The incident of Mercy Brown was part of the New England vampire panic. George and Mary Brown were well-respected farmers and there was no reason to suspect that they were anything but a normal family.
Mercy: The Last New England Vampire
The unusual case started with the death of Mary Brown in and in their eldest daughter Mary Olive died from the same disease. After their deaths, in their son Edwin became ill and his father tried everything to keep him alive. Scared from the terrifying symptoms of tuberculosis, the locals started to believe that this illness was influenced of the undead and it was caused by vampires.
They concluded that one of the demons lived in one of the Brown graves. It was determined that Mercy Brown was a vampire who draw the life out of her entire family. There was no decay and her body was not in the position it had been buried.
The Truth Behind the 19th Century New England Vampire Panic
When he awoke each morning he complained of feeling like the blood had been drained from his body. At the recommendations of his friends, Edwin and his wife moved to Colorado Springs hoping that a spa there would help in his recovery. While away, Edwin learned that another sister, Mercy Lena, had also died from the disease, in January of He then returned to Rhode Island, healthier than when he had left.
This quickly changed. The bodies of both the mother and Mary Olive were decomposed as would be expected.
Though there were good reasons that her body was like this, the neighbors suspected that she was a vampire. Also, it is very possible that her body shifted within the coffin while it was being opened.
These were then burned on a nearby rock and a drink was made from the ashes. Despite these efforts, Edwin died two months later.
Now keep in mind that even though many residents in this area may have believed in the vampire legend, there was no real proof. Even the doctor that exhumed Mercy stated to them that the condition of her body, including the blood, was perfectly normal.
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Consumption, also known as tuberculosis, was a crippling disease and would at times wipe out entire families. I often wonder what it was like to live during this time period, where your entire family relied on you as a father to provide for the family, working the land and then having so many family members die of tuberculosis with no known cure.
Grave of Mercy Brown
The grave site is about halfway down the main road on the left. The crypt is on the right-hand side of the cemetery along the perimeter of the property. The cemetery is open during daylight hours but please be respectful.
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