New England does seem to have more than its share of quirky legends, and Mercy Brown is only one of them. Witches in Salem, haunted lighthouses; there’s even a cursed town (supposedly) in Connecticut, about which more anon. Is it our long, chilly winters? Is it a need to come up with more and more tourist attractions as fish stocks decline and manufacturing moves overseas? Who knows? Actually, the guy who knows seems to be J.W. Ocker. His book, the New England Grimpendium, is the last word on the weird, the wacky, and the spooky in the Northeast. And his blog, O.T.I.S (“Odd Things I’ve Seen”) take us even farthest afield: Rome, Chicago, New York–you name it.
I appreciated finding Mercy Brown on O.T.I.S., and was taken back to my own rainy, chilly trip to the Chestnut Hill Cemetery, where you can still see the graves of Mercy and her family (including poor Edwin), plus the crypt where her body was held. It’s a quiet little cemetery, not anywhere near as spooky as I made it in the book (creative license–I needed some atmosphere, plus a crypt or two for my heroine to hide behind during the chase scene). Apart from the occasional tourist wandering by, you’d never know that America’s last vampire is buried there. Unless somebody like J.W. tells you.