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A True Rhode Island Vampire

In Rhode Island in the late 1700s lived a 19-year-old girl named Sarah Tillinghast. Sarah was a dreamy girl, spending her days wandering small graveyards where Revolutionary soldiers lay. She was known to bring a book of poetry to these places and seat herself on a grave slab and read for hours on end. One day as she returned home from one of her visits she professed herself ill and took to her bed. Soon after she had a horrible fever and within weeks she was dead.

The Tillinghast family was still grieving some weeks later when Sarah’s brother, James, came down to breakfast looking pale, shivering and complaining of a weight on his chest. He claimed that Sarah had come to him and sat on his bed. Sarah and James’ parents thought it was nothing but his grief playing tricks with his mind.

The next day James was even paler and could barely breathe. Soon after, James was also dead.

But Sarah and James were just the beginning – shortly after their deaths two more Tillinghast children died, both saying beforehand that Sarah had visited them. These claims were quite frightening for the Tillinghast parents, for it meant that Sarah was returning from the dead to draw the life from remaining family members. The rumors spread through the town, all saying one word – Vampire!

Not before too long there were more deaths, and all of the victims claimed that it was Sarah that they saw right before the sickness took hold.  Then finally Honour Tillinghast, the mother of all the dead children, too became sick. Honour lay in her death bed swearing that her lost children were calling out to her.

This was when Snuffy Tillinghast, the father, finally took a stand. With the help of his farmhand, Caleb, he went out early morning to the cemetery where Sarah was buried. He took with him a long hunting knife and a container of lamp oil.

The two men reached Sarah’s grave and together dug up her casket and opened its creaking lid. Even though she had been put to rest 18 months ago Sarah looked as if she were asleep, there was no decomposition. After seeing his daughter’s face flushed as if with blood he took his knife and cut out her bleeding heart. It is said her body gushed with blood. Snuffy Tillinghast then set his daughter’s heart on fire and burned it to ashes.

After the heart was burned the deathly ill Honour Tillinghast recovered fully and there were no more strange deaths or Sarah sightings in the Rhode Island town again.

– Moonlight

American Vampirereal vampireRhode Island vampiresarah tillinghastvampire historyvampire myth

Moonlight • February 21, 2010

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  1. vampires
  2. Christine February 21, 2010 - 8:51 am Reply

    Interesting story – I have read about New England vampires but not about this one!

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  4. shalyn hatfield February 21, 2010 - 7:45 pm Reply

    thats really cool. i love vampires so reading this and showing to people is amazing.

  5. Chris July 24, 2010 - 3:31 pm Reply

    IS this made up?

  6. Chris July 24, 2010 - 3:32 pm Reply

    Is this made up… Seems lacking of facts and references.

    • Moonlight July 24, 2010 - 4:58 pm Reply

      I did NOT make this up, and we are not required to list our references here. If you bothered to pick up any book on vampires, then you will find this legend inside.

      • Anon March 21, 2013 - 7:27 pm Reply

        Legend implies a non true or embellished story handed down through generations so I’m gonna say it’s not real at all. Oh btw not citing your sources is a HUGE sign something is bs.

        • Moonlight March 22, 2013 - 7:40 am Reply

          Few blogs site their sources. It’s a blog, not a research paper. Like I said to the person above, pick up any book on vampires and you will find the story. Try The Vampire Encyclopedia. I didn’t say that this really happened, I said I didn’t make it up. It’s not my story, just one I retold.

      • miracle May 3, 2013 - 10:10 am Reply

        just because its in any vampire book doesnt mean its real.

  7. Avema Penaluna October 8, 2010 - 10:56 pm Reply

    What town did the Tillinghast family live in?

    • andrew November 13, 2010 - 3:02 pm Reply

      they lived in EXETER

  8. Here, here I am
  9. andrew November 13, 2010 - 3:00 pm Reply

    were are her graves

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  11. Robert Steingraber November 30, 2013 - 12:31 am Reply

    I don’t know if this storyis true or if just a legend from beliefs of the time. I’ve also heard her called a “Witch” but ICAN say the family is real. They are in my fmaily tree. A sister of Sarah’s grandfather married William Bentley (her name was Elizabeth Tillinghast) and their fist son was TIllinghast Bentley who was a big soldier in teh Revolution years before this incident. Sarha’s father’s name was Stukely (not Stuckley) and her mother was Honor Hopkins and there were 13 children in the family.

  12. Darrell April 15, 2014 - 6:38 pm Reply

    I heard this story from an author named “Rosemary Ellen Guiley” on “The encyclopedia of Vampires, wrerrwolves, and monsters”. This article was inside the book!

  13. ilovegiselleforever October 25, 2014 - 11:52 am Reply

    This could be true because it was so long ago. Also back in 1843 there was a town the was known for vampires and have seen and witnessed vampires. Deaths happened bodies drained of blood bite marks on people’s necks. They shot half
    of them and threw them in a church and burned them alive. Still to this day i don’t think all of them died.

  14. Jennifer R Wade November 6, 2015 - 6:01 pm Reply

    I will be heading to Rhode Island in the summer. I will make it a point to go the Exeter. I find this story fascinating. Whether a legend or a true story. You have to admit that the mystery of all of this is incredible.

  15. we dem bois May 7, 2016 - 10:29 pm Reply

    My last name is actually Tillinghast.
    Fiction or fact, I heard this from my father and it’s spooky.

  16. istogdill August 18, 2016 - 12:52 am Reply

    I just don’t get the casket part…

  17. Giza September 15, 2016 - 10:59 pm Reply

    Vollmond aus Exeter

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