Adams, Tennessee has been known for ages to exhibit the strangeness of the south’s paranormal culture. It’s a small town, home to less than 700 people, and has one of the quirkiest and strangest stories from the past. There are some that say you still hear the sounds of their famed poltergeist, late at night on the wind, while others stand staunchly against all that foolishness. Have you visited – would you?
The town of Adams, Tennessee has long been lauded for its ties to the paranormal haunting of the Bell family, back in the early 1800s. It’s a story that has come to represent the eerie underbelly of our pretty state, giving our communities a sense of scariness.
The Bell family moved from North Carolina to Tennessee in search of a place to settle in the early 19th century. The state of Tennessee was still wildly uninhabited, making it perfect for families that were looking for a place to start over and call their own.
It was after they had become fairly settled on the farm that the Bells began to notice strange animals around their property. One of their sons claimed they saw a giant turkey-like creature. John himself saw an animal that seemed to be a hybrid of a dog or a wolf. They began to hear strange animalistic sounds outside the house.
One of the scariest early sightings came from Betsy, who said she saw a woman, dead, hanging from one of the trees at the periphery of the farm. She ran back to the house, but when she turned to look over her shoulder, there was nothing there.
The sightings were just the beginning. Knocking sounds began to infiltrate the house, then odd drafts and the sound of rats in the bedroom. Some of the children said their blankets were being pulled off of their beds and they were scared of the chains they heard being dragged across the floor. Young Betsy woke up with red welts and dark bruises all over her body, and she became a target of supernatural beatings over the next couple of months.
John, the patriarch of the family, was soon unable to eat. His mouth would swell, his tongue unable to help push food down his esophagus. Mastication became almost impossible. Voices would tell him to end his life, that he wasn’t worth living, it should all be over. The brunt of the psychological terror dovetailed terrifyingly with the physicality of the specter.
Stories of the Bell farm spread like veritable wildfire. Hundreds of folks made the trek out to Tennessee, shocked at they stories they heard. Which, of course, makes sense. The spirit called itself “Kate,” and soon became quite outspoken with its disembodied, feminine voice.
Even Andrew Jackson decided to make a visit to the Bell farm, later stating he could never be convinced to visit again. As the story goes, he travelled up from the Nashville area with the usual security posse. It was just outside the farm that their wagon wheels stuck hard, completely unable to move. Then, Kate spoke up.
She welcomed them to her farm and expressed that she was looking forward to seeing them that evening. Once the disembodied voice stopped talking, the wheels became unstuck and they journeyed on to the farm. There are many rumors and legends about what happened during their evening at the farm, but they all hinge on one thing: intense terror.
John Bell did not live past the vicious period of hauntings. No, the issue with his mouth grew steadily worse until he was bedridden. This was the kiss of death for any settler, especially those who were fairly isolated in the rural Tennessee wilderness.
His daughter Betsy found a vial of dark liquid hidden in the house and it didn’t take long for Kate to admit using it on John. Betsy was horrified, unsure of what the vial contained. She tried feeding a drop to the cat, who promptly died. John followed not long after.
We don’t want to give Kate a COMPLETELY bad rap, though. It’s said that when Lucy Bell, the matriarch of the family, came down with a severe lung infection it was Kate who gave her the strange solution: grapes and hazelnuts.
The Bell family faded from history after the bruise of their hauntings faded. You still hear stories about old Kate though, up there in Adams. You hear stories of her unreasonable anger towards men, her hatred of young Betsy and strange reaction to Lucy. You hear stories of her past heartache on the tour of the cave and the farm, each of which you can visit on your own. There are many stories and legends that surround the Bell farm, some that contradict others, extensive stories with strange endings. What you believe is ultimately up to you – so you may want to visit the farm for yourself. Good thing you won’t be staying the night…you may never get rid of Kate. The town of Adams hasn’t.