That’s a Lotta Cemeteries!
You’ve likely heard about the tradition of vampires in New England. Anyone who’s given even a cursory study to vampire myth and legend knows about it, the Mercy Browns and the Frederick Ransoms, et al. Thoreau wrote the following about it: “The savage in man is never quite eradicated. I have just read of a family in Vermont—who, several of its members having died of consumption, just burned the lungs and heart and liver of the last deceased, in order to prevent any more from having it.” People from Rhode Island especially were considered backwards and stupid because of the prevalence of cases of vampirism in that state. Looking at the above map, which shows historic cemeteries as dispersed throughout Rhode Island, it’s easier to understand why the fear of vampires might have been more pronounced there. Rhode Island is a small state to begin with, and just look at all those red dots. The entire state is rotten with graveyards! Looking at the map, it makes it seem the whole state was nothing *but* graveyards!
We think of colonial New England and we think of the Puritans, but there were lots of other folks living there who didn’t belong to that sect, and some who didn’t belong to any denomination at all, as high as 90% of the population according to some sources. This number seems a bit high to me, but certainly there was room for a lot of superstition and folk belief in the populace beyond the influence of the Puritans, and this no doubt enriched the fertile ground from which the “vampire panic” sprang.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!