The Last New England Vampire
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries there was a widespread belief in vampires throughout New England. The vampiric condition became associated with the deadly Tuberculosis, a disease misunderstood at the time and therefore the cause of much superstition.
It was believed to cause nightly visitations from previously deceased victims, as well as bringing general sickness and multiple deaths to the family. As a result, there are various accounts of families having their deceased disinterred for the purpose of removing their hearts and bringing to an end their reign of terror, and the most famous of these cases is that of Mercy Brown.
There had been numerous deaths as a result of TB within the Brown family. Mercy’s mother and sister had died within a few years of one another, then, in 1892, Mercy herself succumbed to the illness.
Mercy’s brother Edwin was also ill and, in accordance with the aforementioned folklore, Mercy’s father was persuaded to exhume the bodies of his dead relatives in an attempt to cure his son. The mother and sister’s body were found to have undergone significant decomposition, however, Mercy’s body remained relatively unchanged*: a clear sign that she was undead and the agent of Edwin’s condition.
As a result, her heart was removed, burnt, mixed with water and fed to Edwin. He died two months later.
* A cold New England winter likely caused this.
[Sources: Image | Mercy Brown Vampire Incident | Vampire]