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.
The actual epitaph of Smithfield resident Simon Whipple Aldrich, who died in May 1841, pefectly frames the period's fear of tuberculosis, and the supernatural folklore which produced it; his tombstone proclaiming: “Altho’ consumption’s vampire grasp had seized thy mortal frame, thy ardent and inspiring mind, untouched, remained the same.”
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 Simon Whipple Aldrich 1841
Cast plaster of Paris tombstone. Size 3.25” x 4”.
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