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John Bell, Jr. (1793-1862)


John Bell, Jr.John Bell, Jr. was Kateís harshest critic by far.  While others around the community and in the Bell household seemed terrified by Kateís 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.

It 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.

In 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, ďThe Bell Witch -- A Mysterious Spirit,Ē published in 1934. [1]  Recent findings indicate that these conversations might have been a hoax, the reasons for which will be discussed in a future update to the Bell Witch Web Site.

John 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 fought in the battles of Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans, along with his brothers, Jesse and Drewry, under the leadership of then Major General Andrew Jackson. [2]

In 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.

John 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 served as a magistrate for several years.


The flat gravestone in the foreground marks the grave of John Bell, Jr.

John Bell, Jr. died of pneumonia on April 8, 1862, and is buried with his wife and several of their children in a small cemetery near where their house once stood.  The house burned sometime after Bellís death, and its remnants are still evident today in the form of charred bricks and stones.

[1] The whereabouts of the notes taken by Dr. Joel Thomas Bell and later used in his sonís book are unknown to the author.  Locating and proving the authenticity of these notes would undoubtedly lend additional credibility to Dr. Charles Bailey Bellís book.

[2] Tennessee Military Service Records, State Library and Archives, Nashville.


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