1851 – 1900

HP

1851:

Belgium – During the demolition of the defunct chapel of Tergnee, near Farciennes in Belgium, workmen discover five coffins. Into each of them, at the position of the heart of the corpse, a long nail had been driven through the lid. The nails, 68 inches long, are inscribed with the initials of the Batthyany-Waldstein family, who were said to have inherited the Chateau de Farciennes at around the middle of the eighteenth century. The nails were sent to the Archeological Museum of Charleroi, and were sunsequently lost. Researcher Paul de Saint-hillaire, who published this information in his 1980 book, “Liege et Meuse Mysterieux” is convinced that the Batthyany-Waldsteins were descended from Vlad the Impaler and that the family followed a tradition to “nail down the dead” to prevent their return as vampires.

Cambridge, England, UK – The Ghost Club Society is founded in Cambridge. Members include E. W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury and Arthur Balfour, later Prime Minister. This group later becomes part of the British Occult Society in 1860. The current president is Peter Underwood, who was also a Life-Member of the British Occult Society until its dissolution in 1988. (Article)

December 20: Paris – Alexandre Dumas’s last dramatic work, “Le Vampire”, a play about a vampire opens.

1854:

Turkey – Tsar Nicholas I occupies the Danubian provinces of Turkey. Baron von Haxthausen reports on the case of the “Dakhanavar” a vampiric entity of Armenian folklore. The “Dakhanavar” is reportedly, a vampire that prowls the hills and valleys around Mount Ararat in the Caucasians.

Norwich, Connecticut – “The case of vampyrism in the Ray family of Jewett, Connecticut”, is published in the Norwich Weekly Courier. The case involves Horace/Henry B Ray and two of his sons. The father died in 1847 and was said to be preying on his two sons, who died shortly afterwards. Following this, several of their neighbors dreamed of them also, and awoke feeling exhausted. The three corpses are exhumed, staked and decapitated.

1858:
France –  Z.J. Pierart; a psychical researcher on vampyrism and a professor at the College of Maubeuge, founds a spiritualist journal, “La Revue Spiritualiste”. His rejection of popular reincarnation theory leads him directly to his consideration of vampyrism. He becomes interested in the possibility of psychic attack and in a series of articles he proposes a theory of psychic vampyrism, suggesting that vampyres are the astral bodies of either incarcerated or deceased individuals that are revitalizing themselves on the living. He first proposes the idea that the astral body was forcefully ejected from the body of a person buried alive and that it vampyrises the living to nourish the body in the grave or tomb. Pierart’s work pioneers modern psychical concern with the enomena of vampyrism. It opens the door to the discussion and consideration of the possibility of a paranormal draining of an individual by a spiritual agent. This appears to be the foundation of modern thought around PSI Vampyres.

1860:

London, England – The British Occult Society is founded to investigate paranormal and occult matters. It includes the Ghost Club Society and the London Ghost Club and continues to exist until it is dissolved by its final president, Bishop Sean Manchester of the Highgate Vampire infamy. (Article)

1861:

France – Martin Dumollard “the Monster of Montluel”, France is institutionalized for murdering several young women and drinking their blood. Justine Lafayette, his partner in crime who ate the flesh of the victims, is sent to the guillotine.

1862:

By 1862 “vampire” is used to mean a terrible bore of a person.

London, UK – The London Ghost Club is founded. Members include the Hon A Gordon, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick: a Canon of Westminster and the Registrar of Cambridge University. This group later becomes part of the British Occult Society. (Article)

1870:

Sir Richard F. Burton, publisher of the English translation of the story collection “The Vetala-Pachisi” (published under the title “Vikram and The Vampire”) notes of one particular passage that “Kali”, “Not being able to find victims, this pleasant deity, to satisfy her thirst for the curious juice, cut her own throat that the blood might spout up into her mouth.

Poland – In Neustatt-an-der-Rheda (known today as Wejherowo) in Pomerania (north-west Poland) a prominent citizen named Franz von Poblocki dies of tuberculosis. Two weeks later his son, Anton, also dies and other relatives become ill, complaining of nightmares. The surviving family   members suspect vampyrism and hire a local “vampire expert”, Johann Dzigielski to assist them. He decapitates the son who is then buried with his head between his legs. Over the objections of the local priest, the body of von Poblocki is exhumed and given the same treatment. The local priest makes a complaint to the authorities and Dzigielski is arrested. He is tried and sentenced to four months jail, and is released only after the family of the deceased appeal on his behalf to an understanding judge.

1872:

“Carmilla”, a poem about a Vampyre, is written by Sherridan Le Fanu.

1873:

California, USA – The American newspaper Alta California reports the adventures of the steamship Nevada in Micronesia: “A VAMPIRE. While the steamship Nevada was about 80 miles [130km] off one of the minor islands of Micronesia, on its way up from Australia to San Francisco, at about six o’clock in the morning, a strange animal of a dark figure was observed to light on the highest peak of the foremost mast. [..] the officer of the watch, Mr Burns, the second mate, offered one of the sailors a bonus to secure it. The man clambered up the mast with a heavy cloth in his hand, and after a slight struggle, in which he was severely bitten on the hand, it was secured. Bringing it to the deck, on examination, the beast proved to be a fine specimen of the vampire tribe. This animal closely resembles the pterodactyl of the antediluvian ages. [..] it appears like a huge bat, on hasty examination. It is in the head of the animal, however, that the main distinction resides. [..] a perfect counterpart of the black-and-tan terrier dog. Its teeth are over half an inch in length, and are called in constant requisition to discount­enance all attempts at familiarity. When flying, the wings of this ill-omened beast stretch from tip to tip at least five times the diameter of its body. It is of a deep jet black color, the body being covered with a heavy fur. It is very savage, being on the constant alert to attack any person approaching it. Whether this animal is a full and perfect vampire, whose feats of lolling man to sleep with the waving fan-motions of its wing while sucking into the victim’s very heart-blood, is yet a question, for as yet it has not been examined by any scient­ific men. Its appearance is, however, enough to suggest the truth of such a horrible surmise. Be it as it may, the little Micronesian island has always borne a weird and frightful reputation among the native inhabitants of the adjoining ones. Strange stories of cannibalism, tales of savage idolat­rous practices, poison vall­eys, &c are constantly connected in their minds with its name, and [..] being possessed of blood-imbibing vampires, in addit­ion to all the other horrors, few of them would think the matter extra­ordinary or the least doubtful. The beast, it is believed, will shortly be placed on exhibition at some of our places of public resort.”

1874:

A court finds Vincenzo Verzeni, born in Bettanuco, Italy – Bergamasco region, guilty of two murders involving the biting and sucking of the blood of his victims; and of the attempted murder of four more women.

Reports from Cevem, Ireland, tell of sheep having their throats cut and their blood drained.

Rhode Island, USA – The next case of the Rhode Island Vampires appears in a news report when William G. Rose of Placedale, Rhode Island exumes the body of his daughter, Ruth Ellen, to burn her heart because he was convinced she had become a vampire preying on her living relatives.

1875:

New York City, New York, USA – Henry Olcott Steel and Helena Blavatsky found the Theosophical Society in New York City. Steel speculates that occasionally when a person is buried they may not be dead, but in a catatonic or trance-like state, barely alive. Olcott speculates that a person could survive for long periods in their grave by sending out their astral double to drain the blood, or life-force from the living to remain nourished.

1878:

Milan, Italy – Ten years before Jack the Ripper becomes a household name, a young man named Eusebius Pieydagnelle becomes so obsessed with the smell of blood in the butcher’s shop where he works, that he goes prowling at night, slaughtering six women. He admits that the sight and smell of fresh human blood brings him to orgasm.

1879:

Paris – An interesting treatise on the subject of vampires, is the nineteenth-century translation of “Demonality or Incubi and Succubi”, supposedly by one Fr. L. M. Sinistari of Ameno, first translated and published by the bibliophile Isidore Liseux in Paris in 1879. As the story goes, the vampiric plague in Europe was beginning, when a Franciscan from Pavia, Ludovico Maria Sinistrari (1622-1701), includes vampirism in a study of demonic phenomena, “De Daemonialitate, et Incubis, et Succubis”, and offers a theological interpretation of them. Far from the contemporary rationalism and the Enlightenment that emerged in the following century, he thought of vampires as creatures that had not originated from Adam (i.e., humanity). While they had a rational soul equal to humans, their corporeal dimension was of a completely different, perfect nature. He thus enforces the idea that vampires are creatures that parallel human beings rather than opposite, chthonious, underground beings. (The oddness of Sinistrari’s views may be because his study was a hoax. It was reportedly written in the nineteenth-century by Isidore Lisieux, which would account for the fact that the study was not mentioned by Italian authors through the 1700s.) It is later translated into English by Montague Summers (Fortune Press, London, 1927; reprinted B. Blom, New York, 1972).

1882:

Cork, Island – A vampire case that draws great attention is that of “the Blood Drawing Ghost” of County Cork, Ireland. Recounted by Jeremiah Curtin.

1888:

Emily Gerad’s “Land Beyond the Forest” is published. It will become a major source of information about Transylvania for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

August 31: London, England – Jack the Ripper begins his 4 month riegn of terror in London as the archetypal serial killer, never identified, never captured. Jack the Ripper is rumored to have been inspiration for Bram Stoker’s later “Dracula” novel.

1889:

Rhode Island, USA – One more case of suspected vampires in Rhode Island occurs when 19 year old Nellie Vaughn dies. To this day her grave bears the inscription “I am waiting and watching you” and local legends claim that nothing will grow on her grave.

1892:

Rhode Island, USA – In the United States, the alleged “Rhode Island vampyre”, Mercy Brown, dies at age 19. Her death follows those of her mother and older sister. At the time, her brother, Edwin, is seriously ill and the family is desperate to save him. Family members attribute the deaths to a curse on the family and decide to dig up the bodies of the women, including Mercy, who had been buried for about a month. When Mercy’s body is exhumed, observers note it appeared to have moved inside the coffin and blood was present in her heart and veins. Fearing she is a vampire, townspeople remove her heart and burn it on a rock before reburying her. The family dissolve the ashes in medicine and give it to Edwin, who dies two months later.

November 4: “A Human Vampire” appeared on the front page between the obituary of Wheaton A Welsh, “the well known Local Public School Principal” and a shoot-out in Wyoming. James Brown was a sailor on a whaling ship, sentenced to death in 1866 for the murder of a shipmate. The article covers two murders committed by Brown in the insane assylum he was transferred to after the death sentence had been commuted by President Johnson in 1867. The fanciful title suggests that someone at the Eagle might have succumbed to temptation and embellished an otherwise uninteresting news item. It would be interesting to know why President Johnson commuted Brown’s death sentence but, whatever the reason, the fact that Johnson remains the only President of the United States to have saved a “vampire” from hanging has done nothing to add lustre to his legacy. Other questions remain. Why was Brown sent to an insane asylum? Another explanation is that Brown’s story became confused, commingled or otherwise mixed up with another Brown in the news that year – Mercy. Mercy Brown’s story appeared on the front page of the Providence Journal on 19 March, 1892, eight months before the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article about James Brown.

1894:

USA – H.G. Well’s short story, “The Flowering of the Strange Orchid,” is a precursor to science fiction Vampyre stories.

1897:

England – The seminal work in vampire fiction “Dracula” by Bram Stoker is published in England.

“The Vampire” by Ruyard Kipling becomes the inspiration for the creation of the vampire as a stereotypical character on stage and screen.

Joseph Vacher of Bourg is executed for killing approximately 12 people and drinking their blood from where he bit them on their necks.

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