Turning to Wikipedia we find the following note on the article pertaining to the vampire hysteria in New England:
Dr. John Clough of New Ipswich, reported in “The Influence of the Mind on Physical Organization” in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal Volume XXI (1840): “In connection with [these superstitions], I cannot omit to mention a circumstance which occurred in this town (New Ipswich), not thirty years since, and similar occurrences probably occurred in many other towns in New England. This was disinterring a human body, which belonged to a family all strongly predisposed to consumption, for the purpose of removing the heart, which was burned, the ashes of which were considered a sovereign remedy to those of the family who were still living, and might be afflicted with the same disease. This only illustrates the fact that those elements of character which held such a magic sway over the minds of men in ancient times, have not ceased altogether to influence the community in our comparatively enlightened day.”
We are not given a name for the resident that was exhumed and as a time-frame we can place the event as taking place sometime around 1810.
The picture described is similar to that of the other cases from the vampire panic in New England.
As with other cases from that region, we are talking about an outbreak of tuberculosis where the first family member that dies from the disease is exhumed because he was labeled a vampire and the community rallied together in order to save the remaining members of the family.
The rituals are performed in the dead of night and no further details are provided with respect to this case.
† Vampire Accounts
The great part about having town records is that you can always consult them and find incredible facts about the people that used to live in your neighbourhood.
In this particular case the documents allowed us to as far back as the time when Scioto County [Ohio] was settled, back in the 1800s.
We are treated with the following article:
The family of Philip Salladay came from Switzerland, bought and settled on a lot in the French Grant soon after the opening of the country for settlement. Hereditary consumption developed itself in the family sometime after their location in Scioto county. The head of the family and the oldest son had died of it and others began to manifest symptoms, when an attempt was made to arrest the progress of the disease by a process which has been practised in numerous instances, but without success. They resolved to disinter one of the victims, take his entrails and burn them in a fire prepared for the purpose, in the presence of the surviving members of the family. This was accordingly done in the winter of 1816–17, in the presence of a large concourse of spectators who lived in the surrounding neighborhood, and by Major Amos Wheeler, of Wheelersburg. Samuel Salladay was the one they disinterred and offered up as a sacrifice, to stop if possible the further spread of the disease. But like other superstitious notions with regard to curing diseases it proved of no avail. The other members of the family continued to die off until the last one was gone except George.
Based off the way the text is worded I got the feeling that they were trying to make a distinction as to the family being foreigners that had settled recently and the sidenote that they had a predisposition for consumption [aka tuberculosis].
We also get details about what happened after the ritual was performed on Samuel – his family sadly continued to suffer from the diseara and apparently died off.
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† Vampire Accounts
Although not the first work to present this kind of character, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker was the first novel to truly have success
The creative process wasn`t a spontaneous one, as many would imagine. It took decades to complete the novel, Stoker spending a great deal of time documenting in the British libraries.
The myths may have left their mark on Count Dracula – the character, but the notion of an aristocratic-vampire is a huge step forward! It became the first vampire character that managed to sneak in the collective subconscious, influencing even to this day.
Although Stoker’s vampire summarizes all available superstitions [up to that time], the character in itself brings a new and exciting twist: the undead is of noble origin and retains the title of Count.
The author thus creates a huge gap between the aristocrat Dracula represents and the corpses leaving their tombs at night to feed. The latter behaved more like the zombies in voodoo culture, while Dracula is endowed with intelligence and has other interests outside the “running” after blood.
The Count is able to plan the journey and even counterstrike some obstacles, avoiding difficult situations throughout the story and especially he allows for an evil character to be exposed by the [first] hunter: Van Helsing.
Even his image is a special one. He seems to be endowed in order to seduce his victims.
Traditional vampires used their powers to subdue victims, but Dracula is shown as a courtly gentleman, with good quality clothing – even manages to mimic life for a few days as his lawyer visits him to sign the contract for buying the future home in England.
The general image of a vampire is supposed to be complete with a shroud and / or semi-decomposed clothes, unkempt appearance [hair disheveled, broken nails because of numerous exits from the tomb] and blood – incriminating evidence around the mouth of any vampire.
We rarely find dialogues in the old stories, but we can not put too much emphasis on this because there weren`t so many writers [of short stories and novels] that focused on these issues ahead of Stoker. The classic poems present scenes of vampires and their victims [almost always undead relatives or lovers] without much dialog.
In the legends who inspired Bram Stoker, the vampire is a creature of darkness that shows a lot of negative aspects – that Irish has introduced in the description of Dracula. Associated with the shadows and night, the Church used the vampire to incite fear and it was considered a servant of the devil; the vampire was “kept out of the world by the light of God” during the day.
Unlike other mythological creatures, the vampire did not have duality before the changes made by Stoker! While in other cases demons behaved like normal people while the sun was in the sky [often taking the appearance of a member of the community], and after nightfall their monstrous side would manifest, the vampire spend the day in the cemetery, more precisely in its grave. The night was dedicated to hunting!
Stoker changed certain elements without changing the nature of his character.
Like other vampires, Dracula cann`t move during the day, but neither is he trapped in the cemetery. His coffin travels without major issues from Transylvania all the way to Britain -he even uses of his powers to subdue the will of the crew and changes the environment to his liking [causes fog and storm during the trip]. No other vampire before Dracula was so strong and had so many supernatural powers.
His duality occurs at nightfall, when he is both the courteous aristocrat who commands respect, and bloody and scary vampire, bringing more of an animal.
† Count Dracula
The legend of Nellie Vaughn is an urban one – supposedly a true story – but it originates in the human imagination, not in folklore or the traditions from the time of her death.
She was never suspected of being a vampire by her family and friends. Her body was never exhumed; she was never found to be in an insufficient state of decomposition; her internal organs were never removed and burnt.
What makes Nellie unusual is that nearly a hundred years after her death [in 1977 to be more exact], she acquired an undeserved reputation as a vampire when an article was published the following about her grave as being:
the only sunken grave in the cemetery and continues to sink into the earth. “No vegetation or lichen will grown on the grave,” reports a local university professor[,] despite numerous attempts by grave tenders and the curious.
The sweet Nellie was only 19 at the time of her death on May 31st 1889 – as a result of pneumonia. No one in her family died in unusual circumstances and no one mentioned the “V” word for quite some time.
What strikes us in present day is the engraving found on her tombstone: “I am waiting and watching for you”.
Considering the time when Nellie was buried, the line doesn`t really stand out because it was a common belief that the family would reunite in heaven after death [I am waiting…] and back then people believed in friendly ghosts that watched over them [… and watching for you].
So how did Nellie get vamped?
She was buried [in the Plain Meeting House Road cemetery, West Greenwich] and as time passed she was allowed to rest but supposedly around 1967, a teacher referred to a vampire located in a cemetery off [state] route 102. Since that hint also applies to ~Mercy Brown~ over in Exeter, we can only assume that the teacher was talking about her.
The students went looking a little bit closer to home looking to match the age [as provided by the teacher]… and when they found that interesting engraving they believed they got a hold of the infamous vampire in the person of Nellie Vaughn.
But things don`t end here…
Over the years there have been a lot of “sightings” for the ghost of Nellie.
Paranormals stated that she is manifesting herself because she is angered by the claims that she is a vampire. At first she would appear only around her grave, but because of the repeated acts of vandalism against her tombstone, the officials opted to relocate the stone [some say it was shattered] – giving a free pass to Nellie so that she now haunts the whole cemetery.
Many such experiences are told by a woman named Marlene.
The first event happened in 1993 while she was doing some gravestone rubbings with her husband. They claim the man was attacked by Nellie; a disembodied female voice whisper, “I am perfectly pleasant” and then and unseen entity scratched his face.
Over the years many others have claimed that they heard the same phrase while passing by the grave, then again, it`s all over the internet now 😉
Marlene claims she had a second experience during a later visit when she came across a beautiful lady that claimed she is a member of the local historian society and offered to give her a tour of the cemetery.
When they got to Nellie`s grave the obvious subject was brought up and the woman suffered a change in her attitude and started to mumble agitated while staring at Marlene: “Nellie was never a vampire. Nellie was never a vampire.” over and over again. The woman decided to leave as soon as possible and as she was exiting the cemetery she turned to look for the historian but she had disappeared and the small graveyard was deserted.
Interesting enough, since the tombstone was removed less acts of vandalism were recorded and the officials hope that in time people won`t remember where the grave is anymore.
Now there is grass all around and above the tomb!
For this is in fact the story of a vampire who never was a vampire… or was it the ghost of a vampire…. who never was a vampire………. Nellie Vaughn will forever be linked to vampirism.
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In February of 1793, the friends and family of Captain Isaac Burton disinterred the remains of his first wife, Rachel Harris.
Captain Isaac Burton — a deacon in the congregational church — had wed Rachel Harris in 1789 and at the time of the wedding she was a healthy, beautiful girl but within a year she passed because of consumption.
About a year later, Burton married again and this time the lucky bride was Hulda Powel [believe it or not, she was actually al older sister of Rachel].
Soon after the wedding she fell ill and it seamed that the capt. was cursed for the disease seamed to progress faster in this case.
The citizens went frantic.
They were induced to believe that if the vitals of the first wife could be consumed by being burned in a charcoal fire it would act as a cure for the sick second wife.
Such was the strange delusion that they disinterred the first wife who had been buried about three years.
At least five hundred (maybe as many as a thousand) citizens of Manchester, Vermont, looked on as Timothy Mead removed Rachel’s liver, heart, and lungs and, on Jacob Mead’s blacksmith’s forge, burned them to ashes.
The ritual proved futile and Hulda died later that year [on September 6] and I have come across references that suggest that the death of the 2 wives were linked to witchcraft rather than vampirism.
The graved of both Rachel and Hulda remain unknown as there is a large number of unmarked graves around the one of Capt. Burton and his 4th wife – located in an old burial ground in Dellwood Cemetery in Manchester [where they were relocated].
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† Vampire Accounts