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Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Bell Witch: A Revised Introduction

I found yet another book on the Bell Witch the other day - the one on which the movie, American Haunting, was based - and in the introduction, the author notes that while many authors refer to the case as being “world-famous,” it is not as well-known outside the area as those writers claimed. This had never really occurred to me, since the concepts involved have been drawn upon by just about every pop-culture poltergeist-based work I can think of.

Poltergeist used the whole Indian burial ground concept; King Diamond (who is not even American) has made at least 3-4 albums based on the case; parts of the account can be found throughout several books on American history (usually in relation to Andrew Jackson’s encounter); and so on. But this doesn’t make the case “world famous.” Of course, being born and raised in Tennessee, I have always heard of the case and, as the author said, a lot of writers who have covered the events have said it was world famous, so I guess it was somewhere between an assumption and misinformation that led me to simply accept this was the case.

Being better-informed now, I suppose I need to go back and restate the general story so that everyone has some idea why this whole thing is so important. I also realize that a cursory history of Tennessee is in order for you to get a good understanding of all the concepts involved - particularly the Indians, Red River, and so forth.

Of course, whether world-famous or not, the case has gotten ample coverage by many better writers and researchers, but the facts remain that many of them either distorted accounts or downplayed them for various reasons; some people fictionalized certain facets of the story in order to sensationalize them, while others tried desperately to “explain-away” the phenomena so as to remain “trustworthy.”

My intentions are to get as much of the story correct as I can, working from the various sources on the topic itself, along with the myriad local history resources I have at my disposal, being in the area. This is especially important in this time and age, as so many people became interested in Genealogy recently, so a lot of other “independent researchers” have done much of the important work for me.

Suffice it to say, the Bells, the Gardners, Adams, TN, the Red River, and many of the other facts involved can be readily verified. And regardless of what parts of the story have been sensationalized or fictionalized, a thorough reading of the available materials is going to give me a very good idea as to what exactly happened. But I’m not fooling myself; between the Bells’ and neighbors’ reluctance to discuss the subject, the many years that have passed since it happened, and the facts having become occluded by their passing into folklore and campfire stories, we will never know exactly what happened in those terrible years.

But being so close to the location of this historical, and truly Supernatural, event, I would be remiss not to take advantage of this opportunity to delve into one of the most celebrated hauntings of all time.

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