Beast of Bladenboro: The Vampire Cat of North Carolina

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Bladenboro, a quiet rural community, was established in 1857. To this day, it remains tucked away in the swamps and pine forests of the southeastern edge of the North Carolina Piedmont (Scary Truth). The population of the area remains limited to this day. In 1954 the peaceful community of Bladenboro experienced two weeks of terror that would put it on the map forever.

Newspapers all over the southeastern United States covered the mysterious incidents. Gallehugh mentioned that even the United Press International and Associated Press carried the story. Those articles were unable to be located for confirmation. The creature that stalked the countryside for those two weeks was never able to be accurately identified.

The authorities never successfully identified the creature. As such, the Beast of Bladenboro would continue to be

As a result, the monster panic that gripped the community would be remembered as a “standing joke” for North Carolinians (Gallehugh 53).

The Elusive Vampire Cat of North Carolina

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The story of the vampire cat of North Carolina is one that stretches back seventy years. Unlike many urban legends which are based primarily on stories passed around verbally from person to person, this legend has a basis in fact. Whether the antagonist of the story was truly a vampire cat is up to you to decide. We here at Puzzle Box Horror believe that anything is possible, especially given the evidence.

December 29, 1953

A woman local to Clarkton in Bladen County heard the neighbor’s dogs barking and whimpering in the evening. Her curiosity spurred her to investigate since she didn’t often hear the dogs at all. She would later recall that what she saw was a sleek, black catlike animal. She believed it to be about five feet long with a round face just before it disappeared into the darkness. The creature had only eaten a piece of the body, according to Police Chief Roy Flores (Gallehugh 53).

Reports from D.G. Pait stated that he saw a dog being attacked by a large creature and subsequently dragged into the woods, from his service station.

New reports of canine death flooded Chief Flores’ office from all across the county. These reports varied between sightings of bears or panthers, but the description was consistent—three feet long, twenty inches high, long tail, and a face like a cat.

December 31, 1953

Woody Storm, a local farmer, called Chief Flores out to his property. Storm had found two of his dogs dead, slaughtered by something large and powerful. Flores found a disturbing similarity between Storm’s dogs and the victim from the day before. Something had completely drained their blood.

January 1, 1954

Gray Callihan, a local farmer, found his dog slaughtered. Just like the previous victims, the carcass had no blood and a crushed skull (Gallehugh 54). Two more dogs turned up dead and drained of their blood. Flores called in a team of professional hunters from Wilmington, NC to track down the animal. (NCG)

January 2, 1954

“Several imaginative townspeople” brought around the theory that they were dealing with a vampire-like creature, due to the state in which they found the bodies of the slaughtered animals. Despite his skepticism, Police Chief Flores organized a small search party. Their efforts to locate the animal before dark were hindered by the dense swampy land they had to cover. The town became noticeably more anxious as the creature continued to go undiscovered. (Gallehugh 54)

January 3, 1954

Flores examined the carcass of another dog that had been killed at a service station on the outskirts of Bladenboro. He concluded that “all except a drop or two of blood had been sucked.” A witness found another dead dog within city limits later that day. This would cause fear and rumors to begin to run wild. Mayor G. W. Fussell took more direct control over the investigation and ordered Flores to form a larger search party. Nearly thirty armed men and seven dogs scoured the Big Bay and Red Hill Swamp areas to find the creature. (Gallehugh 54)

The search party returned by nightfall, unsuccessful in their venture to find any sign of the creature. The failure of yet another search only served to bolster the apprehension the residents of Bladenboro felt in their own homes. This newfound fear for the residents of the small town caused them to lock their doors, concerned that the next victim might not be “just a good dog,” fortunately there were no new sightings that night. (Gallehugh 54)

An increasing number of newspapers had taken up the story of the mysterious “Vampire Beast of Bladenboro,” and the news spread like wildfire. Professional hunters throughout the state eagerly flocked to eastern North Carolina for a chance to kill the notorious creature. Speculation on what the beast really began to grow, some stating that it was a black panther, or a large bobcat, while still, others claimed that it was just a rabid dog or a wolf. None of these theories accounted for the immense force the beast possessed, nor did they consider the vampiric tendency to lust for blood. (Gallehugh 54)

January 4, 1954

The next morning, a citizen reported “unusual tracks” at the edge of the swamp behind the mill section. That same morning, three illustrious hunters arrived from Wilmington, fifty miles away, to aid in the hunt. The hunters brought their professionally trained dogs and began their search where they found fresh tracks. Their hunt for the creature was fruitless, but they gained some helpful insight into its behavior. They deduced from the evidence of the creature’s tracks that it traveled in a circular pattern and stayed within an approximately three-mile radius. The three men believed that this might indicate the creature had a mate and therefore presumed that there was more than one creature making the killings. (Gallehugh 55)

As the day passed more hunters joined the fray to locate the creature—before the end of the night, there were between forty and fifty men seeking out the elusive beast. When darkness fell, they gave up the hunt for the day. They knew that if it were indeed a large cat that it would undoubtedly be capable of eluding them under the cloak of darkness. (Gallehugh 55)

Mad Wolf Feared: Vampire Killer Roams At Large In Bladenboro Bladenboro, Jan 4 — This nervous town chewed its nails today, dreading night that might bring a return visit of a mystery killer-beast with a vampire lust. The killer, so far, has vented its depredations only on dogs. Three mutilated corpses have been found. Four other dogs are reported missing. Police Chief Roy Fores and a posse of eight or 10 officers and citizens are armed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns for a hunt tonight. This afternoon a band of youths beat bushes at the edge of town in an attempt to rout the bloodthirsty marauder. Chief Fores disclosed the vampire motive of the animal today. He said a dog killed last night was opened up today and not more that two or three drops of blood was found in the carcass. The chief believes the vampire beast is a mad wolf lurking in the wild reaches of Big Bay and Red Hill swamps skirting Bladenboro.
January 5, 1954

Despite no new incidents overnight—no unusual sounds, tracks, or drained animal carcasses to speak of—the hunting party continued to grow (Gallehugh 55). Most notably, a man by the name of Sam Spivey came from Tabor City and brought along with him his bear dogs.

Escalation of the problem…

The attitude of the hunting party changes dramatically when “a dog within a hundred feet of the hunting party was attacked by the vampire beast.” It was reported to have been dragged screaming into the swamp nearby before anyone could arrive to help it, or a shot could be fired at the creature.

Another Body Found…

Eventually, they found the dog with its head crushed and drained of all of its blood. They got a break in their search, however, when they found tracks that revealed claws that were at least an inch long. This indicated to the hunters that the beast was approximately a hundred pounds. When the hunt ended that night, the town was abuzz with inquisitive tourists, newspaper reporters, and an inpouring of hunters hoping to be the ones to catch the dreaded community menace. (Gallehugh 55)

‘Vampire’ Charges Woman A large marauding cat that has killed and sucked the blood of at least seven dogs charged a woman here tonight, but turned and fled back into a swamp when she screamed and her husband rushed onto the scene. Police Chief Roye Forbes said the animal charged into the yard of [Kinlaw] when she went out onto her front porch to investigate whimpering dogs in the street. After the incident occured, the armed posse that went out tonight to track down and kill the “vampire” swelled to some 500 people and scores of dogs. Mrs. Kinlaw, who lives in the mill village near Bladenboro Mills on Highway 211 one mile west of here, said she heard the dogs whimpering early tonight and went to investigate. Near the dogs, she said, was what looked like “a big mountain lion.” It raced from three doors down the dirt street in front of her house to a few feet from her porch, then turned back when she screamed and her husband rushed out of the house, she said. A neighbor also came to her aid. Chief Forbes said tracks in the dirt road in front of the Kinlaw home were “bigger than a silver dollar.” A search party from Wilmington which tracked the animal last night as it moved in a three-mile circle along the edges of swampy areas found tracks which revealed claws…
Cutting from News and Observer in Raleigh, NC from January 5, 1954
The Clemmons Incident…

Mill worker Lloyd Clemmons and his wife heard their two dogs growling that night and to them, it was highly unusual. Mr. Clemmons decided to investigate the commotion. Clemmons was on record saying, “I glanced out of the window and saw this thing … [the beast] had me plumb spellbound.”

Before Clemmons was able to load his shotgun the beast had already disappeared into the darkness, so he called the police to report his sighting and provide his description of the creature. In his words, it was “about three feet long and 20 inches high. It had a long tail, about 14 inches long. The color of it was dark … it had a face exactly like a cat … Only I ain’t never seen a cat that big.” (“Vampire on Loose” 1)

The Beast attacks a woman…
Bladenboro — Officers and armed citizens hunted today for a vampire beast that has killed at least three dogs and left their corpses bloodless. Police Chief Roy Fores said he believed the killer was a mad wolf lurking in the wilds of Big Ray and Red Hill swamps near here.
Cutting from The Daily Record in Dunn, NC from January 5, 1954

The story of the Beast of Bladenboro made front page news across several different news outlets across the state. One such report from the Raleigh News and Observer detailed an incredible close-call with the creature on the same day as the Clemmons sighting. Not too far from the Clemmons’ home, Mrs. C. E. Kinlaw heard two of her puppies whimpering outside of her house. The beast charged from the darkness the moment Kinlaw stepped out onto her porch to investigate.

Her screams prompted her husband to rush immediately to her aid, which gave the beast an opportunity to escape back into the night. When questioned by authorities as to what she saw near her dogs, she reported that there, “was what looked like a big mountain lion.” It had apparently raced from three houses down the dirt street on which she lived to just a few feet from her porch. When Chief Flores had a chance to investigate around the Kinlaw’s home he reportedly found tracks that were “bigger than a silver dollar.” (Gallehugh 56)

The Beast attacks a woman…

After this incident, an armed posse of around five to six hundred people and scores of dogs thoroughly searched the mill section that surrounded the Kinlaw home. They remained on the premises until daybreak and yet found no sign of the evasive beast. When hunters compared two sets of tracks found, they surmised two different animals created them. On that same night, D.G. Pait and Chief Flores were standing together in the mill section when they heard a dog yelping in pain. Flores believed the dog was being dragged into the thicket that enclosed the houses, but when Flores and Pait arrived to save the dog, there was no sign of either creature. That dog’s body was never found. (Gallehugh 56)

January 6, 1954

The continued search for the beast was hindered by the excessive amounts of armed hunters who were vying for the chance to claim the life of the beast for themselves. “By midafternoon, all hopes of killing the beast were given up,” but that didn’t keep the beast from attacking another pet. It was later found out that a pet rabbit had been killed, its head bitten off, and the blood sucked from its body. Even more disturbing, is the fact that the rabbit’s body was still warm and found in an area that had been covered by the search parties earlier in the day. (Gallehugh 56)

Bladenboro, N.C. — Citizens terrorized by a mysterious"vampire" beast pinned new hope for its annihilation today in a volunteer hunt with a pack of experienced"cat dogs." A two-pronged strategy of lure and chase last night resulted in another failure to shoot the creature that has killed at least eight dogs and drunk their blood and charged a woman on her front porch.

A new hope emerged to put an end to the monster panic. A group of volunteer hunters with their purported “cat dogs” (think bird dogs, but for hunting big cats). Their first tactic, the night previous had been a lure-and-chase strategy which unfortunately ended in failure (“News Shorts”). Traps were set and baited with dogs as a way to bring the beast out of hiding and lure it to its death. Police Chief Flores, Bladen County Sheriff John B. Allen, and the State Highway Patrol were tasked with crowd control. Despite the traps, people refused to move out of the area where they were set. The threat of the Beast of Bladenboro was superseded by the hundreds of nervous armed people milling around the outskirts of town. Chief Flores and Mayor Fussell decided to stop the hunt to avoid the possibility of someone getting accidentally shot. (Gallehugh 57)

BULLETINS — Bladenboro, N.C. — Authorities today planned to continue their hunt for the mysterious"vampire beast" which has killed dogs near here and drained their bodies of blood. Four packs of trained hunting dogs and hundreds of eager hunters have joined in the search for the beast. Police Chief Roy Rores said yesterday that the hunt for the animal had actually been hampered by the number of hunters taking part.
January 11, 1954

Two cars full of witnesses watched, shocked, as the “Beast of Bladenboro” crossed a road at its leisure near Bladenboro. Each of the six witnesses gave Chief Flores an expectedly similar description to those of the past two weeks. One of the witnesses, by the name of Jeff Evers, described the beast as having a large head with “runty-looking” ears. The road it crossed was near the bridge at Big Swamp, an area approximately four miles away from Bladenboro and near to the area where the creature and its tracks had been spotted frequently. (“Runty-Looking Ears”)

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January 13, 1954

Five days after the hunt had been called off, Luther Davis a local farmer brought in a 25-pound bobcat that he had trapped and killed around 8:30 that morning. The authorities believed that the bobcat fit all of the descriptions and tracks of the Beast of Bladenboro, but in retrospect, it seems as if they were trying to make it fit the descriptions so as to ease the townsfolk of their fears.

The only thing they could not manage to explain was how a wildcat so small could manage to take down dogs twice its size. Regardless, Mayor Fussel decided to report to the newspapers that the beast had been killed, as a means to quiet any remaining excitement over the creature.

Despite the claims that the bobcat was the infamous beast, townsfolk continued to report sightings of a large catlike creature in the Big Swamp section of Bladen County. The bobcat was nonetheless hung from a flagpole in the center of town by Flores and Fussell and displayed with a sign that read “This is the Beast of Bladenboro”. (Gallehugh 58)

Bladenboro, N.C. — Residents hoped today that a 25-pound bobcat killed near here was the"vampire" beast that kille deight dogs and drank their blood, terrorized townspeople, and attracted eager hunters in such numbers that officials attempts to slay him had to be cancelled. Luther Davis trapped the male bobcat near his home about three miles from here. He said the animal was so"scrappy" in the trap yesterday that he had to shoot it. The animal measured about 30 inches llong and matched closely descriptions give of the"vampire", except that it had a bob tail.
Cutting from The Daily Record in Dunn, NC from January 14, 1954
January 21, 1954

As an added curiosity to the claims that the beast had been killed, Berry Lewis, a farmer local to the area reported that he had found a half-grown hog killed near Big Swamp to Chief Flores. When examined, Flores saw that the hog’s bones had been crushed and part of its flesh eaten. (Gallehugh 58)

S. Ray Johnson Takes New Post S. Ray Johnson of Lillington has assumed new duties as Wildlife Protector for Bladen County and is stationed in Bladenboro. Johnson was graduated on Decemeber 19 from the Wildlife Protector's School sponsored this fall by the Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina. Mrs. Johnson and their young son, Stanley Ray Johnson, II born December 25 have joined him in Bladenboro. She is the former Miss Lola Colman of Lillington. Johnson, who was here on a week end visit a week ago, had to take his share of razzing from friends about drawing for his first assignment, Bladen County, alleged "haunt of the beast of Bladen" which has captured a lot of headlines this month. So far stories of a strange vampire beast loose in the swamps has not been verified.
Cutting from The Daily Record in Dunn, NC from February 8, 1954
February 8, 1954

By February the entire incident would become akin to satire. Bladen County assigned S. Ray Johnson as its newest Wildlife Protector. People began to doubt the copious amounts of evidence collected and the beast would remain an unverified story. (“S. Ray Johnson”)

May 5, 1954

The Tabor City Tribune ran a story by W. Horace Carter about a trip he took to Burgaw on April 29, in order to attend a Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting. Carter stopped in Bladenboro to pick up Lumberton Jaycees, Jim Phillips and E.J. Britt. The meeting ran much longer than they expected, so they didn’t leave Burgaw until approximately 10:30 PM. (Carter)

The three drove through Elizabethtown toward Bladenboro and around a quarter to twelve they witnessed “a huge cat-like animal” jump out of the woods into the road around 100 feet in front of the car. It disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared, but the three witnesses were positive that it wasn’t a bobcat, as they all saw it had a long tail, which “appeared to be about half the length of the cat itself”. The three witnesses described a creature remarkably similar to the vampire cat. Carter didn’t explicitly state that it was the Beast of Bladenboro. It was clear, however, that it was a frightening experience that he wished to not repeat. (Carter)

December 15, 1954

An alleged strike from the beast, had residents of Robeson concerned that the Beast of Bladenboro was back “on the prowl.” The attack happened “within shouting distance” of Robeson Memorial Hospital, where the beast killed five pigs and three chickens on a farm belonging to K. M. Biggs. The killings left behind no blood evidence. This indicated that there was a recurrence of the blood-sucking traits associated with the vampire cat. (“’Beast Of’”)

The Return of the Beast of Bladenboro

The shocking pattern returned with a vengeance in October 2007. More than fifty pets and livestock died in a strikingly similar way to the killings of 1954. The victims showed little sign of struggle, this indicated that they died instantly. Leading experts believe that the creature is an efficient predator. Those who examined the bodies postmortem would find that the victims not only had their blood drained, but their skulls crushed as well. (MonsterQuest)

The beast claimed a larger hunting ground and roamed an approximately two-hundred-mile range. This information shocked authorities, as it meant it had a larger range than any known predator of the region. Townspeople reported incidents in Bolivia, Bladenboro, Lexington, and Greensboro. A new name for the creature circulated—The Beast of Bolivia.

More Dogs found dead…

After the more recent attacks, new witness descriptions of the creature surfaced—with claims that it was dark brown, approximately 4.5 feet long, with the face of a cat, claws of a dog, and vampiric teeth. Due to the areas the creature has claimed as its hunting ground many assume that the predator dwells primarily in the swamps.

In Lexington, a local farmer found approximately sixty goats with their blood drained and heads crushed. Thirty miles away, in Greensboro, another farmer lost his goats in the same way. Residents of Bolivia became concerned that the vampire cat had returned after several dogs had turned up dead. One morning Bill Robinson, a resident of Bolivia, found his pitbull gutted in his yard. Robinson proceeded to bury his dog quite a distance from where he had found it laying dead. The next morning Robinson discovered his dog was back where it had been lying dead the day before. The beast allegedly unearthed and dragged the carcass back to the origin of the kill. Robinson’s dog was just one of ten that had been found slaughtered in the area, over a two-week period.

New tracks found…

Four days after Robinson found his dog dead in his backyard, another resident of Bolivia—Leon Williams—found his own pit bull dead, covered in blood, and missing a few body parts. There was no sign of a struggle which Williams found incredibly strange considering his dog’s breed. Around that time, Robinson found unidentifiable tracks in the surrounding area. Robinson measured the tracks and found that they were 4.5 inches in diameter. The town of Bolivia grew more apprehensive, due to the inexplicable dog deaths, and as a result, parents kept their children inside.

Scientists Remain Skeptical and Unimpressed

Over the decades this alleged vampire cat has had several eyewitnesses who have all come back with fairly similar descriptions. Skeptics theorize that it’s due to the Beast being a variety of Eastern Puma, since common descriptors include the beast being black in color, 3-4 feet in length, with an approximately 14-inch tail, and an estimated 20-inch shoulder height (Eberhart 37).

MonsterQuest aired an episode about the Beast of Bladenboro in 2008 due to a recurring pattern of animal deaths. In this episode, Tom Padget, a now-retired biologist from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission appeared to lend his expertise. He spoke on the claims that he received yearly calls on the death of wildlife and pets, but his scientific background leads him to question the existence of a vampiric beast. Instead, he hypothesizes that the killings are simply other, known predators and that it happens more regularly than most people are aware of. (MonsterQuest)

For Padgett, it was clear that the physiological abilities of cougars would surpass that of the dogs and other animals in the area. Extreme habitat loss and logging at the turn of the last century had all but extirpated the cougar from North Carolina. Up to that time, there had been no documented evidence that cougars existed in North Carolina for the past century.

New Evidence Surfaces…

The evidence came one month after the initial investigation when Bill Robinson and Brian Gardner received an update from a photographer that happened upon a startling find. Less than half a mile from the homes of Robinson and Williams, the photographer captured a blurry image of a cougar. MonsterQuest did not bother to authenticate the photo in question, but they concluded that people were experiencing a resurgence of cougars reclaiming territory. This, of course, took into consideration the fact that the cougar had been extinct through the east coast of America—except the tip of Florida—for the past century. (MonsterQuest)

Immortalized into Folklore

To this day, the Beast of Bladenboro remains a genuine terror to central North Carolinian communities. The North Carolina Folklore Society added the story of the Beast of Bladenboro to its annals in 1976. Over the last seventy years, the residents of Central North Carolina have pieced together a recurring pattern they have imputed to being the alleged vampire cat.

Related Creatures

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Check out this list of related creatures to learn more about Cryptids alive in legend and urban folklore:

  • Ball-tailed Cat
  • Chupacabra
  • Splintercat
  • Vampire
  • Wampus Cat
  • Wolpertinger

Works Cited

“Beast Fest.” Boost the Boro, Inc., https://www.boosttheboro.org/beast-fest.html. Accessed 9 May 2023.

“’Beast Of Bladenboro’ Type Killer Strikes In Robeson” The Robesonian [Lumberton, NC], 15 Dec. 1954, p. 9.

“Bulletins, Bladenboro, N.C.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 8 Jan. 1954, p. 1. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-01-08/ed-1/seq-1/.

“Bulletins, Bladenboro, N.C.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 14 Jan. 1954, p. 2. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-01-14/ed-1/seq-2/.

Byers, Thomas. “The Vampire Beast of North Carolina.” Exemplore, 16 Mar. 2023, https://exemplore.com/cryptids/The-Vampire-Beast-Of-North-Carolina.

Carter, W. Horace, “Carter’s Column: That Bladenboro Beast Again” Tabor City Tribune [NC], 5 May 1954, p 2. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn91068761/1954-05-05/ed-1/seq-2/.

Eberhart, George M., Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2012.

Gallehugh Jr., Joseph F., “The Vampire Beast of Bladenboro.” North Carolina Folklore, vol. 24, no. 2, Aug 1976, pp. 53-58.

Godfrey, Linda S., American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America, Penguin Publishing Group, Aug 2014.

“Mad Wolf Feared: Vampire Killer Roams At Large In Bladenboro,” Charlotte Observer [NC], 5 Jan. 1954, p. 1.

“News Shorts, Bladenboro, N.C.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 7 Jan. 1954, p. 2. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-01-07/ed-1/seq-2/.

“’Runty-Looking Ears’ Beast of Bladenboro Seen Again” The Daily Tar Heel [Chapel Hill, NC\

“S. Ray Johnson Takes New Post.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 8 Feb. 1954, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-02-08/ed-1/seq-5/.

“State News Briefs, Bladenboro'” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 5 Jan. 1954, p. 6.

“The Beast of Bladenboro.” The Beast of Bladenboro | North Carolina Ghosts, https://northcarolinaghosts.com/piedmont/beast-bladenboro/. Accessed 5 May 2023.

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From the Original Vampires to Modern Representations in Movies

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Vampire woman walking through the forest
Photography by Racheal Lomas

Have you ever wondered where the modern vampire first appeared within human history? Well, any documentation outside of ancient mythology came with historic value, from credible sources such as historian William of Newburgh. Due to his reputation as a noteworthy and careful historian, his History of English Affairs serves as one of the earliest records of vampire phenomena of the British Isles. Unfortunately, his reliance upon spoken folklore caused these chronicles to come under scrutiny and these chronicles are often considered to have vague and inaccurate content. The reliance on this folklore was due to commonplace belief in the dead returning to life as vampires, so it seemed that diminishing these beliefs would have been considered a disregard of viable information. The relish with which Willaim of Newburgh accounts for the living dead in several of his chronicles is present in his History of English Affairs, he speaks of visible ghosts or animated corpses that were believed to have returned from the grave to terrorize the living–his reports documented several stories of the undead, however, they do not attest to any blood consumption by such creatures. So were these true vampires he was documenting or were these revenants a different type of demon or spirit that was dedicated to terrorizing those who still lived? Well, they did have a few similarities with what we consider vampires.

The first report from William of Newburgh occurred in Buckinghamshire, in which a man returned from the grave and assaulted his wife for several nights; when she finally told her family about what was happening, her husband returned to terrorize her family and her neighbors as well. Only when a local clergyman wrote an absolution and placed it upon the corpse, was the body formally bound to the grave. Another report from History of English Affairs states that the body of a deceased clergyman escaped from his grave to haunt the abbey and in particular a woman from the town in which he had served in life. This woman sought out a monk who vowed to stand guard over the grave at night; when the corpse tried to escape from the grave again, the monk attacked it with an ax until it returned to its grave. When a group of monks dug up the corpse the next day, they found it sleeping in a pool of its own blood from ax wounds. They burned the corpse to ashes to prevent it from coming back again. This wasn’t the only account in which the returning corpse was burned to ashes in order to keep it from returning, as it is a common belief that vampires are exceptionally difficult to kill, but their vulnerability lies during the day while they are sleeping. As nocturnal creatures, they reportedly avoided the sunlight and then would come out at night as a means to hide their true nature. None of these reports indicated a bloodlust, but it’s still possible that these instances were missed.

Vampire lovers aren’t always aware of the vast amounts of lore that is connected to their favored creatures of the night, but the long history of the blood-sucking undead is as colorful as it is convoluted and complex. Within what can be considered the modern era, the lore attached to vampires has inspired hundreds of books, movies, and television references to these creatures and will continue to do so in times to come.

Ambrogio, the First Vampire

Swan with open wings on a lake
Photography by Kari

The very first recorded story that depicts the origin of vampires is from ancient Greek mythology, it is not as well-referenced as it should be in modern times. This story came from Delphi, a city that has existed and been inhabited since 1600 BC–the Scriptures of Delphi written by the infamous Oracle of Delphi were one of many archaeological discoveries that have emerged. These scriptures provided a solid foundation of ancient beliefs and evidence, but there are reportedly other archaeological finds that date back even further into ancient times that validate the existence of vampires. Within these scriptures is a section that has come to be known as the “Vampire Bible,” which tells the story of a man named Ambrogio, an Italian adventurer whose lifelong dream was to have his fortune told by the Oracle of Delphi.

Upon meeting this Oracle, she offered only a few cryptic phrases which translated to, “The curse. The moon. The blood will run.” Needless to say, our hero Ambrogio was disturbed by this message and spent the night pondering this message and its possible meanings. When the morning came, a sister of the Oracle, the beautiful young maiden Selene, came to care for her sister and the temple as she did every morning–upon meeting her, he decided to stay and met with her again every morning before he fell deeply in love with her. He asked for her hand in marriage and to return with him to Italy, but the god Apollo had watched this all unfold and took great disrespect that a mortal would try to take the maiden that was dedicated to him.

In a rage, Apollo cursed Ambrogio so that the sun would burn his flesh, which kept him from meeting Selene again the next morning and depart with her to his homeland. Ambrogio sought the protection of Hades, having fled to the caves, and the god of the underworld made a deal and Ambrogio had to leave his soul with Hades. Hades bestowed upon Ambrogio a magical wooden bow with eleven arrows, with which he was to hunt and kill a creature and offer it up to Artemis in order to gain her favor; once this had happened, he would have to steal her silver bow and deliver it back to Hades in order to retrieve his soul. Unfortunately for Ambrogio, he squandered the arrows killing swans and writing poetry to Selene in their blood. Realizing his plight, he stole the silver bow of Artemis anyway, but upon discovery of her missing bow, she too cursed Ambrogio, so that the touch of silver would also burn his flesh.

This new curse caused him to be unable to deliver the bow to Hades and in his grief, he fell to his knees and begged for mercy–Artemis felt pity for him and gave him one more chance. She bestowed upon Ambrogio the speed and strength of a god so that he would be as powerful a hunter as she was, as well as fangs so he may draw blood from his prey and continue to write his poetry. Newly immortal, Ambrogio was to abandon all other gods but the virgin goddess Artemis and with that pursuit of any physical love with Selene. Even though he agreed to the demands of Artemis, he wrote Selene a message that night, instructing her to meet with him on his ship. She found a coffin in the hull of the ship, with a note attached that told her to order the ship to sail and to not open the coffin until sunset–they ended up living inside of the caves of Ephesus together for many years, Ambrogio not having aged a day but Selene, still a mortal fell sick with age.

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Statue of the Greek Goddess Selene

Ambrogio knew that he would not be able to spend the afterlife with Selene because Hades still possessed his soul, so he sacrificed a swan to Artemis to gain the favor of her appearance. Artemis was pleased with his loyalty and service to her, so she made him one final deal, that he may touch Selene one time in order to drink her blood. Upon drinking her blood, her mortal body would die, but she would return an immortal like himself and they would be able to spend eternity together. Selene’s spirit rose to the heavens and at the behest of Artemis became the Goddess of moonlight, where her soft light would touch Ambrogio and the children of the night who were created by him.

The Truth Behind the Legend of Dracula

In the whole of vampire lore, there are no stories that have caused more fear than Dracula; this legendary creature was invented by Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel, Dracula. His novel has inspired more horror movies, television shows, and books than any other vampire origin story–while Dracula as a character in the book is entirely fictional, Stoker actually gave him the likeness of a real historical figure who lusted after blood, who was rumored to have executed between 40,000 and 100,000 people in his famous fashion of impalement. According to legend, Vlad III allegedly feasted on the blood of the dying victims as they writhed in agony, but according to the historical references of Vlad Tepes he was regarded as a hero of his land.

Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia

Son of Vlad Dracul, Vlad Tepes the Prince of Wallachia is more famously known as Vlad the Impaler–this moniker served as testimony to the brutal way in which he dealt with his enemies. Born in 1431 in what is now known as Transylvania, a central region of Romania–but according to a professor of medieval history and archaeology at the University of Florida, there is no record of Vlad Tepes ever having owned property in Transylvania. This means that while Stoker’s Dracula may be centralized in Transylvania, the historic Dracula, Vlad Tepes, didn’t have much to do with Transylvania after his birth. The supposed Castle Dracula was never inhabited by Vlad III, but has been turned into a tourist attraction due to its location and physical appearance.

The Order of the Dragon

The year of Vlad the Impaler’s birth, his father was inducted into the Order of the Dragon, an order of knights, the designation of which earned Vlad II the surname of Dracul, the old Romanian word which translated to “dragon,” this was derived from a related word, drac which translated to “devil.” Eventually, this would lead Vlad III to inherit the surname and come to be known as Drăculea, son of Dracul.

Vlad the Impaler

According to the legends that were spoken after the death of Vlad III, he got the name of the Impaler, when he was the voivode, or ruler of Wallachia. He had invited hundreds of boyars–aristocratic Romanians, who had played a pivotal role in dethroning him–to a banquet where he had them all killed and impaled upon spikes while they were still warm. The terror he reigned and the blood he spilled didn’t stop there, as he is also credited with doing the same to dozens of Saxon merchants who had allied themselves with the boyars who had stolen his throne. Another alleged bloody tale is when a group of Ottoman messengers refused to take their turbans off due to religious necessity, at which point Vlad had their turbans nailed to their skulls so they would forever remain on their hands.

Dante and Virgil in Hell by William Adolphe Bourguereau (1850)
Dante and Virgil in Hell by William Adolphe Bourguereau (1850)

Films that are based on Dracula

Vampires as they are in the Movies

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Telling the Difference Between Demonic Entities

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Horror Mystery and Lore

Possession movies, even when they are highly religious in context, bring in huge crowds of fans, starting with The Exorcist (1973) and continuing on throughout the years, we never really get down to the brass tacks of demonic entities, who they are—or might be—and the people they have affected. Demon lore is complex in every religion and affiliated culture, there are elaborate organizational schemes for demons dated back from the 16th and 17th centuries and yet we still have so little understanding of them. For the many ills and misfortunes that plague the human race, there is the possibility of a demonic association that leads to exorcisms in many cultures. Specifically, in Catholicism, exorcisms deal with demonic possession, in which demons are said to battle for control of the soul of the victim they have targeted, these practices date back to 1614.

The Demons that Invade Our Lives

Christian demonologist Johann Weyer estimated that there were nearly 7.5 million demons that served as minions to 72 different princes of hell. Each of these demons belongs to a class of demons; to name a few, there are demons that attack people in their sleep, drain vitality, or possess those who are struggling with their own identity. So, let’s take a look at the different types of demonic entities that go beyond the typical Catholic exorcism expectations.

Attractive demoness
Photography by Alice Alinari

The Succubus

During the Middle Ages, authorities within the Christian religion asserted the existence of sex demons, which they furthered that to insinuating that sex with such demons was a sign of witchcraft. Although it’s a widely accepted possibility in the paranormal community, the stories and theories of such acts are described as horrific to experience. To be clear, while this may sound like an exciting ride for some lonely people out there, it’s not something that anyone in their right mind would purposefully pursue—it’s never consensual.

The Djinn

Collection of Genie Lamps--don't summon a Djinn!
Photography by Louis Hansel

Between 100 and 400 AD, the Testament of Solomon was written, which served as a list for Hebrew, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian demons. The Djinn are self-propagating, malicious, yet mortal demons. They are an invisible creature by nature but have shape-shifting abilities so they may better stalk their prey. Solomon was able to control these types of demons which he called djinn with his magical ring and he would frequently treat them as his own personal slaves by making them transport him wherever he wished upon their backs.

My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915. Fritz Schwimbeck
My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915.

The Nightmare

The story of this nocturnal visitor originated in the ancient world, in which a spirit or demon would come into the room of its sleeping victim, male or female, to incapacitate the individual and feed off of their vitality. In all reported cases, it is said the victim awakens to either a heavy weight on their chest or one that starts at their feet and progresses to their chest, either way, they are unable to move out from under the weight of the night hag. As they’re feeding off of the individual, the victim feels as if they’re suffocating and paralyzed, despite being fully conscious. Victims of the night hag end up reporting feeling groggy, sick, and otherwise exhausted both mentally and physically the next day.

Western-style vampire bears her fangs.
Photography by Rondell Melling

The Vampire

Now just wait, you’re probably conjuring up an image of Dracula hunched in a dark window of his castle in Transylvania, brooding and dangerous. The concept of the vampire in modern culture, especially since Stoker’s rendition, are the undead who return to kill and torture the living, but the actual origin is somewhat different. Older than the Slavic version of Dracula is a supernatural and demonic entity that did not actually take human form and it spans the world with small variations.

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Urban Legend: Louisiana Vampires

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Vampires have been one of the most beloved and obsessed-over monsters in popular culture ever since F.W. Murnau’s highly influential silent horror film, Nosferatu (1922). The dark-dwelling bloodsuckers appear frequently to this day, from mainstream titles such as Resident Evil: Village and Twilight to lesser-known works like Stakeland and What We Do In The Shadows. In fact, vampires have existed long before these in many aspects of human culture, fantasized about in folklore and depicted in a myriad of mystical and horrifying tales throughout history. Widely reported from Eastern Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries, some surmise that the vampire was born from paranoia of widespread illness, though certain figures have been particularly convincing in the existence of these nocturnal immortals.

New Orleans 19th Century

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Cut to 19th Century New Orleans, one of the most prominent places in regards to hauntings, vampire sightings, and cult speculation. Tuberculosis, consumption, and syphilis are running rampant. In a city so accustomed to suffering, fear quickly becomes paranoia, which in turn rapidly morphs into superstition and comprehensive folklore. Among these, and strangely enough confirmed by the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, is the account of real vampires living in New Orleans.

Louisiana Vampires

The city was the inspiration for many of Anne Rice’s gothic novels, most notably 1976’s Interview With The Vampire, whose story was also based there. Many locals would take the tale further, claiming that multiple real vampires reside in their city. Some would reference the brothers John and Wayne Carter, who in the 1930s were arrested following a string of peculiar murders. The brothers, it was found, drained the blood of over a dozen victims using some unknown method, and were only caught out when a blood-soaked woman managed to escape their New Orleans apartment. When the brother’s corpses disappeared entirely from their family’s funeral vault, suspicion and surmise only grew as to their true nature, and their true species. Reports of sightings of the brothers occur to this very day.

While New Orleans is by no means the first place to encounter the Louisiana vampire legend, (some instances go as far back as ancient Greek Mythology!), it is definitely holds prominence as the home of the most infamous documented vampire existence in the world. To explore this we must dive back to 1700s France where a man, if he can so be called, by the name of Comte St. Germain came into the public eye. While this was the first solid evidence of his existence, figures from around the globe such as French historian and philosopher Voltaire, King Louis XV, and Italian writer and adventurer Casanova all professed to have met the timeless individual. He was said to have been an alchemist, one who knew all and never died, who grew diamonds and created beautiful jewels from stones. The alchemist attending the execution of Marie Antoinette was apparently trained by Comte St. Germain, and claimed to have sighted him at the deadly proceedings, long after he was known to have died.

Skip ahead two hundred years to when a French immigrant known as Jacques St. Germain interloped to the US, settling into a place on Royal Street, New Orleans. Coincidence, no? Any right-minded historian would no doubt agree. However, stranger still was the man’s wit, charm and charisma, his seemingly ageless appearance and the painstaking detail in the tales he told of hundreds of years past. He threw parties that would roll Gatsby’s eyes, all while never consuming a single bite of the food he offered his guests. A few tales surround Jacques St. Germain in this period, including guests claiming he tried to bite their necks, bottles of red wine in his house that later were found to be human blood, and the fact that he didn’t own a single utensil. By the time baffled police made these discoveries in his home, Jacques St. Germain was gone, never to return.


These days, according to a survey by the Atlanta Vampire Alliance, there are over five thousand people in the US today who identify as a vampire. Over fifty of these live in New Orleans alone, past superstitions making the place a veritable hotspot for dwellers of the dark, immortal or not.

References

https://uk.hotels.com/go/usa/creepy-new-orleans
https://pelicanstateofmind.com/louisiana-love/jacques-st-germain-louisiana-vampire/

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Vampire

Date of Discovery

Vampires date back to prehistory and were significantly lacking in physical documentation until the “Scriptures of Delphi,” were discovered during the second half of the 19th century. Having been written somewhere around 450BC, it predated any other known documentation of vampires. These creatures didn’t actually appear by name until 1047 in a more modern Russia.

Name

The Vampire as we know the legend today has had many names over the years, such as the original name it was known by, Upir, which was discovered in the document from 1047 which referred to a Russian prince as an Upir Lichy, which translates into, “wicked vampire.”

Alternative names for the vampire (French) are derivations from the original form, Upir, as vampyre (Archaic), vampir (German), vàmpīr (Serbo-Croatian), *ǫpyrь (Proto-Slavic), upýrʹ (Russian), and upiór (Polish).

Descendants of the original vampire lore are known as bhêmpayar (Bengali), vaimpír (Irish), vanpaia/banpaia (Japanese), vhĕmpāyar (Marathi), wɛm-paai (Thai), bhampair (Scottish-Gaelic), vampiri (Swahili), and fampir (Welsh) just to name a few–all of the terms that are used to describe the vampire are related etymologically.

There are many creatures that resemble the vampire in nature but are not directly related to the original demon.

Physical Description

Due to the wide variety of characterizations of vampires, but they are often portrayed as sharp-fanged humanoid creatures–they are typically said to have pale skin and range in physical appearance from grotesque to preternaturally beautiful depending on the source of the folklore.

Origin

Having originated during prehistoric times, it’s difficult to know just how they came into being. Although not always documented as the first official legend of vampires the “Scriptures of Delphi,” were found in the archaeological sites of Delphi, said to be written by the infamous Oracle of Delphi. The scriptures have within, there is a section known as the “Vampire Bible,” which is, of course, used as a colloquial term. The “Vampire Bible,” speaks about the first vampire, Ambrogio.

The first, more modern document that is known to enter vampires into legend in the new age as Upir, appeared a significant amount of time after the Scriptures of Delphi were written and subsequently lost to time.

The first known document that has entered them into legend is clear that the vampire existed well before the word for it did. In 1190, “De Nagis Crialium,” was written by Walter Map and accounts for vampire-like beings in England. Just six years later and William of Newburgh’s, “Chronicles,” accounted for several more stories of vampire-like revenants which also occurred in England. As far as is known, this was the last time they were written about until the 1400s, after Vlad Tepes, son of Vlad Dracul was born. Vlad Dracul or, “Vlad the Dragon,” was the father of the man that the world came to know as Vlad the Impaler–the original Dracula.

Mythology and Lore

Blood and flesh consuming revenants or demons can be found in nearly every culture worldwide; these creatures were incredibly well documented in each of these cultures. Before they were known as vampires, they were considered demons or spirits, and are often still comparable to demons in modern pop-culture. In the millennia that the legends of vampires have existed, there are only a handful that have truly captured attention worldwide. Most of these originate from the 1700s and particularly Transylvania –where there were reports of vampires that came from evil beings, suicide victims, witches, a malevolent spirit inhabiting a corpse, or being bitten by another vampire. This actually caused mass hysteria in many regions and was followed by believed vampires being publically executed.

Tales like Ambrogio, Dracula, Nosferatu, and more have led to the evolution of the vampire legend and turned these creatures into one of the most popular and well-known figures in horror culture.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Due to the immensely popular nature of the vampire, these modern media references are but a raindrop in the ocean of what can be found in literature, movies, and television series.

Books

Movies

Television Series



Is there anything we missed about vampires? Let us know in the comments section below!

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