I have been mulling her over quite a bit. I’d like to understand better what was meant by “witch” at the time (both at the time the story was first written down and at the time it was supposed to have taken place). We frame this as a ghost story, but it’s not exactly a ghost story. Have I shared with y’all Pat Fitzhugh’s site? He does a good job of stressing that the “witch” was a supernatural entity, not a particular person.
But he also gets right into the meat of what I want to better understand. Here’s him talking about Kate Batts’s kinship ties:
Answer: Genealogy information from North Carolina, along with census and other information in Tennessee, strongly suggests that Mrs. Batts was the niece of Lucy Bell. Specifically, she was the daughter of John Williams, Jr., who was Lucy Williams Bell’s brother. This highly possible connection was discovered by Tim Henson of Adams, Tennessee. Additionally, Mrs. Batts’ husband, Frederick, was the brother of Jeremiah Batts, who was married to Elizabeth Williams, Lucy Williams Bell’s sister. Frederick and Jeremiah Batts were the brothers of Benjamin Batts, the man with whom John Bell had a dispute that ultimately resulted in his excommunication from Red River Baptist Church.
Mrs. Batts’ first name is spelled with a “C,” and not a “K.” I discovered this fact many years ago while researching legal documents at the Robertson County Archives. The name in the document, where Mrs. Batts was the witness to a signature, was spelled, “Caty.” There is reportedly a document in North Carolina, which I have not yet seen, that lists her name as “Cate.” Until I can see and validate that document myself, I am going with the name mentioned in the Robertson County. Tennessee document, “Caty.”
However, I will always spell her name with a “K” because the modern-day spelling is with a “K” ninety-nine percent of the time, even in cases where “Kate” is used as a nickname for “Catherine,” spelled with a “C.”
That first paragraph is loaded with “aha!”s.
About the only question it doesn’t answer is whether Betts Road is perhaps a misspelling of Batts Road.
But I’m collecting Middle Tennessee women I’m fascinated with–Elizabeth Bennett, Kate Batts, and to a lesser extent, Rachel Jackson, and maybe Charlotte Robertson.