The American South has a unique flair for theatricality and a dark past. Nothing reflects this match-made-in-hell quite like creepy stories from Tennessee. From bathroom boy ghosts to inexplicable lights to headless horsemen, these Tennessee urban legends are terrifying, mystical, and strange.
You'll no doubt recognize some classic folklore tropes in these stories, but Tennessee puts a unique twist on the tried and traditional, spinning the kinds of tales that might make you feel sick to your stomach. There's blood, gore, tragedy, and many angry ghosts in creepy Tennessee.
In 1804, farmer John Bell and his family settled in northern Robertson County in Tennessee and became prosperous members of the community. In the summer of 1817, a cruel presence began haunting them. They saw strange animals on the property, heard knocking from within, and outside, the house, chains being dragged through rooms, and all sorts of gurgling and choking sounds.
After a year, Bell confided his troubles in a neighbor and a committee was formed to investigate. The presence became known as the Bell Witch, and her power grew along with the crowds that came to feel her power and, eventually, it was said, speak to her. Though she never assumed corporeal form, many claim to have spoken to the Bell Witch.
They say she knew details about the past and future and could be in two places at once. Her goals were to slay John Bell and stop his youngest daughter from marrying a neighbor. She slowly ruined his health and daughter.
After John Bell's passing in 1820 and the dissolution of his daughter's engagement the following year, the witch promised to return in seven years. She kept her word, spending a few weeks with Bell's son in 1828, discussing the past and future. She said there was a reason Bell had to perish, but she never revealed her motive.
She then said she would return in 107 years, but many think she never left the area at all, due to ongoing bizarre events in the town and the nearby Bell Witch Cave.
The Rotherwood Mansion of Kingsport was built by plantation owner and town founder Frederick Ross, who had a daughter named Rowena. Rowena's life was plagued by tragedy. Her first love perished in a boating mishap on the day of their wedding, and her second husband passed of yellow fever.
After marrying again and becoming a parent, she watched her only daughter perish. Overcome with grief, Rowena took her life. People claim to have seen her ghost, dressed in white, walking the halls of Rotherwood.
At night, strange lights can be seen dancing above the graves in Chapel Hill Cemetery in McKenzie. And this isn't the only strange trick light plays on one's eyes there.
A nearby church, built on the site of an older church, which, as luck would have it, was reportedly built on top of, or at least very near, a Native American cemetery, is plagued by walking shadows with no discernable light source.
This old haunted auditorium in Nashville is famous for hosting some of the biggest names in country music throughout the years. The ghost of Hank Williams Sr. supposedly haunts the place; he's been seen backstage and a white mist that's believed to be him singing was once seen taking center stage. Others have noted several other presences on the property throughout the years, and the venue is associated with the Opry Curse, which many say led to the untimely demises of numerous country artists.
The curse is related to the Grand Ole Opry, a popular revue hosted at the venue, from which 35 past participants are believed to have suffered tragic or untimely ends.