The case of Mercy Brown, like many cases of vampire scares across the world, is intriguing. It occurred in the late 1800s in Rhode Island, the vampire capital of the world. Farmer George Brown had a problem, and the residents of Exeter, Rhode Island, were aware of it. First, his wife, Mary Brown, passed away in 1883 from an unknown disease.
His 20-year-old daughter Mary Olive Brown also got sick and died six months later. Within a few years, George’s 19-year-old daughter Mercy Brown also passed away, and his otherwise healthy teenage son Edwin Brown, a store worker, suddenly became weak and ill.
George was advised by the local doctor that “consumption” was killing off his family. However, Exeter’s rural residents had another explanation. A darker and even more sinister one.
What Was Happening In Rhode Island In The 1800s?
The most common cause of death in the US in 1892 was TB. Its signs at the time were weariness, nocturnal sweats, coughing up white phlegm, or even frothy blood, and it was known as “consumption.”
There was no effective therapy or cure for TB. Doctors frequently advised patients with the condition to “rest, eat well, and exercise outdoors.” These DIY solutions rarely worked, of course. There was an 80% mortality rate for those with active tuberculosis.
The horror of such a horrible death sheds light on the craziness that gripped the small Rhode Island town of Exeter at the turn of the 20th century. Even though Mercy Brown was already dead from the same ailment, the town’s residents started to worry that she was a “vampire” responsible for consumption-related deaths.
It all began in 1884, when George Brown, a farmer, lost his wife, Mary Eliza, to TB. His oldest daughter passed away from the same ailment two years after his wife had passed away.
The Brown family would soon experience another catastrophe. People started to believe that something much eviler than an illness was to blame as the family members passed away.
The “Vampire” Mercy Brown Incident
Until Edwin Brown, George Brown’s son, fell gravely ill in 1891, the rest of the family seemed to be in good condition. He withdrew to Colorado Springs, hoping the warmer temperature would help him heal. However, he arrived back in Exeter in 1892 in a worse condition.
Mercy Lena Brown, Edwin’s sister, passed away from tuberculosis in the same year at the age of just 19. And when Edwin’s condition deteriorated quickly, his father’s desperation grew.
While this was happening, several worried villagers started relating an old folktale to George Brown. According to the superstition, “…in some unexplainable and irrational way, live flesh and blood might be found in some portion of the departed relative’s corpse, which is said to feed on the living who are in poor health.”
In essence, the myth contends that when members of the same family get less and less interested in food, it may be because one of the recently deceased is robbing their surviving relatives of life force.
According to a local newspaper:
Until Wednesday, the remains of the wife and two girls were excavated and examined under the supervision of Harold Metcalf, M.D. of Wickford. Mr. Brown refused to give the antiquated notion much credibility.
In actuality, each member of the family who had passed away from tuberculosis had their bodies excavated that morning, March 17, 1892, by a doctor and other villagers. They discovered skeletons in the graves of Brown’s wife and oldest daughter.
The doctor discovered that Mercy Brown’s nine-week-old remains, however, appeared stunningly healthy and undamaged. Blood was also discovered in Mercy Brown’s liver and heart. The locals’ suspicions that Mercy Brown was a vampire who had been suckling the life out of her living relatives seemed to be confirmed by this.
Was Mercy Brown A Vampire?
The doctor tried to convince the villagers that Mercy Brown’s preserved state was normal. She had been interred in the chilly winter, after all. However, the superstitious townspeople insisted on cutting out and burning her heart and liver before reburying her.
After that, Edwin was given a meal of the ashes and water. Unfortunately, this paranormal mixture could not heal him despite everyone’s best efforts. A mere two months later, Edwin passed away.
Until the early 20th century, such customs as excavating and burning the dead out of paranoia regarding vampire-like monsters were prevalent in many Western nations. Although the Mercy Brown case was far from unique, her exhumation marked the end of an era for these rites with vampire overtones.
The Final Vampire of New England
Mercy Brown lived a relatively brief life, but we may presume that because of tales that have been passed down through the years, she will always be remembered as the “Last New England Vampire.”
According to reports, her surviving family members collected local newspaper cuttings in family scrapbooks and frequently brought up the incident on Decoration Day, when town people decorated nearby cemeteries.
Today, tourists and enquiring individuals frequently visit Mercy Brown’s grave site, leaving behind presents like jewels and fake vampire teeth. There was once a letter there that said, “You go, girl.”
Evidently, none of those occurred during the late 19th-century vampire hysteria.
Even though German researcher Robert Koch identified the tuberculosis-causing germs in 1882, germ theory only really took off a decade later as the spread of the disease was better known. After that, infection rates started to decline as nutrition and cleanliness standards rose.
Before that time, people continued to accuse suspected vampires like Mercy Brown, even though they were no longer living to speak for themselves.
Where is the Grave of Mercy Brown?
Mercy’s burial can still be found today in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, a small cemetery located a few miles from I-95 behind a small, white Baptist church on Ten Rod Road. The Brown family plot is located behind an evergreen tree about halfway down the path that runs through the cemetery’s center.
RIP Mercy Brown.
Modern Burials That Would Be Mistaken for Vampirism in the Past!
These days, there are dozens of creative options for you to be buried. But not all are good for the body. As it turns out, some are not good for the environment, either.
Warning: This part of this article can positively make you feel too morbid. Viewer discretion is advised.
There is a serious corpse problem in Norway that is not going away any time soon. They won’t actually decay. Who or what is to blame for the abundance of bodies that defy the natural order of life? Plastic wrap is the same thing that keeps your sandwich fresh.
Following World War II, Norway’s funeral customs included covering the dead in a layer of plastic to make sure they were airtight before placing them in wooden coffins for the Big Sleep. Evidently, they thought it was more hygienic. But after hundreds of thousands of interments, Norwegian funeral directors are in a precarious situation.
The recently deceased are left high and dry (figuratively speaking) as these non-rotting corpses squat on desirable burial sites.
Nothing is more annoying than a corpse that refuses to rot. Particularly for Norwegian funeral directors, who are currently faced with a somewhat grim situation: thousands of plastic-wrapped dead remains taking up valuable space in the nation’s cemeteries.
The act of wrapping people in plastic, according to former graveyard worker Kjell Larsen Ostbye, “was probably the product of some really poor planning.” Mr. Ostbye presented Ms. Eckbo a practical suggestion based on what he had learned in chemistry class.
He reasoned that the decomposition would be sped up by making holes in the ground and through the plastic, followed by the injection of a lime-based solution into the corpse. It was successful.
Nomias has now completed the procedure on 17,000 graves in different cities that are in Norwegian. He faces a challenging task because an estimated 350,000 plastic tombs were made.
Decay can be halted without being too difficult or expensive. Each grave takes just 10 minutes, and nothing is left behind. A body will decay within a year, just as grass will grow over holes in the ground after two weeks.
Swedish engineer Rikard Karlsson, who quit the cement-mixing industry to assist Mr. Ostbye in perfecting his procedures, praised the quality of the work. Mr. Karlsson remarked, “Somebody’s got to do it.” The corporation receives 4,000 Norwegian Kroner, or roughly $670, from the city of Oslo for each grave.
Ms. Carlsson, a retired worker, adds, “It has to be a relief for people who are covered in plastic.” “Perhaps the soul is now going where it ought to go.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?