The Return of Blood Sucking Fiends Part III: A Girl Named Mercy

Mercy Brown Gravestone

In 1892, darkness and hysteria descended upon an unlikely small town. The citizens believed the undead were in their midst feeding upon their friends and neighbors and spreading a deadly disease. You might be thinking this fear of vampiric fiends occurred in some far away eastern European village where such beliefs were common among the peasantry of the land. Not hardly, it happened right here in the United States in the New England town of Exeter, Rhode Island. It was there where a series of nightmarish events unfolded and a young girl named Mercy received anything but solace from those closest to her.

The strange events began in 1886 when the grim specter of death set its cold gaze upon the family of George Brown. The lady of the house, Mary fell ill with a mysterious disease that turned the once vivacious woman into something resembling a living corpse. The disease known at the time as consumption took Mary’s life, but it wasn’t done with her. The wasting disease was just getting started.

Five years later, Mary Eliza Brown, the eldest daughter, succumbed to the ravages of consumption. The following year, Mercy perished and Edwin, the only son, took ill as well. George Brown was understandably devastated by the decimation of his beloved family. In most cases, friends and neighbors would pour out their love and support, giving comfort to the grieving widower. Not so in this instance. George Brown received none of that. In fact, those closest to him added insult to injury, by suggesting someone in the family was to blame for the sickness that claimed his clan and whoever that may be was undoubtedly an inhuman monster found only in the blackest imaginings of humankind.

In the interest of explaining the deaths in the Brown family, ancient old-world superstitions were invoked. Several members of the community suggested that one of the dead Brown women was a vampire and there was only one way to determine who the inhuman monster was. The bodies of the Brown women must be exhumed and inspected for signs of vampirism – a wholly gruesome task.

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When the request was brought to George Brown, he was aghast at the very notion that one of his dearly departed was a vile predator of the night. Nevertheless, George Brown was eventually persuaded that this was the best course of action to rid the town of the vampire. And in March of 1892, this small New England town became a scene straight out of a late-night horror film.

On the mist enshrouded morning of March 17, several townspeople accompanied by a priest, a doctor and a reporter made their way to the cemetery to carry out the unenviable task of exhuming the bodies of the three Brown women. Mary and Mary Eliza were the first to have their eternal slumber disturbed. Everyone present were pleased to see the elder Brown women showed signs of decomposition. They were then laid back to rest with a blessing. When they came to Mercy, well, it was a much different story.

Unlike her mother and older sister, Mercy showed no signs of decay, and upon further examination fresh blood was discovered in her heart and upon her lips. For the people of Exeter this could only mean one thing, Mercy Brown was a damned creature who caused the horror inflicted on the Brown family. If they were not swift in dispatching the monster to the abyss, she would return from the grave and visit more death upon the once sleepy little town.

Before the town dealt with Mercy, attention turned to Edwin who was languishing at home and appeared to be on the verge of death. Something must be done to save his soul and bring him back from the brink of death. 

According to old world practices, the only way to save the boy’s life was to burn Mercy’s heart and liver to ash. They would then mix it into a tonic and Edwin must drink it. They believed the foul concoction would reverse the effects of the disease and return him to health. It was further believed it would keep the young from sharing in his sister’s accursed fate. Young Mercy was cut up and Edwin drank the charred remains of his sister. And as you would expect, the cure failed to work. Edwin held on for two months and joined his mother and sisters in the cold embrace of death. A tragic end to a tragic episode in the history of the United States.

The Mercy Brown vampire incident, as it is known in history, revealed just how much the fear-based superstitions of the old world were alive and well in the new. We now know this disease called consumption was not the work of vampires or the undead, but rather by a bacterial infection known today as tuberculosis. Thankfully, this illness is becoming a thing of the past due to the discovery of antibiotics. This disease, like the purported attacks of the undead, kills indiscriminately.

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About Rick Hale 86 Articles
Rick Hale became interested in anomalous phenomenon at an early age after encountering an apparition in his grandparent's home. Rick is the author of "The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghost and Demons," and "Behold! Shocking True Tales Off Terror...And Some Other Spooky Stuff." Rick has been published in Haunted Times Magazine, Paranormal Underground Magazine, The Supernatural Magazine, Spookyisles.com and Legends Magazine. Rick appeared in Ghost Tapes 2 and Ghost Tapes: The Series found at YouTube.com.

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