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The legend of the Bell Witch

Have you ever heard the tale of Miss Betsy Bell?
Updated: Sep. 14, 2018 at 9:12 PM CDT
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FORMERLY PANOLA COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - At first glance, this looks to be just another old, mostly neglected cemetery on a ridge top way out in the country.

There’s some newer head stones way up front, and even some relatively fresh flowers. So evidently, some people are buried here that folks alive today still remember.

Back in the older section of the cemetery are graves from the late 1800’s. A lot of the head stones have been vandalized. Some of the single slates broken in two, obelisks toppled from their bases.

In the midst of these older stones is an obviously newer stone, but it is for an old grave.

For a lady who lived to be 82 years old. Born in Robertson County, Tennessee in 1806.

Now, thanks to some kind folks from the historical societies in that part of the state, I know that Elizabeth Powell’s maiden name was Bell. There are a bunch of Bell’s buried around her.

And I also know that people didn’t call her Elizabeth, but Betsy. Betsy Bell. The name alone may ring a bell if you know anything about early unexplained events in Tennessee.

This Betsy Bell was a central figure in the infamous Bell Witch hauntings that took place in Adams, Tennessee from about 1817 until 1821.

The Bell family was supposed to have been subjected to the supernatural tormenting of Kate Batts in the forms of knockings on the walls, voices, and even physical torture, as with the case of Betsy, who was often punched and scratched and had her hair pulled.

Betsy married her former school teacher Richard Powell, and later in life when he died, she moved to what was then Panola County, Mississippi, to live with other members of the Bell family who had moved here. When she died in 1888, she was buried in the family plot on this forgotten hillside.

Well, almost forgotten.

Many, many years ago, someone stole her original headstone and took it home as a souvenir. It was replaced with this one. With the sentiment carved on the bottom, hoping all of Betsy’s afflictions are over.

The Bell Witch episode is well documented. Look it up online sometime.

And Betsy is finally at rest on a lonely hillside in Mississippi.

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