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.
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.