Podcast: Paranormal Presidents Part II

A witchy encounter and a bizarre spiritual biography.

In Part I of our two-part episode we talked about an apparition of John Adams, the medieval ritual of bier right, and the legend of Rawhide and Bloody Bones.

In our conclusion, we dig into two paranormal stories about presidents born in 1767 – those famous rivals Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams.

Listen now:

Show Notes

Andrew Jackson and the Bell Witch

First, we explore the legend of the Bell Witch which is said to have terrorized the Bell family of Tennessee from 1817 – 1821. Most of what we know about this haunting comes from this book:

You might be tempted to question some of the stories in this book, but I would urge you to look closely at its title and keep in mind that it is authenticated.

And illustrated!

The Bell Witch took a particular interest in two things: torturing the young, beautiful “Fairy Queen of the Haunted Dell” Betsy Bell, and slowly killing her father, John Bell, Sr. or “Old Jack.”

As you can see, Old Jack didn’t stand a chance.

But what about Andy Jack — good ol’ Old Hickory?

The Bell Witch literally stopped Andrew Jackson in his tracks.

But ultimately, the showdown between General Andrew Jackson and the Bell Witch was more bizarre than haunting. Instead of turning their enormous supernatural powers against each other, they became…friends.

The legacy of the Bell Witch lives on in Adams, Tennessee with some tourist attractions and this sign, which proves that there are no standards for historical markers.

We conclude with the story of an autobiography that John Quincy Adams wrote…from Heaven.

The Spiritual Biography of John Quincy Adams

Through the hands of the medium J. L. Stiles, Adams wrote 400 pages detailing his arrival in heaven and his experience learning how to communicate with the living.This book came to my attention through the great blog Boston 1775 and J. L. Bell’s great posts about it.

As a work of art, it contains some fantastic scenes of exactly what a seance looks like from a spirit’s point of view, along with surreal Lynchian descriptions of spiritual electricity.

And then there is Benjamin Franklin’s heavenly “defecated electricity” machine, which I’d like to think is pictured here.

Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky, by Benjamin West, circa 1816, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Have a happy Halloween, and let us know what you think of the episode!

Listen now:

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Andrew Jackson and the Bell Witch:
An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch by M. V. Ingram
Psychic says she knows real story behind Bell Witch by Nicole Young, Tennessean, October 26, 2015
The Spiritual Biography of John Quincy Adams:
Twelve Messages From The Spirit John Quincy Adams, Through Joseph D. Stiles, Medium, To Josiah Brigham
The Afterlife of John Quincy Adams by J. L. Bell, Boston 1775
On The Floating Zephyrs of Heaven” by J. L. Bell, Boston 1775
The Notebooks of Joseph D. Stiles by John Benedict Buescher (PDF)


  1. Carolyn Ten Broeck
    January 27, 2021 / 7:16 am

    I discovered your podcast about a month ago and while my commute each day is short, I’m trying to catch up. I enjoy it very much as it encompasses two of my hobbies: history and trivia.
    I have my own Raw Head and Bloody Bones history. I grew up in rural Eastern Kentucky and am of Welsh and Scot-Irish descent. My maternal grandmother threatened us with Raw Head and Bloody Bones, who lived in the house’s only closet (she called it a “press”). We weren’t even allowed to touch the thread spindle doorknob that opened the press. To do so, would resort in horrific things happening to my cousins and me. The podcast brought all that back — from 50+ years ago.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Howard Dorre
      January 27, 2021 / 11:06 am

      Thank you so much for listening and for sharing that story! I’m glad we could rekindle those memories! It’s amazing how grandmothers have carried this story down through the years, and it really makes you wonder what was in that closet.

  2. Luca Bayley
    September 6, 2022 / 2:43 pm

    By The Eternal! Political cartoons featuring President Jackson had him say that almost every cartoon, so he probably used the phrase a lot. Maybe not quite as much as the story version used it. Also the image of Old Hickory rolling on the floor laughing his ass off is hilarious

    • Howard Dorre
      September 6, 2022 / 2:57 pm

      Thanks for listening and commenting! I’ve encountered that phrase more often since doing that episode but haven’t dug into Jackson political cartoons. And now I now I should. If you happen to listen to our Potty-Mouthed Parrots episode, we dig more into his alleged profanities (and his parrot’s.) I really wish we had more scandalous tell-all diaries from the past to illuminate these types of things.

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