Bell, Jr. was Kate’s harshest critic,
by far. While others around the community and in the Bell household
seemed terrified by Kate’s presence, John Jr. was never at a loss for words.
He yelled, cursed, and challenged her, consistently maintaining that he
knew what she was and would never back down from her.
Kate took notice of his boldness, often remarking that he was a very
intelligent man of whom she held the utmost respect.
was with John Bell, Jr. whom Kate intelligently debated and shared her
predictions of major world events during her 1828 return-visit to the Bell farm.
It is also believed that John, Jr. was the first person Kate visited upon returning in 1828, and the person to
whom she bade her last farewell.
his later years, John Bell, Jr. spent two days describing in meticulous detail
his private conversations with Kate, as his son, Dr. Joel Thomas
Bell, listened and took notes.
The younger Bell later shared this information his son, Dr. Charles
Bailey Bell, who included much of it in his book, “The Bell Witch -- A
Mysterious Spirit,” published in 1934.
Recent findings indicate that these conversations might have been a hoax,
the reasons for which will be discussed in a future Bell
Witch book by Pat Fitzhugh.
Bell, Jr. spent his early childhood in Halifax County, North Carolina
before moving to Tennessee with his family in the winter of 1804. He later joined the Tennessee Militia and, along with his brothers Jesse and
Drewry, fought in the battles of Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans under Major General Andrew Jackson.
1815, John Jr. and Drewry, along with Alex Gunn, used flatboats to carry goods from nearby Port Royal to the southern markets of Natchez and New Orleans. They sold scrap wood from their boats to finance their trip
home along the Natchez Trace.
Bell, Jr. married Elizabeth Gunn in November of 1828 and built a house just south of the original Bell home. They raised six children and amassed over 600 acres of land.
In addition to being a successful farmer, he also
served as a magistrate for several