The beginning of the 18th century in Eastern Europe had seen a spate of claimed Vampire killings, known as the 18th Century Vampire controversy, accusations of vampirism exploded and corpses were staked through the heart, or the heads were removed. A practice by the 18th century which was already ancient.
This practice and its folklore by the centuries end, had made its way from the old world into the new, and into rural New England.
In May 1874, in Exeter Rhode Island, 15 year Ruth Ellen Rose died, her father’s second wife Mary had a family history shared by this common grief, she was the great-granddaughter of Stukeley Tillinghast, the father of Sarah Tilinghast, who had been exhumed and her heart burned in 1800. Ruth was also exhumed, her grieving father driving a knife into the heart of her decaying body to try and stop the spread of the supernatural sickness.
The tombstones are modelled on New England examples, and feature original illustrations, with the iconography based upon the accounts of the Rhode Island Vampire exhumations.
Vampires in Rhode Island: Tombstone of Ruth Ellen Rose 1874
Cast plaster of Paris tombstone. Size 3.25” x 4”.
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