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Bell Witch Character Biography

Reverend Thomas Gunn (1770-1859)


Reverend Thomas Gunn and his brother were early pioneers of Methodism in the Red River Settlement and very prominent figures in the "Bell Witch" legend.  He was born and spent his childhood in Virginia, where was licensed to preach in May of 1789. [1]  He moved to Caswell County, North Carolina in 1791, and to the Red River area, settling in Logan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1812. He moved to the Red River Settlement some four years later.

He was twice married, and three of his five children married into the John Bell family. Despite having a dislocated hip from having been thrown by a horse later in life, Reverend Thomas Gunn continued his trademark fervent, “hellfire and brimstone” preaching – often traveling long distances and suffering great pain to deliver the word.

In 1844, he contracted palsy and suffered a head injury that rendered him invalid for the remainder of his life.  Reverend Thomas Gunn died in May of 1859 at the advanced age of 89 years, and is buried in one of the two Gunn cemeteries near Adams, Tennessee. [2]


[1]  McFerrin’s History of Methodism in Tennessee, 1886.

[2]  Information about the Gunns was obtained from the Bible of Reverend James Gunn and information provided to the author by direct descendants.


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