Mercy Brown’s grave. (Cbarry123/Wikimedia Commons)
The Exhumation Of Mercy Brown
Several villagers, accompanied by the town doctor and a reporter from the local newspaper, convened at Chestnut Hill Cemetery on March 17, 1892 to dig up the corpses of Mary, Mary Olive, and Mercy Brown. When they opened the first two coffins, onlookers observed the expected level of decomposition, but the body of Mercy Brown appeared fresh. There was even still liquid blood in her heart. Of course, no one stopped to consider that Mercy’s corpse had been stored in an aboveground crypt in below-freezing temperatures and wasn’t buried until the ground thawed. Instead, they declared that Mercy Brown was a vampire who had brought disease upon her family.
The people of Exeter were well-versed in vampire lore, so they knew just what to do: They removed and burned Mercy’s heart and liver, and the ashes were used to make a medicinal tonic for Edwin. (Obviously, the gruesome remedy didn’t work, and he died a few months later.) Per tradition, it’s likely that Mercy was then beheaded and her head was placed on her chest when her remains were reburied, this time in Exeter’s Baptist Church Cemetery.