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Michael Bell
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Posted By Michael Bell

I recently found a newspaper article from 1874 that describes a vampire incident involving a prominent family in Poland (which was part of Germany at that time). The case was so similar to one that I had encountered almost exactly three years ago that I decided to compare the two. One of the remarkable things about the latter is that it occurred in Winona, Minnesota, in 1922.  You read correctly: in the United States, during the first quarter of the twentieth century. The Winona case unfolded over a period of less than a week, but each of the four successive newspaper articles that described the event added new information. The first revelation of this event appeared in the Winona Republican-Herald on January 5, 1922. Following is the first of several installments concerning this fascinating narrative:

GRAVE TO BE OPENED TO
FIND WHETHER BODY OF
GIRL HAS BEEN MOLESTED
_____

Police and Cemetery Officials to Determine
Truth or Falsity of Rumor That Girl’s Body
Was Beheaded in Superstitious Belief That
Such Action Would End Series of Deaths in
Local Family—Parents of Girl Deny Any
Knowledge of Body Having Been Molested
—Sexton Finds Two Graves Tampered With
—Five Sons Have Died Since Death of Girl
About Five Years Ago.
_____

FANTASTIC SUPERSTITION BLAMED

_____

To determine whether the body of Miss Frances Bloch, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bloch, 879 East Sanborn street, has been exhumed, and, according to persistent rumors, beheaded as a means of ending illness and death in the family, Winona police and officials of the St. Mary’s Cemetery association will tomorrow re-open two graves in the cemetery which, according to Sexton George Kammerer, former chief of police here, have been tampered with in the past 10 days.

No permits to open any of the Bloch family graves have been issued to anyone to date, Coroner E. M. McLaughlin stated this morning. If the graves have been tampered with or molested, local officials declared, it has been in violation of the law, and the offenders are liable to heavy punishment.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Bloch deny any knowledge that their daughter’s grave has been opened and the body decapitated.

The action of the police and cemetery officials were decided upon today in an effort to determine the truth or falsity of reports which have been current for several days. The rumors, some of which are highly fantastic, have found wide currency.

The superstition which is said to have formed the basis for the reported act is one that is said to be common among the peasant classes in many sections of Europe.

In families where death claims several, it is sometimes believed that the spirit of the first to die is responsible for the death of the others. By cutting off the head of this body, according to the superstition, and placing it in another part of the casket, the powers of the dead body are ended.The belief varies in different sections of the continent and among various classes of people.

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To be continued . . .

 
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