Mercy Lena Brown, the Grave of a Suspected Vampire in Rhode Island

The grave of Mercy Lena Brown photo by Ronald Correia

The grave of Mercy Lena Brown photo by Ronald Correia

Mercy Lena Brown developed a bad reputation for being a vampire. 19th-century farm families in New England were exhuming their relatives from their graves, suspicious that they were vampires, or as they called them, “undead”.


In 1883 Mercy’s family members began dropping like flies. It was not terribly uncommon then for people to keel over and die as there were a host of illnesses and very poor public health systems in place, but mostly because of “consumption” or, what we now call tuberculosis. In 1892 at the ripe young age of 19, Mercy died…or did she?


“The Mercy Brown Vampire Incident, which occurred in 1892, is one of the best documented cases of the exhumation of a corpse in order to perform rituals to banish an undead manifestation.” -Wikipedia 


Two months after her burial her body was exhumed. Strangely, it was found displaced. Her heart was said to be found fresh and completely unscathed by rigor mortis. Her heart was immediately removed and burned.


Such a practice was becoming more common at that time due to great superstitions that surrounded consumption. Her disembodied organ was thought to be a healing agent and was mixed with water in an effort to make a medicinal concoction. It was then fed to her dying brother Edwin, who died just two months later, despite drinking his sister’s dead heart.


You can still visit the grave of Mercy Lena Brown…if you dare. She is buried at the Baptist Church in Exeter, Rhode Island.

As always, your experience, suggestions and questions are enjoyed!


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

9 Comments on this post

  1. Another intriguing post, Christa! Superstition ruled people’s lives and led to many tragedies! I will be travelling in New England in the Fall for the first time. Is Salem worth a visit?

    diaspora52 / Reply
  2. Another cool site. Can’t imagine how much they shit their pants when they dug her up.

    Christopher De Voss / Reply
  3. “Mercy Lena developed a bad reputation for being a vampire.” — that is just a great opening sentence. XD

    deshipley / Reply
  4. What a great story. Its a fascinating subject. Vampirism exists in almost every culture right back to ancient times from the Jumlin of the Native American Indian tribes, the Dearg Due in Ireland, The Vertalas in India, the list is endless. It was the Irish Writer Bram Stoker whom is best known for our modern depiction of the Vampire.
    Back in the day though this was no twighlight scenario, mass hysteria was common and Vampirism was atributed to anything which was unexplainable at the time. Most common was of ending the dead for eternity were removal and the burning of the heart, decapitation, placing stones on top of the corpse or putting a brick in the mouth of the suspected vampire. Steaking the corpse was also believed to work, depending on where you lived various types of wood were preferrable, mainly, Ash or Hawthorn. There have been hundreds of Vampire graves uncovered across europe, but most cases have been reasonably explained.
    I read a great novel on holidays by James Becker called the Nosferatu Scroll’, Its well worth the read if you get a chance, 🙂

    edmooneyphotography / Reply
    • How cool. I would love to visit vampire graves when I have more time to road trip through the UK and Europe. Those are the type of hidden gems I love to find. Maybe I will try yo put together a google map for that.

      I don’t get the chance to read much other than people’s blogs and articles online but I will keep it in mind for October when I am stuck in a car for hours driving through New England 🙂 Thank you x

      PS Did you get my email? I sent you a pretty cool map 🙂

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