The Vampires of Rhode Island: Not Unfamiliar With This Plague. Ruth Ellen Rose, 15, Exeter 1874

 In 1874 fifteen year old Ruth Ellen Rose, her body wracked by consumption, was laid to rest. Ruth Ellen was the daughter of William Rose, a local civic leader, and his first wife the late Mary Rose née Taylor. Ruth Ellen had lingered with the disease for a while, giving her family faint hope of a recovery that would never come. Not long after Ruth Ellen’s passing, William’s seven year old daughter appeared to show signs of the same malady that had felled her sister. Concerned, William began to fear that an evil presence was preying on his children. William Rose went to seek guidance from the local minister, Reverend Amos Cabot. The Reverend listened to William talk of his suspicions, but Cabot had his doubt. He realized the strain of losing his daughter warned heavily on William, but could not accept that supernatural influence  was the cause of the sickness holding grip on his family. The Exeter area was already struggling from a local epidemic of consumption, and he couldn’t in good conscious allow a rumor of evil spirits preying on children to take root. The Reverend tried in vain to sway William away from suspecting vampirism, but William was adamant in protecting his family from any predicament and at any cost. William Rose had no idea how to act on his vampire theory, and he searched all around for others with knowledge of this ailment. Nearly giving up after a fruitless search, he would find the answer closer than he thought. William’s second wife, Mary Rose née Griswold, was also widowed. Her former husband was a man named Thomas Tillinghast, a grandson of Stuckley Tillinghast and great nephew of suspected vampire Sarah. ‘Thomas’ family was not unfamiliar with this plague that’s now affecting us’, she told her husband. She had hoped that Rose Ellen’s ailment was just a simple fever, but when Rosalind came ill; William’s talk of vampires unnerved her. She told her husband of the story of Thomas Tillinghast’s ancestors. Upon hearing the tale William was heartsick. What if her words were true he thought as fear gripped him, but he then thought of his daughter Rosalind and made a vow to protect her. He was convinced that defiling the resting place of Ruth Ellen was the only way to protect his family and the surrounding community. That night William had a harrowing dream. While he was alone in a graveyard a pale slender form appeared calling for him. ‘Father’, the figure called to him in a seemingly distance voice ‘I’m so cold. Hold me father, I can’t seem to get warm’. As the figure reached for him; William awakened. That day William went to the family plot in which Ruth Ellen was interred and began to exhume her body. When he got to the coffin he broke away  the cover with his shovel. In the coffin lay his daughter in her white funeral shroud, that was oddly stained with blood. William recoiled at the sight, be he  quickly resolved himself to do what he felt needed to be done. He could not lose another child, and he believed that Ruth Ellen would forgive him for what he was about to do. He raised his knife to his daughter’s chest, thankful for the shroud covering her face, and proceed to cut out Ruth Ellen’s heart. It is said the from beneath the shroud came a harrowing gasp and then silence. Rosalind would in fact recover from her affliction. The mysterious fever had left, and would never again trouble the Rose family.

Ruth Ellen Rose is buried in an unknown, unmarked, grave  at Rhode Island Historical Cemetery  Exeter #50 – Rose Lot. It is a small burial spot on the side of the road that is rather easy to miss. These types of quaint graveyards are common to New England. Though Ruth Ellen’s grave is unmarked, you will still find the graves of William and both Marys’  intact there. The location of the remains of Rosalind Rose are unknown