One of the most well-known haunting in America took place in Adams, Tennessee, 1817. For nearly 200 years an entity known as "The Bell Witch" haunted the small farm community. Many say that "The Bell Witch" was a woman named Kate Batts. Kate was the mean neighbor of John Bell and is said she was wronged by him in a land purchase. On her deathbed she vowed to haunt John Bell and all his descendents.
For years, the Bells were tormented by the spirit, John Bell and his daughter, Betsy being the primary targets. No one ever really saw her but you definitely heard and felt her torment. She would read sermons, sang hymns, as well as pulled their hair, poked needles in them, yell at all hours of the night, snatched food from their mouths at mealtime and the list goes on. It is also said that this phenomena attracted a future president.
General Andrew Jackson, of whom John Bell at one time served under, heard about the infamous spirit and decided to investigate the witch and either reveal the hoax or send the spirit away. He gathered a group of men and made the journey to Adams. Many of the men followed the wagon on horseback as they approached the place, discussing how they were going to get rid of the witch. As they traveled over a smooth level piece of road, the wagon halted. The driver popped the whip and the horses pulled as hard as they could but it wouldn't budge. Gen. Jackson, soon then, ordered his men to dismount and remove the wheels and examine them. After determining that there was nothing wrong with the wheels, Gen. Jackson threw up his hands and exclaimed, "By the eternal boys, it is the witch." A metallic voice responded with "All right General, let the wagon move on, I will see you again to-night." Bewildered, the men looked in every direction to determine where the voice came from but didn't see anyone. At that moment, the horse started unexpectedly and the wagon moved smoothly, continuing its journey to Adams.
During their stay, it is said that they were subjected to the same torment as the Bells: covers being yanked off, slapped, poked by needles, pinched, etc. After one night, Gen. Jackson and his men hightailed it out of there. Jackson was later quoted as saying, "I'd rather fight the British in New Orleans than to have to fight the Bell Witch."
John Bell met his demise on the morning of December 19th. Two months before, he was struck with illness while walking to the pigsty of his farm. Some say he had a stroke because thereafter he had difficulties talking and swallowing. On that day in December, he failed to awake at his usual time and his family noticed that he was sleeping unnaturally. They discovered John was in a stupor and could not be awakened. When John Jr. went to get his father's medicine, he noticed it had been replaced with a strange vial that later, after been tested on a cat, was discovered to be poison. The witch bragged that she had given John a dose of it while he slept. John Bell died on December 20th. The witch was quiet until after his funeral when she began to sing loudly and joyously. This continued until all friends and family had left the grave site.
In 1821, the Bell Witch left the Bell household saying she would be back in seven years and made good on her promise. Seven years later, she appeared at the home of John Bell, Jr. where she told him of prophecies of future events, the Civil war, World War I and II for example. The ghost said that she would reappear 107 years later, 1935, but no one has ever come forward with claims of her making good on her word. A cave now sits where the Bell property once was. It is now known as The Bell Witch Cave. Some say they have seen apparitions and other unexplained things at the cave and other spots near it.
But was there an explanation for all these strange occurrences? One rational explanation was that it was a hoax, just clever pranks and tricks thought of by one person. Richard Powell, a schoolteacher, was in love with one of his students, Betsy Bell. But she was in love with Joshua Gardner, also one of Powell's students. It is said that he would have done anything to destroy their relationship, even create all the effects of a "ghost" to scare him away. Joshua Gardner did, indeed, break up with Betsy and moved away on account that he had been a primary target of all the witch's violent taunting. But no one really knows if Powell really was the culprit of this elaborate scheme or even how he was able to pull off all the remarkable effects, including paralyzing General Jackson's wagon. The only known thing is that he came out the winner and married Betsy Bell.
More info: http://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa101399.htm