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Richard Williams Bell (1811-1857)


Although only six years old when Kate’s disturbances began, Richard Williams Bell vividly remembered the terrifying encounters his family experienced at the hands Kate.  He is credited with authoring the only known eyewitness account of the disturbances, entitled "Our Family Trouble."

In 1846, Bell journalized the disturbances in a comprehensive manuscript that he later passed to his son, State Rep. Allen Bell, who later shared it with his closest family members.  In the late nineteenth century, Martin Ingram incorporated Richard Williams Bell’s manuscript into his book, “Authenticated History of the Bell Witch,” in the form of a single chapter entitled, “Our Family Trouble.”  Both the inclusion of Bell’s manuscript and the book’s 1894 publication date reflect Ingram’s honoring the Bell family’s request that the account not be published until after all of John Bell’s immediate family had died.

The second youngest child of John and Lucy Bell, Richard Williams  Bell was born at the Bell farm in Robertson County, Tennessee.  He spent his entire life as a successful farmer in the Red River area and was married three times.  Despite his more-than-ample opportunity, Bell had only two children.

He purchased a tract of land atop the hill at Brown’s Ford Bluff from his brother, Joel Egbert Bell, in 1855, where he remained until his death two years later.  His son, State Rep. Allen Bell, inherited the land.

Richard Williams Bell died in 1857 at the young age of 46 years, and is buried with his parents and several siblings in the old Bell cemetery near Adams, Tennessee.


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