once allegedly “checked on” Jesse Belland
told Lucy Bell
that he had returned safely from a business
trip and was at his home reading a book. Upon
visiting his parents and siblings the next morning, he remarked that his front
door mysteriously opened and shut as he read a book the night before. It was Jesse Bell’s wife, Martha, whom Kate gave a pair of black
stockings as a “gift” and requested that she be buried in them.
eldest of John and Lucy Bell’s children, Jesse Bell
was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, where he spent his early childhood
before moving to Tennessee. He
joined the Tennessee Militia
in 1814, and fought in the Creek Indian Warand the battles of Horseshoe
NewOrleans under then Major General Andrew Jackson.
married Martha Gunn, daughter of the
Reverend Thomas Gunn, in September of 1817.
Their family, which ultimately consisted of nine children, lived in
Robertson County, Tennessee until the 1837-1842 period, when they moved to
Panola County, Mississippi.
developed farmland in the present-day community of Eureka, about seven miles
east of Batesville, Mississippi. Jesse
and Martha Bell’s first child, John Thomas Bell, was the patriarch of the
Mississippi Bell Witch legend. Their
third child, Sarah Elizabeth Bell, married her first cousin, Jesse Bell Porter,
who was the son of Alexand
Jesse Bell died in 1843 while visiting friends in Christian County,
Kentucky near the present-day town of Hopkinsville. His place of burial is unknown; however, there exists a
gravestone in a Hopkinsvillecemetery that bears the faint
inscription, “Bell,” and lists 1843 as the date of death.
wife, Martha Gunn Bell, died in 1881 and is buried in Panola County,
Mississippi. It is not known
whether she was buried in the black stockings as Kate had requested.