes in the Bell Witch?

This month at BTV in honor of spooky October, many of us will be talking about ghost stories and local haunted house tales. I live in Tennessee, and one of the most prominent Tennessee Tales of Terror is the story of the Bell Witch. In fact, the Bell Witch cave is only a couple miles from the house of a crit partner of mine, though neither of us have ever been.

Growing up, the main thing I knew about the Bell Witch was that if you went into the bathroom after dark, closed your eyes, chanted, "I believe in the Bell Witch" 3 or 10 or 13 times, and then opened your eyes, you would see her in the mirror. Right there, scary as any retinal adjustment to a change in illumination *heh*. I don't think I ever made it to 13 times.

The legend itself doesn't appear to stem from some horrific witch-burning incident or ax murdering psycho, as so many haunting tales do. No, it was some ticked off neighbor lady named Kate who took offense to the Bell family and poltergeisted them (in particular the dad and one of the girls) for a number of years.

Naturally my writer's mind wanted to make sense of it (She had an affair with the dad! The girl was engaged to her half-brother, unbeknownst to her!), which apparently isn't a rare reaction, as a number of movies, books and stories revolve around the legend. The About.com page suggests the girl's teacher was in love with her and wanted to scare off her fiance, who did eventually leave, and the girl ended up married to the teacher.

According to the official website, tales of the Bell Witch stretch back to 1817. According to the Wiki, movies it inspired include The Bell Witch Haunting, The Bell Witch, An American Haunting and the Blair Witch Project. I don't think I've ever seen any of those, either, since I'm not a huge fan of horror. Nor have I heard the "2 piece doom band" with the name Bell Witch: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bell-Witch/136264673108884  (I know, right??) Also tons of books and such at Amazon, which are too numerous to list.

You can find out more about the Bell Witch at the official site: http://www.bellwitchcave.com/

Here's another webpage dedicated to the Bell Witch by author/historician Pat Fitzhugh, who's also written books about the legend: http://www.bellwitch.org/home.htm

Wiki Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Witch

For those of you who aren't wholesale believers in ghosts, here's a skeptical review of the legend: http://mtskeptics.homestead.com/BellWitch.html

And if you're a fan in general, there's a fan site: http://www.bellwitchfansite.com/ which claims it has exclusive pictures and videos, woohoo!

Have you ever been inspired by local haunting tales to write a story?

Jody Wallace and Meankitty
Making the Internet Cattier Since 1999
http://www.meankitty.com * http://www.jodywallace.com
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