UFO photo from the CEFAA files taken by a family in the El Yeso reservoir in Cajón del Maipo, near Santiago, on Feb. 14, 2010, considered “stealthy” because it wasn’t seen by the witnesses. Conclusion: Open case, pending. (Image credit: CEFAA)
The tormenting spirit of America’s best-known poltergeist case
ADAMS, TENNESSEE, in 1817 was the site of one of the most well-known hauntings in American history - so well known that it eventually caught the attention and then the involvement of a future president of the United States.
Known as The Bell Witch, the strange and often violent poltergeist activity that provoked fear and curiosity in the small farming community has remained unexplained for nearly 200 years, and is the inspiration for many fictional ghost stories, including the recent film, The Blair Witch Project. The facts of The Bell Witch case share little in common with the mythology created for The Blair Witch Project, except they both attracted a great deal of public interest. And because it really happened, The Bell Witch is far scarier.
The Historical Record
One early account of The Bell Witch haunting was written in 1886 by historian Albert Virgil Goodpasture in his History of Tennessee. He wrote, in part:
A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the “Bell Witch.” This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The freaks it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfiture of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary. A volume might be written concerning the performance of this wonderful being, as they are now described by contemporaries and their descendants. That all this actually occurred will not be disputed, nor will a rational explanation be attempted.
Packing what may be the world’s biggest bite, a recently revealed “sea monster” would have given Jaws a run for its money.
Put on display July 8 at the U.K.’s Dorset County Museum, the 7.9-foot-long (2.4 meter-long) skull (pictured) belonged to a pliosaur, a type of plesiosaur that had a short neck, a huge, crocodile-like head, and razor-sharp teeth. When alive about 155 million years ago, the seagoing creature would have had a strong enough bite to snap a car in half, according to the museum.
Amateur collector Kevan Sheehan found the skull in pieces between 2003 and 2008 at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, a 95-mile (152-kilometer) stretch of fossil-rich coastline in England. The Dorset County Council’s museums service purchased the fossil, and later research by University of Southampton scientists suggests that it’s the largest complete pliosaur skull ever found. (Explore a National Geographic magazine sea monsters interactive.)