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Bell Witch of Tennessee

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Betsy Bell (1806-1888)

 

This sketch is probably the most widely published image of Betsy Bell, even though it was derived solely from the imagination of Martin Van Buren Ingram. The sketch appears in his book entitled An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch.

Photograph of Betsy Bell's Original Tombstone that once was located in the Long Branch Cemetery located near Water Valley, Yalobusha County. Mississippi. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by vandals in about the year 2000 and a new marker has now been set up in place of the original stone.

 

Elizabeth (Betsy) Bell (1806-1888) is the best known of John Bell's children and, next to John Bell himself, was the person most persecuted by the "Witch."  The Witch prevented Betsy from marrying her childhood sweetheart, Joshua Gardner and seemed to take particular joy in physically and mentally tormenting her.

The Witch left the Bell household in 1821 and in 1824 Betsy married her former school teacher, Richard Rowell Ptolomy Powell (1795-1848). Powell was eleven years older than Betsy but the marriage appears to have been a happy one.  Unfortunately, Powell suffered a stroke in 1837 and died a few years later in 1848.  Betsy endured a long widowhood in Robertson County TN and very late in life removed to Yalobusha County, Mississippi where she died on 11 July 1888.  She is buried in the Long Branch Cemetery located near Water Valley, Yalobusha County, Mississippi.

The following poem, by Martin Van Buren Ingram, is taken from his book entitled An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch (first published in 1894):

 

Betsy Bell

The Queen of the Haunted Dell

 

Mid woodland bowers, grassy dell,

By an enchanted murmuring stream,

Dwelt pretty blue-eyed Betsy Bell,

Sweetly thrilled with love's young dream.

 

Life was like the magic spell,

That guides a laughing stream,

Sunbeams glimmering on her fell,

Kissed by lunar's silvery gleam.

 

But elfin phantoms cursed the dell,

And sylvan witches all unseen,

As our tale will truly tell,

Wielded sceptre o'er the queen.  

 

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