Monday, November 03, 2008

a little bit of

unusual connecticut history.

When vampire panic struck Jewett City

By Megan Bard

GRISWOLD, Conn.—In May of 1854, the Ray family of Jewett City was frantic.

The large farming family was dying from a devastating disease that caused strong young adults to waste away. Consumption, now known as tuberculosis, was spreading through its ranks with a vengeance.

The family had exhausted traditional means of prevention and were left with one recourse: exhume the bodies of two sons who died from the disease and burn them "on the spot," as a local newspaper recounted some eight years after the event.

The Rays believed they needed to kill the dead to keep them from feeding on the living.

Last Thursday, state Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni and municipal historian Mary Deveau were to take visitors on a walk through history and discuss the plight of the Ray family and what are now known as the Jewett City vampires. The walk was the final stroll sponsored by The Last Green Valley's Walktober celebration.

"People were frightened. It was a final effort to save the living," Bellantoni said of the practice.

Griswold and Bellantoni both hold prominent places in what folklorists describe as the New England vampire belief................

i thought people knew what tuberculosis was by the 1850s. perhaps not in outlaying counties?

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