Being one of America’s oldest places, Rhode Island has no shortage of haunts and ghosts. With the state’s storied history comes tales of witches, phantoms, and even vampires. Why resort to staged haunted houses or corn mazes when there are real and historic locations supposedly teaming with paranormal activity? Here are the stories of three supposedly haunted spots in the littlest state.
1. Nine Men’s Misery and the Cumberland Monastery – Cumberland
The Trappist Monks of Cumberland’s Monastery left Cumberland for Spencer Massachusetts after a disastrous fire destroyed most of the building… well, at least most of them did, according to legend. Some say that the halls of the former Monastery and now public library are roamed by the spirits of the monks.
Some library employees report hearing conversations without any (living) people present and seeing monks climb the stairs.
The legend is not exclusive to the library, however. Surrounding the Monastery are expansive and solemn grounds, offering some easy wooded hiking trails. An few minutes walk through a well cleared path will bring you to the Nine Men’s Misery monument.
The monument marks the spot where the bodies of nine tortured colonists were found and subsequently buried in 1676. The colonists had been ambushed earlier nearby what is now Central Falls during Captain Pierce’s Fight at the height of King Phillips War.
After years of vandalism, the stone carin was built on top of their buried remains to prevent the remains from further disturbance.
Encountering such a brutal end, it is no wonder that these poor souls are still unable to rest and are said to haunt the woods surrounding the carin to this day.
2. Mercy Brown’s Grave, Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter RI
Long before Twilight, Salem’s Lot, or even Dracula vampires roamed New England. Well, at least according to legend. Especially from the 1790’s to 1890s, vampires were said to torment those suffering from tuberculosis. The disease was known as consumption and was untreatable at the time.
Without a scientific understanding of germs, diseases like tuberculosis were explained by supernatural causes like vampires. Tragically, consumption spread through families and communities like wildfire, ending lives one by one. Understandably, these families turned to desperate means to save the lives of their family members from suffering from consumption and to keep the vampires causing it at bay.
Such was the fate of the Brown family and Mercy Brown, the most famous, well-documented, and last vampire in the United States. George Brown, the patriarch of the family, had lost his wife and two of his daughters to consumption, one of them being Mercy. When his son Edwin fell ill to consumption, he became desperate to find a way to prevent the same fate happening again.
According to superstitions of the era, vampires rise from a dead corpse to haunt others. A well preserved body and organs would be evidence of this if found. To prevent further torment, the corpse’s liver and heart needed to be burnt and drank. Such was the case when Mercy was exhumed.
Mercy”s body had been exhumed by order from her father. She had passed and buried in January, 1892, during a cold New England winter. It would make sense that under these conditions, her body would be well-preserved upon exhumation that March. In fact, her heart was still dripping blood. Her ashes were fed to Edwin, who passed away later.
Today, Mercy Brown is arguably America’s most famous vampire and her grave, located close to a main road at Baptist Church in Exeter, is still honored with small tributes by visitors.
3. Slater Mill Historic Site, Pawtucket RI
Slater Mill is where Samuel Slater brought the Industrial Revolution to America. It was the first water-powered cotton spinning mill of its kind in the United States. This would spur many similar mills and industry both along the Blackstone River and across the rest of the country.
Built in 1973, the mill is not just a relic of the industry and technology of its time, but workplace safety and labor laws.
The first workers at Slater Mill were children under the age of 12. Their smaller size meant it was easier for them to work with the new machinery.
Early mill machinery was still very dangerous. Without modern safety protocols, these powerful, heavy machines operated like a freight train; quickly, rhythmically, and without much hope of stopping them. This made errors like slipping deadly. Tragically, such was the fate of at least one of these children, according to reports.
With so many child souls working the looms of Slater Mill, it should be of no surprise to report that it is considered one of the most active paranormal hotspots in Rhode Island. Now a museum, workers and even daytime guests have reported hearing children’s voices, ghastly apparitions, faces reflected in the water, seeing items move, and even feeling the waist-high embrace of a child who’s shift at the old mill has yet to end.
There are too many haunted locations in Rhode Island, let alone all of New England for me to detail in one post. I hope this encourages you to explore and find your own answers to the unknown – safely and social distanced, of course.
Let me know what you think of this style of content in the comments below! Would you like me to cover more local history or haunted locations in the future?
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