Exeter, Rhode Island
Exeter is located in Washington County, Rhode Island. The population of Exeter is approximately 7,000 residents.
The Mercy Brown Vampire Incident – Information:
To find the Mercy Brown grave:
from Route 95 take exit 5 to Victory Highway (Route 102) south to Route 3 south (Nooseneck Hill Road); take a right on Route 3, then an immediate left onto Route 102 (Victory Highway); the cemetery is 5.1 miles on the left; enter the cemetery and drive straight back, past a rock wall; the Brown family plot is on the left next to a cedar tree; the crypt where Mercy’s body was briefly kept is to your right, at the edge of the cemetery.
The Mercy Brown Vampire Incident took place in 1892. It is one of the best documented cases of the exhumation of a corpse in order to perform a ritual to banish an “undead” manifestation.
The family of George and Mary Brown in Exeter, Rhode Island suffered from deadly tuberculosis infections in the 1880’s and 1890’s. At the time, tuberculosis was often referred to as “consumption”. Mary Brown, the mother, was the first to die from consumption on December 8, 1883. She was 36 years old. Less than 6 months later, on June 6, 1884, the oldest daughter, Mary Olive, died from the disease. She was 20 years old.
For seven years, illness evaded the Brown family. But then, son Edwin, a healthy 24 year old store clerk, caught tuberculosis. He moved to Colorado Springs with his wife to try to find a cure in the mineral waters there. But while Edwin was gone, his sister, Mercy Lena Brown became ill and then died on January 18, 1892. Her body was buried in the cold frozen soil at Chestnut Hill Cemetery, also known today as Historical Cemetery #22 in Exeter, Rhode Island.
Friends and neighbors believed that one of the dead family members was a vampire (though they did not use this term) and caused Edwin’s illness. Folklore at the time was that multiple deaths in one family was due to “undead activity”.
George Brown was thus persuaded to exhume the bodies of his dead family members on March 17, 1892. Villagers helped out with this task. And they found that though the bodies of mother Mary and daughter Mary Olive had decomposed quite significantly, the most recently buried body of Mercy Brown was still mostly unchanged, had even moved ever so slightly into a different position inside the coffin, and still had blood still in the heart. Mercy Brown was thus believed to be “undead” and the real cause of Edwin’s illness.
In reality, Mercy Brown’s body had been buried in the freezing cold soil for 2 months and her body had barely decomposed because of these conditions. Needless to say, however, her heart was removed from her body, burnt on a nearby stone wall, and the remnants mixed with water. Edwin, who had returned from Colorado feeling a bit better, was given the water-ash mixture to drink as a sort of talismanic potion. Edwin died two months later on May 2, 1892.
The Mercy Brown vampire incident was the last of five alleged Rhode Island vampire cases that dated back to 1796. The ability to cure tuberculosis with antibiotics contributed to the decline in the vampire craze as well as the new practice of embalming in rural areas. Embalming bodies made it less plausible that vampire were rising from their graves to search for blood.
Ghosts and the Paranormal at Mercy Brown’s Grave in Exeter, Rhode Island:
The crypt where Mercy Brown was briefly interred is only a few dozen yards from the Brown graves. The stone where Mercy’s hear was burned is about one yard away from her mother’s headstone.
A strange ball of light has been reported hovering over Mercy Brown’s grave. Some have reported seeing strange, evil faces in tombstone rubbings of Mercy Brown’s grave.
Quahog.org (1999-2011). Grave of Mercy L. Brown. Retrieved May 25, 2011 from http://www.quahog.org/attractions/index.php?id=50
Wikiepedia (2011) Mercy Brown vampire incident. Retrieved May 25, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercy_Brown_vampire_incident
Wikipedia (2011). Exeter, Rhode Island. Retrieved May 25, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exeter,_Rhode_Island
Shadowlord (1998). Haunted Places Index. Retrieved May 25, 2011 from http://shadowlands.net/haunted_places/rhodeisland.htm