Although many people entertain the idea that ghosts may be real, few even humor the suggestion that vampires might exist. Likewise, the very notion of vampire ghosts probably drives most people to sniggers or outright bursts of condescending laughter. As crazy as it may sound, there are certain places in this wonderful world of ours that are supposedly haunted by real-life vampires. In this list, the places are cemeteries, and each one may have their own blood drinker or blood drinkers.
10 Lafayette Municipal Cemetery
For some unknown reason, certain cemetery headstones attract urban legends. In Rhode Island, the headstone of Nellie Vaughn, which reads “I am Waiting and Watching For You,” garnered enough attention from thrill-seekers that they made the dead woman into the undead.
Elsewhere, ordinary headstones or ordinary tombstones become the objects of irrational fear. This seems to be the case with poor Theodore “Fodor” Glava, an immigrant laborer who died of influenza at the young age of 43. A pauper, Glava was given a simple headstone reading “Mr. Glava.” Even worse, Glava was likely buried in the same coffin right beside John Trandifir (sometimes spelled Trandofir), a fellow immigrant doomed to a cramped eternity because of his meager income.
Over the years, a legend began to percolate that claimed that Glava was a vampire. Supposedly a native of Transylvania (how convenient!), Glava was believed to have been a tall, thin man with dark hair and abnormally long fingernails. One could search for years and still not find better indicators of vampirism than these.
Once realizing that a vampire was in their midst, the good people of North Central Colorado decided to place a spike into Glava’s heart. This action not only killed the vampire but also supposedly gave rise to a tree that still stands in the middle of Glava’s grave.
Nowadays, one is more likely to bump into legend-tripping kids or paranormal investigators than the vampire Glava. Still, one never knows.
9 Resurrection Cemetery
Insofar as spiritually active cemeteries go, Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, is an all-star. The cemetery is most famous for Resurrection Mary, the ghost girl hitchhiker dressed up for a party who always asks to be dropped off at home (which is Resurrection Cemetery).
Other ghosts, from floating orbs to full-bodied apparitions that leave handprints behind when they try escape the massive cemetery, are so prevalent that some have taken to calling the cemetery and the surrounding town, which is just a few miles south of Chicago, the Resurrection Triangle as a nod to the high weirdness of the Bermuda Triangle.
Little known or studied is the often repeated story that one of Resurrection Cemetery’s many residents is a vampire that can be heard trying to claw its way out of its grave at night. Most paranormal investigators label these scratching and clawing noises the work of a ghost or multiple ghosts, but a curious few seem happy to claim that an unnamed vampire tries to come aboveground every night right after sunset.
8 Southern Necropolis
Located in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, the Southern Necropolis is a mammoth burial site containing over 250,000 tombs. Many famous and well-known figures are buried at the Southern Necropolis, including politician John Robertson, architect Alexander Thomson, and Sir Thomas Lipton, the founder of Lipton Tea. In 1954, the cemetery itself became famous when a police officer named Alex Deeprose received a rather strange call.
On the night of September 23, Deeprose arrived at the Southern Necropolis to see hundreds of children patrolling the cemetery with knives and wooden stakes. They claimed that they were looking for a 2-meter-tall (7 ft) vampire with metal teeth. Apparently, the vampire had already eaten two local boys. Soon enough, however, the headmaster of the boys’ school convinced them that vampires don’t exist. Besides, Deeprose knew that no murder, let alone a double murder, had occurred in Gorbals for quite some time.
Despite this, the boys continued to gossip about the vampire on the playground, which in turn drove many of them to take up their patrol again the next night. They did it a third time, thus concluding a minor panic among Glaswegian children.
Oddly enough, the three-day vampire hunt helped to form an alliance between Christians, the National Union of Teachers, and Scottish communists, all of whom blamed American horror films and comic books for the outbreak. Even odder, over a decade later, London’s Highgate Cemetery experienced a similar vampire hunt, except it was adults doing all the patrolling this time instead of children.
7 The Erie Cemetery
When your name is “Erie,” it’s hard not to be a little spooky. This once-prominent economic hub in northwestern Pennsylvania is no stranger to ghosts. However, according to many, Erie Cemetery hosts its own vampire. Of course, the Erie vampire is buried in what is called the Vampire’s Crypt—an elaborate mausoleum that looks like a series of Vs built on top of each other. The crypt looks terrifying, and it has been the catalyst for several strange ghost stories.
Many claim that the crypt gives off an “unnatural” or otherwise oppressive vibe that is unlike the usual uneasiness that most people feel in cemeteries. Others claim that the crypt had been previously burned by superstitious locals, quite possibly the same people who chiseled the name off the mausoleum. (Cemetery records claim that the tomb’s owners are the Brown family).
Also, two legends concerning the crypt make it clear that its occupant is not resting in peace. In one story, a young man scaled the crypt’s walls after agreeing to a dare. Once high up, the young man saw something terrifying and fell. When he woke up in the hospital, he saw the same specter again and fled in terror before accidentally falling to his death. In the other story, a widow visiting her husband’s grave was attacked by a pack of feral dogs that seemed be the guardians of the Vampire’s Crypt.
Finally, it has also been claimed that the Vampire’s Crypt and the Witches’ Circle, which is a ring of partially burned headstones in the same cemetery, have been the scene of many pagan ceremonies over the years. Who knows, maybe one of these ceremonies brought the vampire to life. That’s how it worked in Dracula A.D. 1972 after all.
6 St. Mary’s Churchyard
Tarrant Gunville, Dorset
During the heyday of vampire superstition, it was commonly believed that people who committed suicide were likely to become vampires after death. So when workers in the Dorset village of Tarrant Gunville exhumed the corpse of “Old Doggett,” a suicide victim buried in the churchyard of St. Mary’s, they were understandably petrified. Over 100 years earlier in 1762, Old Doggett had killed himself after his employer, Eastbury House owner George Bubb Dodington, cottoned on to his financial scheme.
In reality, Old Doggett was William Doggett, Dodington’s steward. Doggett tried to get rich by selling off parts of the Eastbury House while his master was away in Italy. Since his death, stories proclaim that the ghost of Doggett can be seen waiting outside the gates of Eastbury House for a coach driven by a headless driver.
Other stories say that Doggett, with a face full of blood, haunts the house itself. Similarly, Doggett’s ghost may haunt St. Mary’s churchyard, where his body was put to rest with yellow silk ribbon tied around his legs to prevent him from rising up again.
5 Dellwood Cemetery
In 1789, Captain Isaac Burton, a military hero and a deacon in a local Congregational church, married Rachel Harris. The couple was a happy pair until things started going very south for Rachel. Once a healthy, vivacious woman, her health deteriorated rapidly not long after marrying Captain Burton. Within a year, Rachel died of tuberculosis.
With no time to mourn, Captain Burton married Hulda Powell four years later. Again, Powell, a formerly healthy woman, fell ill with consumption and died within a few years of her wedding. Convinced that a vampire was plaguing him, Captain Burton and Judge John S. Pettibone exhumed Rachel’s body to remove her heart, liver, and lungs.
Once in hand, the organs were burned to ashes and mixed with water. Captain Burton drank this concoction to remove the vampire’s curse from his body while hundreds of townspeople from surrounding areas traveled to Manchester to see the vampire totally destroyed.
Today, the bodies of Captain Burton and his fourth wife, Dency Raymond, can be located in Manchester’s Dellwood Cemetery. As for Rachel, her final resting place was once the village green, but when the burial ground was moved to make room for a courthouse, her grave was lost. Some continue to look for her ghost in Dellwood, but none have found any convincing evidence.
4 Santa Paula Cemetery
Santa Paula Cemetery (known in Spanish as El Panteon de Belen) is not only very old and very beautiful, but it is also very haunted. At least, that’s the word on the street, for numerous visitors have reported seeing ghosts or other supernatural phenomena. As it turns out, Santa Paula Cemetery is associated with plenty of stories, from rumors of buried treasure to a “dog man.” No legend is more disturbing than the vampire tree, however.
In the distant past, a vampire stalked the streets of Guadalajara. First, it fed on animals, and then it started feeding on infants. After weeks of living in abject terror, certain Guadalajara citizens formed a vigilante group that tracked down the vampire and drove a stake through its heart. Hoping to keep the creature from rising again, the vigilantes buried the vampire’s body underneath large concrete slabs.
Somehow, these slabs were cracked by a mysterious tree that grew out of the vampire’s staked heart. Nowadays, the large central tree of Santa Paula is associated with this vampire legend. It is said that if anyone cuts a limb from this tree, they will see blood appear. Also, if the tree ever grows so large that it pulls the vampire’s coffin aboveground, then the vampire will return and begin hunting down the living.
“Culmen” is the Latin name for a medieval burial ground in the Polish village of Kaldus where the dead were first buried in the 10th century. Before being burned to the ground by Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, Kaldus was an important city for the Polish crown. As such, Culmen was quite popular, with well over 1,000 graves.
Archaeologists under the supervision of Wojciech Chudziak, a professor from Nicolaus Copernicus University, uncovered several skeletons from the medieval cemetery in 2007 and discovered that 14 bodies, most of which showed signs of disease, had been decapitated and buried on their sides. Why? The townspeople of Kaldus believed that they were vampires.
The image reproduced most often from the excavation shows a man and a woman who died in the 11th century. At the time, Christianity still hadn’t fully conquered Poland, thus allowing anti-vampire practices to flourish.
According to the archaeologists, both the man and the woman had been decapitated after death while several of their bones had also been crushed with large stones. All of this was done to guarantee that the diseased dead would not return to plague the living as vampires. The discovery of the Kaldus cemetery is part of a larger series of discoveries throughout Poland that show that the medieval Poles generally feared vampires and went to great lengths to protect themselves from the undead.
2 Dummerston Center Cemetery
As recorded by Henry David Thoreau in 1859, rural New Englanders commonly blamed tuberculosis on vampires. Their remedy for such an affliction was to exhume the bodies of suspected vampires, remove their hearts and major organs, burn those organs, and mix them with water to create a fortifying drink that would get rid of consumption. In Vermont, the practice was widespread and inspired several half-true, half-false stories about vampire panics in the Green Mountain State.
According to David Lufkin Mansfield’s The History of the Town of Dummerston, a certain Lieutenant Spaulding suffered blow after blow before the US Civil War. Specifically, Spaulding’s children, all of whom were nominally healthy and younger than 40, died suddenly of consumption. Few remained, so when one his daughters grew desperately ill, Spaulding decided to take matters into his own hands.
Knowing full well that vines grow from vampire graves, Spaulding went to where his children were buried in Dummerston, removed the vine from the most recent grave, and dug up the corpse. The heart, lungs, and stomach were burned and fed to the sick young girl, who recovered soon after.
Although Lieutenant Spaulding and his wife were buried in unmarked graves, two of the Spaulding children are housed in Dummerston Center Cemetery. If the legends are true, then the Spaulding family vampire was burned up in the 19th century. However, people still visit Dummerston Center Cemetery today in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a vampire ghost.
1 Hollywood Cemetery
In life, William Wortham Pool was a bookkeeper originally from Mississippi. He moved to Richmond, Virginia, in the 1870s to work at a tobacco shop, but after that, he plied his chosen trade for decades. He was, in a word, completely average. In 1913, at age 80, Pool died and was interred in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery. His modest mausoleum, which currently forms the center of one of America’s most unique vampire legends, says very little about the man.
Shortly after 1925, stories about the Richmond Vampire began to circulate when a railway tunnel collapsed just one month before Halloween. Several workers were killed in the falling rubble of Church Hill Tunnel. Apparently, more superstitious locals (including some of the men working in the tunnel) believed that the collapse awakened a foul creature wet with the blood of the recent dead. The hideous monstrosity fled the tunnel and disappeared inside Pool’s crypt.
Another version of the tragic tale claims that Benjamin Mosby, a railway worker brutally mutilated by the accident at Church Hill, ran blindly into Hollywood Cemetery before dying. While not true, this story, along with the rumor that Pool was a vampire banished from England due to his activities, helps Hollywood Cemetery to maintain a reputation as one of America’s more unusual cemeteries.
Benjamin Welton is a freelance writer based in Boston. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, Listverse, Metal Injection, and other publications. He currently blogs at literarytrebuchet.blogspot.com.