Legends told about ghosts and hauntings often involve restless spirits who were treated terribly during their lives or have unresolved business to attend to, which is why they hang around, looking for vengeance, justice, or just simple recognition. So it stands to reason that a lot of these spirits would be women. One of the more notorious, at least in the US, is the Bell Witch of Tennessee.
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The story says that the ghost responds to the name “Kate,” the name of a woman the patriarch of the family had cheated. According to various accounts, the Bell’s former neighbor, Kate Batts, was a strange woman who was mocked by her community. This positions Kate in the typical profile of the witch: an older woman who is an outcast existing on the margins of her society. Though historical evidence suggests that associations between the real person Kate Batts and the ghost don’t line up (she was still alive at the time of the hauntings!), the association has stuck and the story is rooted in the tradition of a woman wronged by a man and getting revenge in the afterlife. It’s worth considering why it is this story that resonates more than any other version of the tale.
Read about the Bell Witch and four other ghostly legends of women asserting themselves from beyond the grave at Folklore Thursday. -via Strange Company
(Image credit: M. V. Ingram)