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Vampirism In the Late 1800s


Subdeacon Joe

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Strange things: http://www.ghostvillage.com/legends/2003/legends20_06142003.shtml

 

Mercy Brown has the distinction of being the last of the North American vampires -- at least in the traditional sense. Mercy Lena Brown was a farmer's daughter and an upstanding member of rural Exeter, Rhode Island. She was only 19 years old when she died of consumption on January 17, 1892. On March 17, 1892, Mercy's body would be exhumed from the cemetery because members of the community suspected the vampire Mercy Brown was attacking her dying brother, Edwin.

 

"There's a suggestion in the newspaper that she wasn't actually interred in the ground," Dr. Bell said. "She was actually put in an above-ground crypt, because bodies were stored in the wintertime when the ground was frozen and they couldn't really dig. When the thaw came, they would bury them. So it's possible that she wasn't even really interred."

 

Her visual condition prompted the group to cut open her chest cavity and examine her innards. Dr. Bell said, "They examined her organs. The newspaper said her heart and liver had blood in it. It was liquid blood, which they interpreted as fresh blood." Bell explained how forensics can clarify how blood can coagulate and become liquid again, but at the time, the liquid was taken as evidence that Mercy was indeed a vampire and the one draining the life from Edwin and possibly other consumption victims in the community.

 

Dr. Bell said, "They cut her heart out, and as Everett said, they burned it on a nearby rock. Then according to the newspaper, they fed them [the ashes of the heart] to Edwin." The folklore said that destroying the heart of a vampire would kill it, and by consuming the remains of the vampire's heart -- the spell would be broken and the victim would get well.

 

The community's vampire slaying had failed to save Edwin -- he died two months later, but maybe it helped others in the community? Dr. Bell's view on Mercy Brown is that she was the scapegoat author Paul Barber discussed. Dr. Bell said, "She basically absorbs the ignorance, the fears, and in some cases the guilt that people have because their neighbors, friends, and family are dying, and they don't understand why and they can't stop it."

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