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Vampires of New England

Vampires of New England
Above: Vampire hunters from a 19th century engraving. Source: National Geographic

In the late 19th century, a mysterious curse swept through New England bringing death and disease wherever it went. In its wake, a new wave of panic grasped towns through the region that echoed the mass hysteria of the witch trials from 200 years ago. To some, the source of death could only be caused by one thing: vampirism.

Family members grew pale and died one after another to an unseen force. Desperate for answers, townsfolk exhumed the bodies of recently passed relatives only to find the bodies fresh with running blood beneath the skin. In an attempt to stop the curse, the afflicted cadavers had their organs removed and burnt in a ritualistic cleanse.

Of course, vampires weren't actually rising from the grave to haunt their families. Doctors of the time saw the true culprit; ashen skin, a weakening body, and persistent coughs all pointed to tuberculosis. As for the preserved bodies, experts think the cold New England climate kept them from decomposition. The people's fear was more powerful than the science behind the illness though. In a time before germ theory was well known and medicine had failed, people tried anything to save the ones they loved even if the solutions were fantastical.

The panic of these events stayed in folklore even to this day, with the myth of a consuming vampire who sleeps in the earth directly inspiring Bram Stoker's Dracula. For more on the history of vampires, check out our Dracula Soil specimen!
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