The Sadie Baker Witch Legend of Coffee County, Tennessee

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Just off Highway 55 in Coffee County is the grave of an alleged witch who haunts the area, or so legend has it.

Within the Concord Cemetery, a headstone is the site of ghosts and ghostly apparitions. She only has one thing: one name: Sadie Baker.

According to local historian and podcast host Lyle Russell, the legend of Sadie Baker is a story of witchcraft and envy.

Long ago, legend has it, the Shelton family had the most beautiful and sought-after young women in Coffee County. The youngest Shelton girl, Olivia, was said to be the most beautiful of them all and the kindest.

One day, Olivia met a mysterious beggar her age. She had dirty, ragged clothes and tangled dark hair. The girl did not speak, she only extended her hand as if asking for money or food.

Olivia took the girl in, cleaned her up and gave her some clothes to wear, discovering that the silent girl was beautiful too, maybe even more beautiful than the Shelton girls.

Upon discovering the girl’s beauty, all the men in town fell in love with her, even Olivia’s young girlfriend, which is said to have angered Olivia’s mother.

The men of the town were so entranced by her beauty that it began to affect the marriage prospects of the Shelton girls and other women in the community, so Olivia’s mother took matters into her own hands.

“She’s a witch,” Olivia’s mother said. It was the only way the girl could have captivated all the men in town.

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The townspeople then banded together to get rid of the supposed witch, dragging her into an open hole where they tried to bury her alive by covering her with stones, the only way to ensure that they would get rid of the witch for good.

But just before she was thrown into the well, the girl spoke up: “I’m Sadie Baker!” It was the only thing she said before meeting her untimely end.

Life returned to normal for the Sheltons and the rest of the town. Olivia and her girlfriend got married and had children of their own.

However, one day, whether due to a guilty conscience or something otherworldly, Olivia went mad, according to legend. She accused her husband of wanting to be with Sadie instead of her, cut off all of her hair, and tried to become Sadie.

The place where Sadie was buried was marked by a single headstone engraved with only her name. Over time, locals reported seeing a ghostly figure of a girl near the tomb. Some believed it was Sadie herself, while others said it was Olivia, guarding the grave.

“There are some people who believe that Sadie’s ghost still lurks in the ground around her grave,” Russell said. “Some people think that it is Olivia’s ghost that haunts the grave because of the guilt she feels for what she happened to Sadie. It’s really a bit of a strange story.”

Years later, to appease the spirit, locals began to leave coins in the tomb as a tribute to the apparition, hoping it would prevent future apparitions.

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The headstone can now be seen routinely with various coins, horseshoes, flowers, and other trinkets left for Sadie as gifts.

Sadie Baker’s grave (Courtesy of Lyle Russell)

But the grave doesn’t actually belong to the alleged Coffee County witch.

Russell said some investigative work in Coffee County property records links the undated headstone to a woman named Sarah Baker.

“For whatever reason, Sarah Baker, who went by Sadie, her grave was chosen for this legend,” he said. “It’s a neat legend, but it’s not too hard to refute.”

Probably, he said, there were some people who didn’t like Sarah Baker, who made up a story about her grave as a way to mythologize his feud with her.

Regardless, Russell said the story is really a warning.

“This is the kind of thing that can happen when you fall prey to one of the seven deadly sins,” he said.

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