1. We had a vampire.
In the late 1700’s, 19-year old Sarah Tillinghast came down with a fever and died several days later. Soon after, her siblings also began to die, one by one of the same fever, each claiming that Sarah’s ghost had visited them the night before becoming ill. Then one night their Mother claimed to be visited by Sarah, and she too came down with the same sickness, dying several days later. When people in the village began getting sick as well, all blaming it on Sarah’s visits, her father decided to take action. He personally dug up Sarah’s grave and found her body hadn’t decomposed even after 18 months of being underground. He cut out her heart with a knife and it is said that her body gushed with blood. He burned the heart, and the strange sickness stopped. As did the Sarah’s visits.
2. Actually, we had two vampires.
In the late 1800’s, in the town of Exeter, the family of George and Mary Brown had several incidents of consumption, or as it’s known today, tuberculosis. First Mary, the mother, died. Then their eldest child, Mary Olive, died, soon followed by her sister Mercy. With so many deaths close together, it was believed by locals that the family was the victim of a vampire. The Father was persuaded to give permission to exhume his family’s bodies from their graves. When the town doctor exhumed the bodies they were all found to have normal decomposition, except for Mercy. Her body had changed very little. And many of her organs, including the heart, still had blood in them. She was immediately labeled a witch. They cut out her heart, burned it, and added it to a drink for her still sick brother Edwin to drink believing it would cure him. He died two months later.
3. Triskaidekaphobics beware!
If you suffer from Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13, then Rhode Island might be the wrong state for you, as we are the 13th state in the union. When our country had just 13 colonies, Rhode Island was the last to join the United States. And if you happen to visit, and plan to leave on a plane, you’ll be a little disturbed to find that the main highway exit leading to our state airport is Exit 13. As if flying didn’t make you nervous enough.
4. We are home to the ghost hunters.
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson have been investigating paranormal activity and hauntings for decades. Together with their team of investigators called TAPS, they have visited every scary place imaginable. Their reputation even led to them getting their own TV show called Ghost Hunters, which highlights their spooky adventures each week. While the cast of the TV show has changed over the years, the actual real-life TAPS team is still functioning today, helping families in need, and investigating claims of the supernatural all over the New England area.
5. Horror was invented here.
One of the world’s most well respected authors of the macabre was born here. H.P. Lovecraft, an early 1900’s horror fiction author is well known to fans, writers, and movie directors of the horror genre. From his scary short stories in pulp fiction magazines to his horrorific tales “The Call Cthulhu” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, Lovecraft’s works have had a direct effect on generations of writers; Stephen King even credits Lovecraft with being his biggest influence. Many of Lovecraft’s stories take place in New England, and more specifically Rhode Island. Born in Providence, he later moved to New York only to find his work and life suffer by being away from his home state. He later returned and continued his writing until the day of his death. Today he is buried in Providence at Swan Point Cemetery under a modest headstone with a simple epitaph, “I Am Providence.”
6. The conjuring took place here, for real.
The movie The Conjuring is considered to be one of the scariest and most successful horror movies of the past decade. And while it is mentioned briefly in the movie, many don’t realize the story is about the Perrons, a family living in a haunted house located in Harrisville, Rhode Island. A new family lives in the home today, but they do not seem to be too worried about the hauntings described in the movie. However, they have been troubled by sight-seers and trespassers sneaking onto the property hoping to get a glimpse inside.
7. Our founder was eaten by a tree root.
Roger Williams founded Rhode Island during the days of the 13 colonies as a place where people could live in religious freedom. He died in 1683 and was rumored to have been buried in an unmarked grave on a small property on Benefit Street in Providence. When they exhumed his body 200 years later and opened his casket, all that was found was the root from an apple tree that had been growing above. No body was found. But the tree root had grown into the casket it curved where his head would have been and extended through the area where his chest would be and then split into two sections forming what would seem like legs, even curling at the bottom to form feet. Did the apple tree eat Williams’ corpse? Today the root is on display inside the John Brown House at Brown University for folks to determine for themselves.