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Michael Bell
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Posted By Michael Bell

Boston Globe, January 27, 1896
From the subtle insertions of Edith Wharton to the explicit inclusions of Manly Wade Wellman, most stories that hinge on authentic vampire traditions are clear regarding their fictional status. But sometimes the boundary between fiction and nonfiction is deliberately blurred. A good case in point is a narrative about vampires published anonymously in the Boston Globe on January 27, 1896.

Under a drawing of a man with a long beard, wearing comically rustic clothing and carrying a buggy whip, walking next to a cart hitched to a horse and a pair of oxen, is the caption: “A member of the anti-vampire party.” The illustration is a paradigm for the narrative that follows, mixing the factual and fanciful in what surely was meant to be a parody of southern Rhode Island’s vampire tradition.

BELIEVE IN VAMPIRES. Rhode Islanders Who Are Sure That They Do Exist. Instances Told of Where the Living Have Been Attacked and Preyed Upon by These Representatives of an Unseen World.

SODOM, R.I. Jan 26—You will not find this place on any map. But if you leave the railway at Wickford Junction and follow the Ten Rod road westward through Exeter until you come to Robbers Corner, and then go south a mile or two over Purgatory road, you will come to Sodom.

The chances are that you won’t know Sodom when you see it, for even in the days of its highest prosperity its population was only about 10 or 20, and now it is a great deal less. There were once four or five houses here, but now there are not nearly so many.

Like Swamptown City and Escoheag, and Noose Neck Hill and Usquepaug, and Skunk Hill and Exeter Hollow, and Gomorrah and many other once flourishing hamlets in southern Rhode Island, Sodom is a back number.

In spite, however, of its present insignificance, Sodom may be called the geographic center of the vampire district of Rhode Island. Now a vampire, as everybody knows who has seen one, is a blood-sucking ghost—the soul of a dead person which quits the body by night to feed upon the blood of the living, especially of its relatives and dearest friends, if it has any.

When the vampire’s grave is opened the corpse is always found to be fresh and rosy from the blood which it has thus absorbed; otherwise it is not a genuine vampire.

There are several excellent ways of putting a stop to the vampire’s ravages. First, you may pour boiling water and vinegar on the grave. This remedy is generally sufficient for the milder forms of vampirism, but if more energetic measures are required it may be necessary to drive a stake through the body or cut the head off, or take out the heart and liver and burn them and eat the ashes. This last precaution, as will be seen, should not be neglected.

more to come...

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