For those looking for a thrilling adventure, check out the graves of Sarah Tillinghast and Mercy Brown, commonly known as some of Rhode Island’s alleged vampires. First, the story of Sarah Tillinghast whose grave you can find at historical cemetery 14 just off of Forest Hill Drive in Exeter, RI. At the very end of the 1700s, Sarah, 19, suddenly became ill one day and died a few weeks later. Shortly afterward, her brother started growing ill too. Along with his illness, he claimed of having dreams of Sarah sitting on top of his chest. Their parents thought it was just his grief until one by one the rest of the Tillinghast children died shortly after developing the illness and having these odd dreams. Overly superstitious Rhode Islanders were convinced that they were dealing with a vampire. After the children had died, the mother also started to develop the illness, which was apparently the last straw for old Mr. Tillinghast because he unearthed his daughter Sarah, who was said to have a trace of a smile on her lips and blood coursing through her body when they dug up her co**se, and burned her heart. After this barbaric act, the mother’s illness dissipated and Sarah sightings never occurred again.
The next, most famous vampire cases of Rhode Island was that of Mercy Lena Brown. In 1892, Mercy, or Lena as she was known to her family, died quite suddenly of consumption. This illness is known as tuberculosis, but was known to the villagers of that time as consumption. Her brother Edwin also had developed some symptoms of this illness around the time of her death. The neighbors and her own father, with their superstitious beliefs claimed that she was a vampire and was causing the sickness of her brother. Desperate, the villagers and her father dug her up to find her cheeks were still rosy and her body hardly decomposed. So, they did what any cautious person living in this time would do -- they cut out her heart and burned it. Not stopping there, they also fed Edwin the ashes of his sister’s heart, thinking it was going to remedy his illness. It did not and he also succumbed to the illness a short time later.
Today Mercy Brown is renowned all over the state of Rhode Island and her existence lives through the fearsome stories passed down from generations. Lena’s grave is located in Chestnut Hill cemetery behind an old Baptist church in Exeter, RI. Sarah’s story is not as popular as Lena’s but equally, if not more, horrifying. So venture if you will to either of these gravesites and you will most definitely satisfy your hunger for fright.