This piece of vampire history comes from Manchester, Vermont and follows the story of Rachel Harris.
Rachel was the stepdaughter of Esquire Powell and on March 8, 1789 she married Captain Isaac Burton who was a deacon in the congregational church of the town. Tragically, their marriage ended in February of the following year when Rachel contracted tuberculosis and died. Once a healthy and beautiful young woman, her disease ravaged body was buried in the town’s graveyard.
A year or so later, Captain Burton met and married another lovely young woman called Hulda Powell, who was also a daughter of Esquire Powell but from his first marriage. Hulda was also very attractive and healthy, though reported to not be as pretty as her stepsister.
Not long after their marriage, Hulda became ill in the same manner that Rachel had. However, it was feared her illness was not caused by any ordinary disease. Rumors circulated among friends and family that the cause of the illness was actually Rachel who had returned from the grave and was sucking the blood from Hulda, making her sick.
Friends and family believed the only way to save Hulda was to dig up the three year old rotting corpse of Rachel and burn it.
Timothy Mead was the official who oversaw the ordeal of digging Rachel’s body from its grave. The unearthed corpse’s organs were removed and ceremoniously burned on the coals of a blacksmith’s forge. Upwards of one thousand people came out in the snow to watch the end of the vampire.
There’s speculation not all of the organs were burned and perhaps some were made into a medicine which was given to Hulda to cure ‘the demonic disease’. Unfortunately, the process did Hulda little good and she died on September 6, 1793.
After Hulda’s death there was speculation that perhaps witchcraft was to blame and that Rachel had not been a vampire after all. Captain Burton went on to have two more wives and was buried with wife number four in Dellwood Cemetery in Manchester. Around their graves are a number of unmarked ones – perhaps those of his previous wives who suffered such strange deaths.