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The Bell Witch was a reported demonic entity which has since gone on to become one of the world's most infamous ghost stories and paranormal events - like all reported hauntings, it is also extremely controversial, but unlike many others, is extremely well documented, even if the actual events have long been lost to the depths of history (and hence become a part of folklore).
The Bell Witch has her origins in folklore dating back centuries but earned her official name from the infamous haunting of the Bell family, early settlers to the region: particularly John Bell and Betsy, whom it seemed to particularly enjoy tormenting: the haunting began in 1817 and lasted for four years before coming to a dramatic end when John died, it has long been claimed that John's death was caused by the spirit itself, often attributed to a mysterious liquid the Witch gave him (presumably poison).
The events were said to have began after John encountered a strange creature resembling a horse with a rabbit's head, which he shot at only for it to disappear - soon the Bell family would be ruthlessly tormented, prompting them to try and call on aid but apparently the spirit's powers were so strong even aid could do little to stop it and many who visited the family also reported horrific incidents or strange misfortunes.
The Bell Witch itself was a chaotic and cruel entity that often gave random origins and names when asked on its true nature, everything from disgruntled neighbors with black magic down to The Devil himself was claimed by the spirit to be its true nature - as such it was clearly a liar and never revealed itself to anyone. When asked for a name its most fond alias seemed to be "Kate Batts" and it claimed both to be a witch and a spirit that was once happy but now furious - the same spirit also switched to claiming it as a Native American angered by people settling on its land and once the spirit even claimed it was the ghost of a man who hid treasure near the home, only to cackle madly when the occupants tried in vain to find said treasure.
While an evil entity by nature, the Bell Witch was said to be less active in tormenting other members of the Bell Family and reserved most of her hatred for John and Betsy - it was even possible to hold somewhat decent conversations with the "witch", this made the farm a frequent flocking point for people who would ask the spirit many questions (however the spirit was also a notorious liar, so any answers would of likely been false too).
All in All everything the Bell Witch did for four long years was designed to torment and harm the Bell family - it started with small-scale mischief such as pulling hair, throwing objects around and startling people with strange imagery but it grew more sadistic as time went by and soon began to possess people, viciously beat occupants and ultimately hastened the death of John Bell via feeding him strange liquid.
The Bell Witch also attacked and tormented others and was said to reside in a cave which still bares her name, though these attacks soon became a sort of scapegoat used to lay the blame of any misdeed on the "witch" and thus the original haunting of the Bell family remains the most notable and documented of the Bell Witch encounters.
Powers and Abilities
The Bell Witch was said to be able to change forms, perform all manner of mischief associated with poltergeists and even possessed some sort of deadly magic, which was blamed on the ultimate fate of her last victim - despite being referred to as a "witch" the Bell Witch is more accurately a type of malicious spirit or demon.
Aspects of the Bell Witch would appear in many media after the event, most notable is probably The Blair Witch Project - which takes many similarities of the Bell Witch but updated it more a more modern audience, it also popularized the "found footage" subgenre of horror.
Other works inspired by the Bell Witch include:
In the particular episode "Familiar" of the revival season of The X-Files had many elements of witchcraft and Satanism, the inclusion of shape-shifting monsters lurking in the woods and vengeful witches is likely inspired by the Bell Witch, which also took place in a rural community and involved seemingly impossible phenomena occuring and stalking specific victims.