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On September 26, 1859, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal,
The savage in man is never quite eradicated. I have just read of a family in Vermont– who, several of its members having died of consumption, just burned [?] the lungs & heart & liver of the last deceased, in order to prevent any more from having it.
“Consumption” is tuberculosis, from which Thoreau died a few years later, decades before the bacterial cause of the disease was identified. Until then, macabre incidents like Thoreau’s happened in New England. When a living person seemed to have their life force gradually sucked out, then family and friends might look to the graveyard to find someone who’s responsible.
There were cases of vampires all over the world before, during, and even after Dracula both seduced and frightened us -- one of these cases was Mercy Brown, the Rhode Island vampire. Mercy Brown has the distinction of being the last of the North American vampires -- at least in the traditional sense. Mercy Lena Brown was a farmer's daughter and an upstanding member of rural Exeter, Rhode Island. She was only 19 years old when she died of consumption on January 17, 1892. On March 17, 1892, Mercy's body would be exhumed from the cemetery because members of the community suspected the vampire Mercy Brown was attacking her dying brother, Edwin.