Vampires of New England

Often these rituals were clandestine, lantern-lit affairs. But, particularly in Vermont, they could be quite public, even festive. One vampire heart was reportedly torched on the Woodstock, Vermont, town green in 1830. In Manchester, hundreds of people flocked to a 1793 heart-burning ceremony at a blacksmith’s forge: “Timothy Mead officiated at the altar in the sacrifice to the Demon Vampire who it was believed was still sucking the blood of the then living wife of Captain Burton,” an early town history says. “It was the month of February and good sleighing.”

Smithsonian magazine has a long and fascinating article on “The Great New England Vampire Panic” of the 19th century, and it includes mention of an almost suspiciously svelte folklorist who’s “devoted much of the previous decade to studying New England vampire exhumations” (!), as well as the story of a 19th-century vampire named Lena — whose quilt, if you make it to the end, is pictured here.

[Thanks, Abby!]

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