Just so you don’t go by my word alone, I’ve decided to pass along some of my research on witches, shadow voices, shadow people, and remote viewers.
Below is a part of the story surrounding The Bell Witch story known in both Mississippi and Tennessee.
Mississippi Bell Witch Legends
THE BELL “WITCH”
By Phil Norfleet
For some time I have known of the existence of the story of the Bell “witch.” Miss Lois Womble, of Water Valley, first told me about it. She knew only of its general outlines — a family by the name of Bell pursued from Illinois (as she heard the story) to Mississippi by a sort of larva familiae which its members called a witch, and which exerted its malign powers in various ways, from rough practical jokes terrifying in their effects to serious harm.
Last summer I asked Miss Ethel Lewellen, who was then living in Panola County, the home of one branch of the Bell family, whether she had ever heard of the Bell “witch.” She replied that she had, but beyond mentioning that she had heard of a book on the subject she was able to contribute little to what I had heard from Miss Womble. She promised, however, to make inquiries and to transmit to me whatever she discovered. To her I owe most of the facts, presented in her own language below.
One other informant, Mr. Fonnie Black Ladd, who formerly resided at Oakland, Mississippi, and who is now a student in the University, added a few details of the story which Miss Lewellen’s account lacked.
The details from both accounts do not, I am sure, tell the whole story of the Bell “witch.” It is probable that not even the book referred to tells it all, for the story, like all stories that become the property of the folk, apparently has many mutations, and has undoubtedly been growing since the book was published (as the testimony indicates to be a fact). Lacking the book, which I hope eventually to see, I set down the details in the order which they seem to sustain to one another.
Miss Lewellen writes as follows in a letter transmitting her account of the story:
“Bauxite, Arkansas, March 28, 1928.
“Mr. A. P. Hudson, University, Miss.
“Dear Mr. Hudson:
“So far, the book containing the Bell Witch story has not been located; but if I can ever find it, I shall be glad to send it to you.
“I am enclosing some of the stories that the older members of our community could remember about the Witch – or rather the Wizard. I am told that the family of Bells who believed so implicitly in this ‘Witch’ moved to Mississippi in the hope of ridding themselves of its presence.
“I am glad to send you this for I think it pictures some of the beliefs of ignorant, superstitious, though probably good, people of earlier days.
“To Panola County, about a half century ago,” Miss Lewellen begins, “there moved with the Bell family a ‘witch’ that tormented one of the Bell girls and caused a great deal of suspicion to arise among the other members of the family and the community.”
Mr. Fonnie Black Ladd, from recollections of the story as he heard it in his childhood at Oakland, adds some details about the circumstances in which the family moved to Mississippi. The Bells were living at Bell, Tennessee. Becoming dissatisfied, the father of the family expressed his desire to sell his farm and go somewhere else. The mother was opposed to going. One of the daughters agreed with her father and argued in favor of going to Mississippi. One night the lar familiaris (The Lar Familiaris was a domestic guardian spirit who cared for the welfare and prosperity of a household.) of the family spoke to her and warned her against going. The daughter nevertheless persisted in her arguments and finally persuaded her father to sell out and move to Mississippi. Before the family left, the lar addressed her again and threatened to pursue her with its vengeance.
When they got to Mississippi, Miss Lewellen’s account proceeds, “the members of the family talked of sending this girl away so that they might be free from the ‘Witch’s’ awful presence. They also hoped that the girl might rid herself of the unspeakable torture which the ‘Witch’ visited upon her. ‘There’s no use for you to do this,’ said a Voice, ‘for no matter where she goes I will follow.’
“No one was ever able to see the ‘Witch’; but often some member of the family would see food disappear as the ‘Witch’ carried it from the cupboard to ‘his’ mouth. ‘His’ favorite food was cream, and ‘he’ took it from every jar of milk. The Bells were never able to get any butter from the milk they churned.
“An old Negro woman once hid under a bed and tried to see the ‘Witch’ but ere she had long been there, something began to bite, scratch, and pinch her; and she was almost killed before she could get out.
“Although the ‘Witch’ treated the girl very cruelly, ‘he’ was not entirely inimical to other members of the family; on the contrary, ‘he’ proved very helpful on several occasions.
“One day Mr. Bell was talking of visiting a family in which every one was ill. ‘I have just come from there,’ said a Voice from nowhere, and proceeded to describe the physical condition of every member of the family, and also to tell what every member of the family was doing on that particular day. Investigation showed that the report of illness was false and proved the accuracy of every detail of the Voice’s account of the state and activities of the family.
“On another occasion Mr. Bell was preparing to go for a doctor to attend one of his sick children. The Voice said, ‘There’s no need for you to go; I can get the doctor.’ No one else went, but in due time the doctor came.