Ghost Stories and Tall Tales of the American South

The Bell Witch Cave


Ghost story based on the famous Bell Witch hauntings in Tennessee, this is the story of two kids who embark on a dangerous journey into the Bell Witch Cave. Written by Craig Dominey and Babs Bagriansky.

Liz was 16 years old and sitting right in the middle of what she called “Nowheresville, USA” – Adams, Tennessee. Why her parents thought she’d be happy spending the weekend here with her “country cousins” while they were gallivanting about in New York City on vacation was beyond human reason. “It’s a peaceful place to visit,” her parents had said. “It has beautiful, scenic farmland – very bucolic.”

Adams, Tennessee Farmland

More like bubonic, Liz thought, with a terminal disease of the drop dead dull.

Her country cousin Jimmy, also 16, was no help. He seemed to think dodging cowchips was an athletic event. Nashville was Liz’s home; Nashville was where things were happening. All her friends were off to Halloween parties and spooky movie marathons. “Child’s play,” her father had said. “Halloween was meant for the young ones to trick and treat – older, mature folks had more serious business.” Yeah, Liz thought, like seeing Broadway shows and dancing in Manhattan nightclubs.

Liz walked out on the porch and watched the sun set over the peaceful fields. Oh well, she thought, at least I brought my iPod. She put on her earbuds, pressed the play button – and the battery died. Liz ripped the earbuds out and sighed – wasn’t anything going to go right?

Country cousin Jimmy walked out and joined her on the porch. I might as well hang out with him, Liz thought. It’s better than talking to the plants – but not by much.

Liz turned to him and said, “So Jimmy, what do you do around here besides milk cows and bring in the crops?”

Jimmy shrugged, gazed out at the fields and answered with his lazy rural drawl – “Oh, I don’t know. Fishing, ball games. I like to read, watch TV…”

“Oh, come on. There must be something to do around here. What’s the coolest thing about Adams, Tennessee?”

Jimmy thought about that question a bit and said, “Well, we got the Bell Witch Cave.”

Now that sounds somewhat interesting, Liz thought. “Why’s it called the Bell Witch Cave?”

Jimmy seemed real reluctant to talk about it. “Cause they say it’s haunted,” he said.

Liz rolled her eyes – sometimes getting Jimmy to talk about things was like pulling eyeteeth. “Whoa, don’t stop there – come on, what’s the story? You ever been there? Did you ever see any ghosts?”

“Well, I’ve only been there once with some friends. It was kinda icky and muddy, and full of spiders and all.”

Liz was now really getting impatient. “Tell me about it, Jimmy! Come on!”

Jimmy sighed, sat down and told her the story:

“Well, a long time ago, there used to be this old farm out there. That’s where the Bell family used to live back in the 1800s. They were pretty successful farmers – had a nice house, slave quarters and all. They went to church every Sunday and all that, so everybody in town liked ’em.

But one day, they started getting haunted by this weird spirit. It started out looking like an old buzzard sitting out on the fence. Then it turned into this dog-like creature. Then they saw this mysterious old woman walking around in the orchard. Then one day, she just vanished into thin air.

But then she came back as a ghost. At night, they could hear her flyin’ ’round the house making these horrible sounds. She’d keep ’em up all night, knocking on doors and windows, making these sounds like wings flapping against the roof and animals fighting and scratching. Then she started getting physical – pulling the blankets off their beds, punching ’em, pinching ’em and pulling their hair.

Spooky Window

One day, she started talking to ’em. She’d make fun of ’em, argue with ’em about the Bible, sing these nasty drinkin’ songs. They asked her over and over again why she was bothering ’em. She told ’em lots of things, like she was the ghost of an Indian whose grave had been disturbed, or a dead settler who’d come back looking for buried treasure.

But most folks believe she was a witch conjured up by this crazy old woman named Kate Batts. Kate Batts lived next door to the Bells. And she hated the father, John Bell, ’cause he ripped her off in a slave deal one time. In fact, the witch said several times that she was gonna kill John Bell one day.

Not long after that, John Bell got real sick and was taken to bed. The next morning, they found him dead. The witch started laughing and said she’d poisoned him. Sure ‘nough, when they looked in the medicine cabinet, they saw that his medicine had been switched with a vial of poison.

The witch laughed and carried on all during John Bell’s funeral. Then she told everybody she was leaving, but would come back one day. No one heard from her again for a long time.

But some folks in town believe that the Bell Witch has come back. They say if you make fun of her, or tell folks you don’t believe in her, that bad things will happen to you. And some say you can hear her laughin’ in that cave on the old Bell property, just waiting to put a fright into anybody who dares to go in there.”

When Jimmy finished his story, he was certain that Liz would be scared to death. To his surprise, she was more excited than ever. Her eyes bulging, she squealed, “Let’s go!”

“What? Are you crazy?” said Jimmy. “Come on, it’d be fun!”

“I ain’t goin’ in there,” protested Jimmy. “It ain’t safe. It’s muddy and dark and full of spiders…”

“Oh, come on,” interrupted Liz. “I’m not supposed to go out after dark without permission. And it’s on private property.”

“We’ll sneak the car out.” Jimmy was running out of excuses.

“It’s too far to go,” he said.

Liz gave him a teasing smirk. “Oh, I see,” she said, “you’re chicken, aren’t you? Squawk! Squawk! The country boy’s a chicken! The country boy’s a scaredy cat!”

Well, that did it – Jimmy wasn’t about to be called a chicken by no girl, especially his holier-than-thou, citified cousin. Later that night, when his parents fell asleep, Jimmy grabbed the flashlight and the car keys, and Liz taught him how to sneak a car out in the middle of the night. They quietly pushed the car out of the drive, then down the road a bit and – VAROOM! – started the engine away from the house.

Bell Witch Cave Gate

When they got near the cave property, Jimmy pulled over, killed the engine and headlights, and quietly got out of the car. As they crept down the road, Jimmy was relieved to see that the current landowners’ farmhouse was dark and quiet. Jimmy and Liz hid themselves in the shadows away from the bright moonlight and snuck around the house.

They slowly made their way across the overgrown field until they finally saw it – a gaping, black hole yawning ominously out of the side of a steep rocky bluff. As they climbed up the slope toward it, Jimmy held back a bit, a twinge of fear shooting through his body. But Liz grabbed the flashlight and barreled inside more excited than ever. Jimmy sighed, took a deep breath, and entered slowly behind her.

Liz and Jimmy squeezed their way down the tight, dark, winding tunnel. In the dim flashlight beam, they could see eerie rock formations hanging from the ceiling and jutting out of the floor. Water was dripping everywhere, and their feet made squishing sounds as they moved through the muddy floor. Somewhere in the dark depths, they could hear rocks plopping, along with strange sucking sounds – but no witches laughing or moaning.

Bell Witch Cave

Liz kept moving rapidly forward with Jimmy tailing behind until they reached a tiny crack between two massive, fallen boulders. Liz squeezed her skinny body through, but Jimmy, who had a few pounds on her, couldn’t fit. Liz shined her flashlight around and mockingly called out into the darkness, “Here we are, you ol’ Bell Witch! Come on out and show yourself! Oooooooooo.”

Hearing no reply, Liz turned back toward her cousin and grinned. “Oh, well. Guess she’s out painting the town, Jimmy.”

“I can’t get through those rocks,” he said. “C’mon, let’s get outta here. There’s nothin’ back there worth seein’.”

“I want to keep going,” answered Liz from the other side. “Just wait for me here.”

“You can’t go back there by yourself. You ain’t ever been in a cave before. It could be dangerous.”

Bell Witch Cave

“I didn’t come all the way out here to stay for five minutes,” said Liz. “Just wait for me. I’ll be back in a little while.”

“No,” barked Jimmy. “I’m responsible for you!”

Liz hesitated a moment, then said in a mocking tone, “Well, if you can’t get through these rocks, I guess you can’t stop me now, can you?”

Now Jimmy was really getting tired of this cocky cousin of his. He had risked his neck sneaking out, going on private property, and all just to prove he wasn’t scared for some stupid reason. But what he didn’t want Liz to know was that he really was getting scared.

“I’ll wait for you outside,” Jimmy said gruffly as he turned and walked back in a huff.

Liz laughed after him and continued into the cave. As she crept further down the dark tunnel, she saw more strange rock formations in beautiful colors and shapes. To her, the cave was hypnotizing and otherworldly, unlike anything she had ever seen before. She wandered further and further down the tunnel in a trance, losing track of direction and time, always wondering what was beyond the next turn.

As she continued on, the ceiling pressed down lower and lower, forcing her to crawl on her knees. Suddenly, the passage ended in a tiny crawl space, leading on to who-knows-what. Now totally hypnotized by the cave, Liz couldn’t stop herself from continuing on. She wiggled into the tiny crawl space head first, pushing herself a little more and a little more until…

She got stuck.

Bell Witch Cave Tunnel

As she tried to wiggle herself free, rocks and gravel fell around her, wedging her in even tighter. She called out for Jimmy, certain he was still somewhere near by, but he didn’t answer. Stupid boy, she thought. Then, of all the darn things, the flashlight went out, plunging her into total darkness.

Liz’s could hear her heart pounding in her chest. “Be calm,” she said to herself, “just be calm and try to move real slow.” But she was totally stuck in the crawl space, with escape all but impossible. She was really getting scared now.

Then, from somewhere deep in the cave, she heard eerie sounds moving toward her. At first, they sounded like scratching noises, then like someone gasping for air. As the sounds got louder, she thought she heard a scraping sound, like feet dragging on the cave floor.

Liz called out in the direction of the noises: “Jimmy, I’m stuck. Pull me out of here, come on.”

There was no answer except for the scraping, gasping sounds moving closer and closer.

“Jimmy come on, quit playing games. Fun’s over.”

There was still no answer.

Liz’s blood was running cold. “Jimmy, I said, get me out of here!”

The eerie sounds kept getting louder and louder as they got closer and closer until Liz could swear they were right on top of her.

Then they suddenly stopped, filling the room with horrifying silence. “Jimmy?” whispered Liz.

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Liz screamed as she felt two massive, cold, scaly, nonhuman hands grab her legs. They yanked her out of the passage like a cork out of a bottle and dragged her deep into the bowels of the cave. She could see nothing in the darkness as she was dragged away.

AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! she screamed.

A few minutes later, the hands suddenly let her go. Liz lifted her head, cleared the mud from her eyes and found herself lying at the mouth of the cave, the bright moon filling the entrance with its blessed light. Cousin Jimmy was there, staring down at her.

As Jimmy lifted Liz to her feet, she teetered unsteadily, trying to catch her breath. “It was you!” Liz gasped. “I knew it. You really had me there. I was sure a ghost had me.” She then smiled and patted Jimmy on the shoulder. “Thanks for pulling me out. That was a good one. You know, you’re not so bad after all.”

Jimmy just stared at her in disbelief, his face white as a sheet. “I…I didn’t pull you out,” he finally replied.

Bell Witch Cave Tunnel

They stared at each other for a moment. Then, from deep in the cave, they heard it – the horrible, cackling laughter of the Bell Witch as she floated back into the darkness. Liz and Jimmy ran back to the car as fast as two human beings could run. Jimmy gunned the engine, and they drove away like lightning, never looking back.

And even though the Bell Witch may return to that cave every now and then, Liz and Jimmy never did.

And that’s the story of The Bell Witch Cave.

  • THE END –

NEW: Storyteller Rona Leventhal tells her version of “The Bell Witch Cave.” You can buy her full CD “Into the Dark” on CDBaby.


Adams, TN

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Adams, TN 36.582267, -87.065556 Stories: The Bell Witch CaveBest known as the home of the famous Bell Witch hauntings. Many locals claim that the Bell Witch still roams the hills surrounding this tiny, once prosperous railroad town one mile south of the old Bell property.


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16 Responses to “The Bell Witch Cave”

Debbie Dunn:

Craig and Babs,
I enjoyed reading your story about the cave. Have you ever visited the Bell Witch Cave for real? The Kirby’s own it now and have a locked gate preventing people entering. Back when the Reed’s owned the cave years ago, I imagine that this story you wrote could have really happened.

Many years ago, a friend of mine entered the cave in the evening, intending to scare some football players and their girlfriends who planned to hold a party in the large front room of the cave. He hid in a small alcove. He planned to jump out at them to frighten them. He was the one who got the scare instead. Even though there was solid rock at his back and sides, two hands planted themselves on his shoulders. He was trapped. It was not until he quietly said out loud, “Kate, I don’t mean anybody any harm,” did the spirit let him go. Then the two hands were at his back, shoving him out of the alcove. He was on his feet and running out of that cave as fast as he could. He probably did startle the teens holding their party. In my book titled “The Bell Witch Unveiled At Last! The True Story Of A Poltergeist” written under my pen name of DJ Lyons, I include a picture of that man, now grown, demonstrating the tiny size of that alcove where he hid back when he was a teen himself. You and your readers can find out more details about my book and the one-woman show called “The Bell Witch Unveiled” that I perform as a professional storyteller. Just visit my website to get more details:

Have a great day,
Professional Storyteller Debbie Dunn aka DJ Lyons

Mary G.:

I have always wanted to visit the Bell Witch Cave. This Summer my husband and I finally made the trip to Robertson County Tenn. Adams is a very quiet place with a creepy past. Locals are friendly enough, but you always get the feeling that they know more than they are telling. Ms Kirby was a wonderful hostess and we had a lengthy conversation about the cave and the surrounding legend concerning the cave. I believe as she believes, that this phenomenon stared long before the John Bell family moved there. I believe the paranormal activity surrounding the cave is directly related to the Native American inhabitants long before the white man came along. If you havent made the trip do so soon. The cave is beginning to show its age in certain areas. It is perserved in it’s natural state in order to stay on a historic national directory of historic sites.


Twas Awesome


Did anyone else see faces in the rocks?


Why BELL witch?????


I see the face as well. Wicked. @ Alycia: I assume it’s because the property was owned by the Bell family during the first recorded incidents. I agree with Mary G., although I’ve never conversed with the current owners, that the spirit was probably around long before that time. Many events like this are recorded throughout North America and having to do with important places in Native American history. The Southwest is full of stories like these, surrounding the little-known Anasazi Indians which populated the area loosely around 800 – 1200 A.D. before suddenly all but disappearing.


the Bell family’s history according to Jimmy sounded almost exactly like from the movie An american Haunting that claimed it was the first documented story about a poltergeist


Our story was written before An American Haunting came out, and the historical info was taken from books on the Bell story.

eh ku:

this story is good for me,…….


this story is really good

Cowboy and Vampire:

Thanks for the spooky read!


I very much enjoyed your story! Currently I reside in Rutherford County, Tennessee & love hearing about & reading about the Bell Witch. Coincidently, I married into a ‘Bell’ family & my father-in-law has mentioned before that he is connected with the Bell family that the witch harassed for so long. I’m not sure if he is telling the truth or just trying to get me all excited over nothing. The reason he stated such is because I have more than once expressed my interest in going to visit whatever is left for the public to visit of the Bell Witch Cave. The story has always interested me & my imagination, more so when my father-in-law mentioned such relations. I have yet to visit or go near the Bell Witch area, but have seen the signs on the interstate on trips to & from my inlaws’ home in Cottontown, TN. One day I hope to see what is left of the cave &/or property, if possible, to fulfill my interest. Again, Thank You for your stories.


i love the bell witch


Nice story , Im from South Africa and enjoy reading these old ghost stories .
I would hope to oneday visit these places in your country .
Please share other cave stories if you can with the links.


[TN] Bell Witch – references and resources – Encounter Ghosts:

[…] Road features a *Bell Witch ghost story, based on an actual event. Also check their detailed *history of the Bell Witch, with excellent […]


I dont know i watch the true story everyday and it dont scare me

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