"One thing about living in New England I never could stomach, all the damn vampires."
September 25, 2012 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Ever heard of the Jewett City Vampires? Sure, you know about Salem and its witches, but New Englanders also went through several vampire panics that come far closer to the present than any Salem shenanigans. But who were the real people behind the modern legends? One common thread in the American myths: Tuberculosis (PDF).
posted by Ghostride The Whip (9 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Geez, the past is a foreign place.
posted by mr. digits at 3:59 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Nineteenth-century cures included drinking brown sugar dissolved in water and frequent horseback riding. “If they were being honest,” Bell says, “the medical establishment would have said, ‘There’s nothing we can do, and it’s in the hands of God.’”"

Not quite, there were actually some reasonably effective management strategies out there at the time. For example John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, recommended digging a specifically sized hole in fresh earth and letting the consumptive patient breath into it for extended periods of time. This would mimic the effect of a humidifier, which can provide significant relief. On the other hand he also recommended that late stage patients suck the breast of a healthy woman, so their miles varied quite a bit.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:02 PM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I thought that vampire legends were founded on the behavior of people infected with rabies.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:16 PM on September 25, 2012


I grew up right in that general area and went to school in Griswold, but only saw wannabe vampires prowling the hallways. It was the 80s, so it was hardly out of the ordinary.
posted by radiosilents at 4:26 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought that vampire legends were founded on the behavior of people infected with rabies.

According to this informative book by Paul Barber, villagers looking for answers would exhume the first victim in a mysterious string of deaths and find the body rosey, plump, and with apparently longer hair and nails. Not understanding decomposition they assumed the dead were still alive and feeding.
posted by Roman Graves at 5:15 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mercy Brown, represent!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:18 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The part about the whole family falling ill (presumably with tuberculosis) in the Jewett City Vampires case is really interesting to me. Before Pasteur and the germ theory of disease, TB was thought to be hereditary, but that was thrown away once the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis was identified. However, in recent years, TB and other mycobacterial infections are starting to be linked to really specific heritable defects in the immune system.
posted by fermezporte at 7:11 PM on September 25, 2012


Sookie Stackhouse meets her one true love at last
posted by homunculus at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a new edition of that Barber book here and it's in-stock.

I'm sorely tempted.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:23 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Just in time for election season, royalty-free mus...  |  "It's like 'Carrie' with a hap... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments