The Bell Witch was, and is still, a great scapegoat. Every circumstance out of the regular order of things is attributed to the witch. It has not been long since a man claiming to be the witch was waylaid and murdered by two men who were cleared, on the plea that the murdered man had bewitched them. Ingram appended a date of or to the bloodshed, but connected the Rawls recollection with the death of Smith:.
Smith came into the community a stranger, and was employed by Mr. Fletcher, where Clinard and Burgess were also engaged on the farm. Smith professed to be something of a wizard, or rather boasted of his power to hypnotize and lay spells on people, subjecting any one who came under his influence to his will, and it was reported that he claimed to have derived this power from the mantle of the Bell Witch.
However, the writer interviewed Hon. John F. House , who was council for the defense, on the subject, who says that no such evidence was produced in the trial, but that the lawyers handled the Bell Witch affair for all that it was worth in the defense of their clients, presenting the analogy or similarity of circumstances with good effect on the jury. On April 24, an article was published regarding a ' haunted house ' in Springfield, Tennessee where knocking underneath the floor was heard.
It is an actual fact that several hundred intelligent people of Springfield and vicinity have been so excited over the noise as to go night after night to listen to it About thirty years ago Robertson county had a sensation similar to this known as the "Bell Witch," and people came from all parts of the country, even as far as New York, to hear or see her. The Springfield floor knocking occurred at the residence of John W. Nuckolls, a prominent physician. Nuckolls was recently married to Laura Hopkins Jones, a union opposed by her family.
The phenomenon created a domestic disturbance between the couple, as a local carpenter, Gill Walling, accused Laura Nuckolls of creating the noise with an iron ball attached to a rubber belt hidden under her clothes. Robertson County historian Yolanda Reid states, "they came to the conclusion that the wife was tying it into the bottom of her skirt to make the sounds, nobody ever proved it.
That August, John Nuckolls retrieved his infant child from his wife, running through town with his estranged wife following in anguish. Afterward the child was returned to Laura Nuckolls who was living with her father, Asa Hopkins. John Nuckolls, in February , confronted Laura's father, over his desire to see the child, and threatened his father-in-law's life.
During the argument, the subject of 'ghosts' between the men was reported by an eyewitness as Nuckolls attempted to shoot Hopkins but was restrained. Hopkins, traveled from Nashville and shot John W. Nuckolls with a double-barreled shotgun , causing his death. The circumstances of the shooting were contested and S. Hopkins was acquitted of murder. Cross cites a column from the Nashville Banner where it mentions the paper had sent a reporter to Robertson County in the s, John C. Cooke, to investigate reports of the possible reemergence of the Bell Witch phenomenon.
A several page account of the Bell Witch legend was included in a sketch of Robertson County and was reportedly written for Nashville's Centennial Exposition in The sketch was published in by the Tennessee Historical Society. The author of the sketch is unknown and the article is undated. Dates in the sketch end at The writer stated the source of the first portion of the narrative from "F. Miles, William Pride, W. Gooch, Ben. Batts, and many others. The witch could speak in several languages and would "set the dogs" on unsuspecting victims.
In the Centennial account, the Bell entity did not explicitly poison John Bell. At one time a vial of poison was found in the flue of the chimney, and being taken down, Dr. George B. Hopson gave one drop to a cat, causing its death in seven seconds. The witch claimed to have put the poison there for the purpose of killing Mr. Being asked how it was going to administer the poison, it said by pouring it into the dinner pot. It is remarkable that, although he enjoyed good health up to the time of this event, Mr.
Bell died within [ ] days after the vial was found, being in a stupor at the time of his death. From this time the people visited the house less frequently, although the witch would now and then be heard. In the Ingram account, attributed to Richard Williams Bell, John Bell was already suffering from an unknown affliction and bedridden for some time. John Bell's son, John Bell Jr. The family called for Dr.
Hopson, while the Bell Witch exclaimed she had fed the poison to John Bell. Alex Gunn and John Bell Jr. The Centennial sketch stated the witch could appear as a rabbit, bear or black dog , and imitate various animal sounds. The sketch described the entity as one of seven spirits with three names given by the author: Three Waters, Tynaperty, and Black Dog. In addition to Kate, the other members of the 'witch family' had the names of Blackdog, Mathematics, Cypocryphy, and Jerusalem.
Blackdog was described as the apparent leader of the group.
Goodspeed Brothers' History of Tennessee , recorded a short account of the legend that identified the spirit as female and stated that interest in the phenomenon was widespread in the region at the time. A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the "Bell Witch. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals.
The freaks it performed were wonderful, and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfiture of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary.
A volume might be written concerning the performances of this wonderful being, as they are now described by contemporaries and their descendants. That all this actually occurred will not be disputed, nor will a rational explanation be attempted. It is merely introduced as an example of superstition, strong in the minds of all but a few in those times, and not yet wholly extinct.
An article was published February 3, describing a series of events from Adam's Station, Tennessee. At dusk, January 27, , Mr. Hollaway reported watching two unknown women arrive at his home and dismount from their horses as he was feeding cattle. When he arrived at the house, the horses and women were gone. Hollaway's wife reported seeing the women in the yard as well. That week, Mr. Rowland attempted to place a sack of corn on his horse's back and it fell off.
He again attempted to place the sack of corn on the horse's back several more times, but each time the sack fell off. Joe Johnson arrived and held on to the sack as Mr. Rowland mounted his horse. They witnessed the sack floating away for 20 yards where it settled down at the fence. When the men went to retrieve the sack, a voice was heard, "You won't touch this sack anymore. The article reports that Mr. Johnson was visiting Buck Smith and were discussing a recent visitation of the ghost at his home. They heard a knocking at the door, and when they opened the door, the knocking began at another door.
They sat down and the dog began to fight with something invisible. Two minutes later, the door flew open and fire spread across the room blown by a cyclonic wind with the coals disappearing as they tried to put it out. That evening Mr.
Johnson started home on his horse and something jumped on the back grabbing his shoulder as he tried to restrain the horse. He felt it jump off as he neared his home and move in the leaves into the woods. Winters reported taking a peculiar bird while hunting with great difficulty. After he returned home, he opened the game-bag to discover the bird had disappeared and in place was a rabbit which then also disappeared.
While burning vegetation outdoors, Mr.
Rowland described a visit at 9 p. Rowland to follow him and dig at a large rock. The figure then disappeared. Rowland dug that night until exhaustion. He received help the next morning from Bill Burgess and Mr. Johnson and discovered something described as a "kettle turned bottom upward. The report concludes saying that many people were visiting to see the witch. The consequences of poor health, family tragedy and fire limited his continuing interest in the newspaper industry.
Barksdale, wrote of his friend and colleague:. We doubt exceedingly if there ever lived a man who performed as much self-sacrificing labor to further the interests of the community in which he lived. He became a citizen of Clarksville forty years ago and from that time practically until the day of his death his greatest concern was the advancement and welfare of his adopted town and county A man of true mold, he despised all deceit, trickery, and littleness, and with a courage which nothing could daunt, he laid on the journalistic lash unsparingly whenever he thought the occasion required.
Naturally, his was not a pathway strewn with roses — his was an aggressive nature, a fact which often brought him into serious collision with those with whom he took issue. Time, however, usually justified him in the positions which he assumed. The week of January 24, , Ingram was suffering from a "severe case of la grippe. Ingram subsequently traveled to Chicago in October , while editor of the Progress-Democrat , in an attempt to publish his manuscript, An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch. Titus of Clarksville would print the work. Titus stated the witch demonstrated with maniacal singing, laughter, prayers, moaning, clapping, and rattling of the roof.
The phenomena caused the printers to evacuate. Now, nearly seventy-five years having elapsed, the old members of the family who suffered the torments having all passed away, and the witch story still continues to be discussed as widely as the family name is known, under misconception of the facts, I have concluded that in justice to the memory of an honored ancestry, and to the public also whose minds have been abused in regard to the matter, it would be well to give the whole story to the World.
Allen Bell expressed the belief that his father's manuscript was written when he was 35 years old in He stated his father gave him the manuscript and family notes shortly before his death in Richard Williams Bell was roughly 6 to 10 years of age during the initial manifestations of the Bell Witch phenomenon and 17 at the occurrence of the spirit's return in The reported contributions of Richard Williams Bell, approximately 90 pages in length, are recorded in Chapter 8 of Ingram's work, entitled Our Family Trouble. According to Brian Dunning no one has ever seen this diary, and there is no evidence that it ever existed: "Conveniently, every person with firsthand knowledge of the Bell Witch hauntings was already dead when Ingram started his book; in fact, every person with secondhand knowledge was even dead.
Brooks explores the possibility that Ingram would have had an enhanced opportunity to modify the story by not returning the papers. Keith Cartwright of the University of North Florida compares Ingram's work with Uncle Remus folklore as recorded by Joel Chandler Harris and also as an expression of the psychological shame of slavery and Native American removal.
The slaves in the account are regarded as experts on the witch, with Uncle Zeke identifying the witch as, "dat Injun spirit Andrew Jackson was brought nearly to heel and the master, John Bell, was dead. The role of the trickster not played by the Br'er Rabbit but the witch-rabbit, the spirit's common animal form. The displaced, blacks, widows and girls, act as witness to a force polite society cannot comprehend. The witch, "appears as a catch-all for every remainder of resistant agency.
Among those who were alive during the haunting, Ingram conducted interviews with Ibby Gunn, born in , a daughter of Uncle Zeke and the sister-in-law of Dean, as well as Mahala Byrns Darden, born circa , daughter of James Byrns. Ibby Gunn shared some experiences of Dean including the creation of a witch ball made of hair by her sister Kate for her husband Dean, the use of which appeared to anger the entity. The chapter is a letter from Thomas L.
Yancey, an attorney in Clarksville, dated January Yancey explained that his grandfather, Whitmel Fort, was a witness to phenomena at the Bell homestead and Fort had related the story of Jackson's visit which was undated in the letter. Yancey described his grandfather's account as, "quite amusing to me. The Bell household was strained of resources from visitors and Jackson brought a wagon load of supplies with his men.
Nearing the Bell homestead, the wagon stopped and appeared fastened to its position despite considerable effort by Jackson's men to free it. Jackson exclaimed, "By the eternal, boys, it is the witch. Instead of camping out, the party stayed at the Bell home that evening. Among the Jackson party was a 'witch layer' who boasted of his supernatural exploits. Tiring of the bravado, Jackson whispered, "By the eternals, I do wish the thing would come, I want to see him run. The man's gun would not fire. The witch countered, "I'll teach you a lesson," and appeared to beat the man and led him out the door by his nose.
Jackson exclaimed, "By the eternal, boys, I never saw so much fun in all my life. This beats fighting the British. That morning Jackson's men chose to leave for home as they were apprehensive as to who was next. Paranormal investigator Benjamin Radford , as well as Brian Dunning, conclude that there is no evidence that Andrew Jackson visited the Bell family home.
During the years in question, Jackson's movements were well documented, and nowhere in history or his writings is there evidence of his knowledge of the Bell family. According to Dunning, "The Presidential election was notoriously malicious, and it seems hard to believe that his opponent would have overlooked the opportunity to drag him through the mud for having lost a fight to a witch.
watch Such legends, which may persist in a locale for generations, upon receiving a media treatment can spread far outside of the area where the legend originated. A prophecy was reported by May that the witch could return on the centennial of the Bell family arrival in Tennessee.
The Herald also stated the copyright for Ingram's work had passed to his son Tolbert who was working at The Denver Times. In the work, he recounted stories he stated were told to him by his great aunt Betsy later in her life. This included another account of Andrew Jackson's visit and of a boy trapped in the Bell Witch Cave and pulled out of the cave feet first by the witch.
Go back to where you came from. At first, Johnson was lost. I was shaking and afraid. No activity has been reported following renovations. Thanks for your comment Alana always appreciate any tips!
Bell also detailed a series of prophecies he stated were given to his ancestors in by the spirit, including a declaration the witch was set to return again in , years after her last visit to the Bell family. In , there were reports of quirky events. Louis Garrison, owner of the farm that included the Bell Witch Cave, heard unexplained noises coming from inside.
Bell descendants described the sound of something rubbing against a house, a paper like object that flew out the door and reentered through a side door, and faint music heard from a piano. The group were joking about the legend when they saw a figure of a woman sitting on top of the cliff over the cave causing many to flee.
The second report concluded with a weather report that the moon was barely noticeable that night. We counted in English on our way up. We mailed the package. On the way back down we counted in Spanish. This is just one of five instances since Donald Trump was elected president. It makes me feel like I belong nowhere. Some years ago, I was in a bar with a friend chatting in Arabic.
So I ignored him, got my beers and went back to my table. My best revenge is enjoying my time with my sister at our local bar. I am Iranian-America, a dual citizen by birth. I told him my family is from Mexico. Without skipping a beat, he began to insist that I had to go back to Mexico, even though I told him I was born in the U. He did not stop and went on spewing racist vitriol until I got off the bus. A couple months before the election when I was in a grocery store aisle, a man told me to go back to where I came from. I was reaching for chips and smiled at this man before he told me that.
He just stood there and looked at me. I told him that I was born here. I walked away as fast as I could.
All I could think about is how am I going to explain this to my kids. How do I prepare them for that? It is nauseating that the president of the United States agrees. I am from Puerto Rico, born and raised. I was taking the hotel elevator alone to meet my mom at breakfast. A man in the elevator asked if I was visiting the city and where I was visiting from. I had no response because honestly, I had no idea what had just happened! That trip was one of the first times visiting the mainland and I had never experienced racism so bluntly, let alone as a year-old. I am different from other people.
The unfortunate part is that some people see that as me being less than. I was told to go back to Israel at the foot of the Washington Monument. I finally just left the area. It shocked me, but more than anything I felt sorry for their families. They were older women who probably had grandchildren, and I worried about what those children were being taught. I grew up in Centereach, N. I am now a neurosurgeon. When I told her I was American, and my home was here, I faced an incredulous stare.
The white coat, Ivy League degrees and seven years of residency and fellowship garnered no kinship to these countrymen, who viewed me only through an anti-Semitic lens, declaring me an outsider. I am of Native American and Latino heritage and have been told to go back where I came from many times, even in a cemetery on Memorial Day — I am a Vietnam vet. When it happens, it makes me extremely sad that we still go through this after all we have done and suffered. I was so taken aback. I had two little kids with me. No one defended me. I am an Asian veteran from Hawaii. More recently, my church was serving a free lunch to seniors, and one woman said those words to me.
She apologized. I am a retired service member and a fifth-generation American. I still meet people who think anyone who can speak Spanish is a new arrival. As an Asian-American law professor who speaks on constitutional issues in the local and national media, I get that response in cowardly anonymous comments and emails. It still feels as raw as hearing it in the locker room in middle school.
All that matters to them is that my surname is in Spanish. I was adopted from Quito, Ecuador, when I was 4 months old. I became a citizen along with my adoption and am now 26 years old. I was once vacationing in Maine with my Irish-American family and we were in a rural area, helping a family friend move.
I was only 13 and it was my first experience with the uncomfortable realization that although we live in a country known for being a melting pot, I was different. I was in a state of shock and it made me feel embarrassed, naked, attacked. This is my home. I am an American citizen. My parents are white, and they adopted me from South Korea. As an international adoptee, I did not choose to come here, and with my family being white, I already felt like the odd duck.
The schoolyard taunts still haunt me. They wanted me ostracized and saw me as an outsider because of my race. I was adopted from Russia at a young age. Once, I took the Greyhound bus and Border Patrol came through. Everything was taken care of and I was able to go back on, and then I had someone comfort me. I feel hurt all the time. I want to love America, but it continually makes me sad that we are so willing to attack those who come for better lives.
I feel like a stranger in this country. I feel trapped here. I got up to say something, but my mom stopped me. She looked afraid and told me not to provoke them. We left shortly after. The man who pushed me told me to go back to my country. I hope that if anything came of this encounter, he did some research on the U.
Virgin Islands. I was born in Argentina and have been an American citizen since A couple of months ago, I was applying for a job at a home health agency in Miami and while filling out hundreds of pages of information, I commented to the secretary supervising the documentation how much easier this process was in Europe, and in particular in Norway, where I had just visited a few clinics.
When I was making a right turn, a man on the street who was upset at me for whatever reason told me go to back to my country. Both of us arrived in this country in one way or another, and both of us are from minority groups. In our family lineage, we have had family members fight in every war since the Civil War to this day. We are Americans — farmers, military service members, business owners and teachers.
I also had the pleasure of having the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in my front yard in Massachusetts while threatening to kill us. They did this because my little brother, who was 6 years old at the time, made friends with a boy at school who was the son of one of the K. Once in university in upstate New York, I was told to go back to where I come from.
I just said, I am. My family goes back 40, years here. Where are you from? I used to answer the questions or comments and quickly identify my ethnic background as Japanese, but now I make the interrogator work for the answer. Thus, the policy consequences of these assumptions are far greater and long lasting than hurt feelings. My husband and I have been told several times to go back to our country.
We are originally from Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the United States, making us American citizens. It makes me livid every time I hear it. I have gotten better with ignoring the comments, but I used to go into history lessons, or I would snap back and say I would leave when they left as well. Design and illustration by Shannon Lin. A note to readers who are not subscribers: This article from the Reader Center does not count toward your monthly free article limit. Follow the ReaderCenter on Twitter for more coverage highlighting your perspectives and experiences and for insight into how we work.
Lara Takenaga is a staff editor for the Reader Center. Log In. Supported by. The first time I was 12 the first time I heard that. This zombie star named Tycho was once a white dwarf, or the remnants of an exploding supernova. The dead star gobbled up too much mass from another nearby star and exploded again in what's called a Type Ia supernova. Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community space. Current page: Page 1. The hand might look like an X-ray from the doctor's office, but it is actually a cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded.
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