Tennessee

Legend of the Bell Witch

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The Red River runs for over a hundred miles through South-central Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.  A tributary to the Cumberland river, it’s named after the river’s unique watercolor, caused by clay and silt deposits containing iron oxides.  In 1778, Thomas Kilgore built a fort on the banks of the Red River near present day Cross Plains, but native hostility was so great he abandoned it in less than a year, a scenario that played out over and over for the next decade till unfair treaties and American coercion pressed the Native tribes west.

By the time Tennessee was granted statehood in June of 1796, this region which would become Robertson County, had a population of almost 4,000.  Most of the early settlers to migrate here were of English or Scot-Irish origin. Primarily farmers looking to cultivate tobacco, depending heavily on the use of slave labor to make a profit; eventually giving Robertson County the reputation as the “Home of the World’s Finest Dark Fired Tobacco.”  

But it’s also during this era, in the early nineteenth century, that one of the most well documented hauntings in American History occurred, right here in Robertson County on the Red River.

SOUTHERN GOTHIC: THE PODCAST MERCH AVAILABLE NOW!

SOUTHERN GOTHIC: THE PODCAST MERCH AVAILABLE NOW!

A legend so infamous, it purportedly caught the attention of a future President; gripping a small Tennessee community for years, and terrorizing a family for generations.

A legend known as the Bell Witch.

The Seer of Shelbyville

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On March 22, 1957, Simon Warner, a self-described "crime doctor," was murdered at is home in Shelbyville, Tennessee for allegedly placing a Voodoo hex on a man who had come to him for help; and while Warner was certainly not a Voodoo practitioner, many believed he held supernatural powers.

Little Nina's Bleeding Mausoleum

Little Nina's Bleeding Mausoleum

In the city of Cleveland,Tennessee is a legendary mausoleum haunted by the spirit of young girl killed in a tragic accident at a railroad crossing.  Legend says if you circle the tomb seven times and then approach it's entrance, the metal door will swing open and invite you in.  Yet this legend isn’t what made the ornate marble mausoleum the basis of one of the most infamous ghost stories in East Tennessee— it’s that the marble tomb seems to bleed.