The Vampire Graves of Jewett City: The Legend of Connecticut's Undead, Blood-Sucking Vampire Family

The Vampire Graves of Jewett City: The Legend of Connecticut’s Undead, Blood-Sucking Vampire Family

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Every town has its mysteries, but some places hold secrets far more bizarre than others. Take Jewett City, Connecticut, a small city that’s home to 3500 people.. and a handful of vampires.

The strange tale of the Jewett City Vampires begins in the middle of the 1800s, when a local family began to notice that they were falling victim to a strange illness. Henry Ray and his three sons were slowly wasting away, each day a bit weaker than the last, almost as if something was visiting them in the night, sucking the life force from their bodies. The family attempted everything they could to diagnose the men, but despite their efforts, their relatives continued to die, thin and frail, shadows of their former selves.

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In May of 1853, the family held a meeting. The Rays believed that the undead were stalking the countryside, targeting the farming community, and feeding on victims in the dead of night, turning their friends and family members into foul creatures who would rise from the grave and do the same. Fearing the return of their brothers, the Ray family marched to the local cemetery, exhumed the bodies of their dead, and set them ablaze. When the flames died down, the vampire hunters rearranged the bones, then re-buried the bodies, this time for good.

The drastic measures seemed to work. As the years wore on, the mysterious illness began to slowly disappear, and the countryside was once again safe from the threat of the undead.

Despite their exhumation being witnessed by a huge crowd, even written about in the local newspaper, the tale of the Jewett City Vampires was chalked up as nothing more than a folk tale. Then, in the early 90s, some local kids made a startling discovery that changed all that.

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Two boys from the nearby town of Hopeville were sliding down a gravel bank when they noticed they had kicked up some strange, round objects with their feet. Those objects turned out to be skulls. The boys reported their find to their parents, who called the city, and within days, archaeologists had discovered an unmarked cemetery. One grave, though, was particularly interesting.

Hidden inside a coffin marked “JB-55” was the body of a man who had been completely dismembered, his skull pulled from his spine and placed in his chest cavity, his femurs crossed in an “X” just below his skull. It had all the identifying marks of the local legends: this body had belonged to a vampire.

Vampire skull

Local researchers believed that the man had been disinterred five years after his burial in the late 1700s, and his bones rearranged in order to prevent him from returning from the grave. It was the first real evidence that the Connecticut vampire scourge was more than a legend.

The thought that blood-sucking, undead creatures may have roamed the New England countryside is a chilling one, but there’s no reason to stock up on garlic and start whittling wooden stakes. As it turns out, the rash of vampire-killings that spread through Connecticut can be chalked up to a lack of modern medical knowledge.

Analysis of the disorganized bones discovered in the mysterious “JB-55” coffin show signs of a disease commonly referred to as “consumption” at the time. Had these “vampire attacks” occurred several decades later, the locals would have realized that the only thing ravaging the farming community of Jewett was tuberculosis.

Today, those visiting the Jewett City Cemetery can still see the graves of the “vampires” that caused such a widespread panic throughout the state, and, if you’re feeling particularly morbid, you can even stand in the very spot they were exhumed, burned, and dismembered.

On second though, maybe you should bring some holy water. Just in case.

Does your town have its own vampire legends? We want to hear about them! Drop us a line on Facebook, tweet us @WeirdHQ, or start a conversation in the comments below!


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Greg Newkirk

Greg Newkirk

Editor-In-Chief at Week In Weird
Writer, adventurer, and professional monster chaser, Greg Newkirk is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of Week In Weird, Director of The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult and one-half of the prolific investigative duo Planet Weird. Learn more about Greg.
Greg Newkirk
Greg Newkirk

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I live in Rhode Island, not far from Jewett City which I visit frequently – though only in the daytime.
Which may account for my own continued healthy blood pressure.

This story resembles the tale of Mercy Brown, the famous Exeter, RI vampire, buried in a graveyard in which various spooky happenings have been reported over the years. I visit that particular cemetery now and then…to check up on some of my ancestors.

Very cool

Hi gents, if you haven’t read it already, I highly, highly recommend Michael E. Bell’s “Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires” for more info about these cases — and lots of others.

I love these old New England vampire stories! Jewett City is home to one of my favorite huge old mill flea markets, but I never heard about this story in all my trips down there! Going to have to check it out the next time I go, thank you!

As a resident of Jewett City I heard these stories all my life.. This town has been on ghost stories, comcast on demand either has orbused to have something about the witches as well. The cemetary is old and looks perfect for stories like these. Unfortunately this town has also been victim to the Michael Ross killings.

I had a weird dream the other day that I was hunting and killing vampires by bashing their heads in with my foot.

I was a previous resident of Lisbon during my teen years… Considering I am currently a member of Ancestry.com, I found that some of my ancestors were residing in the surrounding towns as well and have hit a brick wall with some. Maybe I’m a descendent of a vampire!!!! oooooohhhh

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