The Salem witch hunt was perhaps the most famous and large-scale process of loss of life due to prejudice. Then, due to accusations of witchcraft, about 200 people were imprisoned, of which at least five died, and another 20 were executed. However, two centuries later, a new panic began in the same region - this time they began to hunt vampires.
The most revealing story is that of Mercy Lena Brown. She lived with her parents and brother and sister in a family home in a small town in Rhode Island. In 1883, misfortune came to their family - their mother, Mary Eliza Brown, fell ill with tuberculosis and died. It was a grievous death that tortured the woman to a state of complete exhaustion.
A year later, 20-year-old Mary Olive, the eldest daughter of the Brown family, died. The next person to cough up blood was Edwin, the middle son of the family. He packed his things and left the city closer to the mountains, where he felt better.
At that time, almost nothing was known about tuberculosis. People did not understand the cause of the disease, and did not know at all how to get rid of it. And therefore, when a few years later, the youngest daughter of the Browns, Mercy, Lena, also fell ill, these cases were not connected in any way. Mercy's disease developed very quickly, and within a year she completely exhausted her. Her brother Edwin drove back to the family home, but when he arrived, his sister had already been buried.
After returning to the damp and cold climate, Edwin felt worse again. The inhabitants of the town thought that all this, apparently, was not without reason. Surely there are vampires here somewhere - they decided and convinced the head of the Brown family, George, to allow all the deceased members of his family to be dug up.
So, on March 17, 1892, a group of local men moved to the cemetery and one by one dug up Mary Olive, Mary Eliza and Mercy Lena. "Here! This is proof! " - the initiators of this process exclaimed. Almost nothing remained of the remains of her mother and eldest daughter, while Mercy Lena, who had been lying in the ground for just a couple of months, lay as if she had been buried only the other day. In vain did the local doctor assure the residents of the city that the reason for such a state of the body was exclusively in the cold climate, they saw in this indisputable proof that it was Mercy Lena who was a vampire who sucked life from her relatives at night.
The girl's heart and liver were cut out, burned at the stake to ashes, and Edwin was forced to eat the ashes. He died two months later. Obviously, the hunt for vampires did not help him recover, but the locals probably found some explanation for this.
This was the last documented vampire hunt, but far from the only one. According to circumstantial evidence, historians believe that this hunt was then very popular and covered all of New England. These cases were not written in the press, since all the "victims" were already dead by that time, but journalists and writers nevertheless mentioned it in passing, and the number of mutilated bodies in cemeteries speaks in support of this hunt.
The "vampires" were cut off their heads, cut out their hearts, broke off their shin bones - in general, they did everything possible to prevent them "from continuing to hunt innocent people." So, for example, they tried to stop a certain "J.B." (these initials were on the coffin, it was not possible to find more information about this deceased) - they cut off his head, pulled out the shin bones and neatly folded them on his chest. And they buried it again.
In most cases, the alleged vampires were buried back in the ground without leaving them a gravestone, so it is impossible to accurately determine the number of victims of this hunt. People at that time could not believe that tuberculosis was caused by a microorganism - it was much easier to blame mystical forces for this.
Robert Koch discovered the causative agent of tuberculosis in Germany in 1882. In the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, 80% of the population was infected before the age of 20, and tuberculosis was the leading cause of death. For the first time, scientists created a vaccine strain of bacteria and introduced it to a newborn only in 1921, and after another 7 years they began to vaccinate children en masse.
The hunt for vampires, who were supposedly to blame for the fact that people fell ill with tuberculosis, continued almost until the twentieth century. And if there is at least something good in this story, it is the fact that, fortunately, it was possible to avoid the hunt for living people - all the "vampires" of that time were searched exclusively among the dead.
Nowadays, the vampire theme is shrouded more in a romantic veil than in fear. So, for example, even in Japan you can find themed cafe in crimson tones, where instead of tables there are coffins, and ordinary ketchup on plates looks more than ominous in the light of candelabra.
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