Despite her name, the Bell Witch of Tennessee was not a witch, but a ghost that haunted the Bell family in the 1800s.
Legend has it that the Bell family, including John Bell and his wife and children, moved from North Carolina to Red River, Tennessee (which later became the town of Adams).
One day, when John Bell was out in the corn fields, he spotted a strange creature, part rabbit, part dog, and attempted to shoot it. But he didn't seem to hit it, and it simply disappeared. He did not mention it, nor even thought of it, at least until that night, when they heard strange noises coming from outside, some sort of beating sound.
Night after night the sounds returned, each time with greater frequency, and John and his sons would rush outside, but always saw nothing there. For weeks afterwards, the children would wake up every night, frightened by what they claimed were rats chewing their bedposts. Soon after, they claimed that their sheets and pillows were being ripped away from them and thrown to the floor by some invisible being.
Then the voices started, too soft and weak at first to be understood, but sounding like an old woman singing.
Their daughter, Betsy, became the main victim of the entity, who would rip her hair and slap her so hard, it left red welts on her body.
The encounters grew to the point that John Bell, despite having his family swear to never tell anyone about it, decided to confide his trouble to his neighbor, James Johnston. James and his wife decided to spend a night over at the Bell's, and were treated in the same terrifying manner by the ghost, being repeatedly slapped and their sheets ripped off. Finally James exclaimed "In the name of the Lord, who are you and what do you want?" There was no reply from the ghost, but the rest of the night was spent peacefully.
Overtime, the voice grew stronger, clearly carrying intelligent conversation, quoting scripture, singing, and even quoted two sermons being thirteen miles away, at the same time in the same day, accurate word for word.