Has ‘Bell Witch’ Moved to Murfreesboro?!?
by Dan Whittle
Initially, the family currently living in a historic Murfreesboro home that
reportedly has a “spirit” residing there, was reluctant to discuss the
Finally, after encouragement from a mutual friend, the family
consented for a reporter/photographer to come for interviews and
Drama about this particular potential ghost sighting had been building
since one of the most respected names in Rutherford County shared
that he had witnessed something “very unusual” there.
As I pulled my vehicle on the property, when stopping the engine,
I verbalized a prayer. Don’t laugh, I always “pray” before entering
dwellings and caves where ghosts are reputed to inhabit.
“I have experienced this spirit,” testified former Rutherford County
Sheriff Truman Jones. “It’s not a visual thing, it’s a smell … a very strong
pungent smell. And it’s real.”
Multiple published paranormal journals indicate that ghosts not only
travel, they can appear in multiple locations at the same time. Upon
further reading, you’ll understand the pertinence of this question.
Finally, it was time for the host family to conduct a tour of the beautiful
old home that was constructed around America’s Civil War period.
As the investigative team moved through the first floor of the historic
dwelling with brick walls that measure a foot in thickness, I asked
homeowner Gordon Bell where the spirit phenomena most often takes
“Here on the landing, at the foot of the stairs,” Bell responded. “That’s
where the most manifestations occur. We’ve lived here 17 years now,
and the manifestations began then.”
With that information, I focused my trusty D-50 Nikon with a 55/300
telephoto lens on the stairs, and triggered the camera with its small
During my 50-year newspapering career including my current wildlife
photography hobby, I’ve taken thousands upon thousands of pictures.
At this point, nothing unusual or paranormal had manifested. We’ll deal
with this later in this spooky forum.
In addition to unusual happenings, history also resides in this home.
Upon climbing the stairs, it was there Mr. Bell shared that he has a
chest of drawers that once belonged to John Bell … but not the ghost-
haunted John Bell of Adams, Tenn.
“This artifact belonged to Mr. John Bell, who ran against President
Abraham Lincoln in 1860,” Mr. Bell reported. “He ended up marrying a
lady who was a relative to the historic Maney family of Murfreesboro.
Do spirits travel?
Has spirit Kate, of Bell Witch Cave notoriety, travelled through multiple
counties and centuries now to the south, from Robertson to Rutherford
County to reside with this branch of the Bell family?
“I think its Kate,” Truman Jones added as we arrived on second floor.
“We don’t believe it to be Kate,” home owner Bell confirmed. “But we
can’t account for the phenomena either.”
“Most of the time, when walking up the stairs, you smell nothing,” he
added. “But, sometimes within minutes, when walking back down the
stairs, the odorous smell will be there … always very strong on or near
“Have outsiders acknowledged the phenomena?” Bell was asked.
“We were having some renovation work done a few years ago, when
the foreman called me, saying they had possibly hit a natural gas line or
something, because of an odor,” Bell answered.
“I came home, and there were no gas lines to be found,” Bell described.
“It was that strange odor that comes out from time-to-time.”
The family reports the odor appears more frequently when they begin
cleaning and preparing to have guests in the homes.
“The phenomena increases in frequency when we begin changing
things around in the house, and especially when we have guests,” Bell
Former Sheriff Jones, who has the popular “The Truman (talk) Show”
on WGNS Radio since his retirement from law enforcement, gave this
account of experiencing the odor: “Jackie and I, along with friends,
were recently invited to dinner with Sara and Gordon, and that’s when
we experienced this very pungent and strong smell.”
Back to the accompanying photograph shown at the top of this
account: I was at Walgreens the next day, printing pictures when I was
startled to see a very unusual, unexplainable form in the shot I’d taken
at the foot of the stairs at the Bell house.
My Nikon has never malfunctioned. I have one of the best lens money
can buy. In all my years of news photography, I’ve never had this type
of image manifest itself in any of my cameras.
Most intriguing to me, is the vision of “vapor” in the left edge of the
What are we seeing in the photograph? I have no answer, but I can
verify the photograph has not been altered in any way.
For those not familiar with Robertson County’s Bell Witch: The legend
goes back to the early 1800s, when North Carolina farmer John Bell
moved his family to Tennessee where he had a 320-acre farm.
In 1817, some of Bell’s family began seeing unusual visions, and
hearing knocking sounds at night on doors and outside walls of their
residence. After a year or more, John Bell finally shared the unusual
happenings to a neighbor, and from there word spread and eventually
someone advised John Bell the unusual occurrences were coming from
a deceased woman named Kate Batts.
Thus, the legend of Bell Witch Kate was born. Paranormal experts have
published reports, indicating Kate haunted John Bell’s house, with
the intent of killing John Bell, and keeping his daughter, Betsy, from
marrying a neighbor boy named Joshua.
Kate reportedly haunted the Bell family almost daily, including episodes
where Betsy’s hair would be painfully pulled and tugged on. John Bell
lived until 1820, when Kate reportedly poisoned him.
Word of Kate’s shenanigans began spreading throughout Tennessee,
and crowds of people began gathering at John Bell’s farm and nearby
cave, now known as the Bell Witch Cave.
Today, a Bell Witch industry has developed that includes multiple
movies, videos and books circulating throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Has Kate, or a kindred spirit, taken up residence at this Bell family’s
residence in Rutherford County?
Mark RyderTN License Number
Address630 W. Burton St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
Office HoursOpen 7 Days A Week