The legend concerns the haunting of the Bell family in and about their home and farm near the Red River in Robertson County, Tennessee. The Bells -- John Bell Sr (played by Donald Sutherland), his wife Lucy (Sissy Spacek), son John Jr (Thom Fell), and youngest daughter Betsy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) -- were plagued by a violent poltergeist or spirit that began haunting them in 1817 and continued to haunt them for years afterward. It all started the day that John Bell Sr was out hunting and shot at a creature described as having the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit. That night, they started hearing noises outside the house, which then moved inside. The children began to complain about having their bed covers pulled from them. Voices began to accompany the spirit, who eventually became so violent that it was "seen" slapping Betsy and pulling her hair. These manifestations were witnessed by numerous, non-family individuals, including (or so it is reported) Andrew Jackson, the future president of the United States. The entity seemed to dislike one of Betsy's suitors, Joshua Gardner. When Betsy broke off their engagement, the entity turned on John Bell, who had begun experiencing episodes of facial twitching and difficulty swallowing. Bell died in December 1820. A vial of what is presumed to be poison (it killed the family cat, too) was found at his bedside and which the entity claimed to have fed him. After putting on a particularly spirited display at Bell's funeral, the entity's haunting activities subsided, although it did return to Lucy Bell to tell her that it would be back in seven years. Seven years later, it appeared to John Jr, disappearing three weeks later with the promise of returning in 107 years (1935). To this date, the manifestations of the Bell Witch have yet to be explained, but the Bell Witch is still credited as being the only case in U.S. history where a spirit caused the death of a man.