Tennessee Folklore

Big Development in the “Bell Witch” Case

Author’s note: This was originally posted to the Facebook fan page several months ago; I have recently decided to move forward with publishing it to a wider audience.  — Pat Fitzhugh

One of the more popular “Bell Witch theories” to emerge in recent years centers on the first book ever written about the case, published by Martin Ingram of Clarksville, Tennessee, back in 1894, seventy-five years after the supernatural disturbances allegedly happened.

A “first book” is often the starting point for those researching an old case, and the researcher’s first job is to try and validate the author’s claims. What happens if the author is deceased? What if the author’s sources were destroyed by the proverbial “courthouse fire,” or simply went missing? It comes as no surprise that many first-published accounts of allegedly true events are open to conflicting interpretations and harsh, relentless scrutiny. People read the accounts, draw their own conclusions, void of any proof, and then argue their conclusions as “fact.” Welcome to the Bell Witch case.

Because Martin Ingram is long deceased, and his source document–Richard Bell’s Our Family Trouble manuscript–has yet to be found, his Bell Witch book has become the prime target of inquisitives, conspiracy theorists, and skeptics alike. Many even think he made up the legend. Did he? Welcome to the jungle. (more…)