As one of the original colonies, Rhode Island certainly has a large amount of history, so it’s no surprise that occasionally our teachers may leave out a few just for the sake of brevity. Other stories however, may be left out because they are just too frightening for children to hear, and these stories fall into that category. Brace yourself for some spooky history!
1. The Mercy Brown vampire incident
Mercy Brown was a victim of a vampire panic in 1892. She tragically passed of tuberculosis along with multiple other relatives. However, the locals became convinced that Mercy has in fact been transformed into a vampire, and when they exhumed her body, it was said there was still blood in her heart and that her hair and fingernails had grown. The myths said that burning Mary's heart and liver would put a stop to her vampirism, and that's what was done. The ashes were made into a tonic that was given to her brother, who passed of the same disease only two months later. Mary's grave lies in Exeter Rhode Island, and many still visit to pay homage to this day.
2. The horrors of Ladd School
The Ladd School as it is now know, was opened in 1908 with the unfortunate name of The Rhode Island School for the feeble minded. Though it changed names over the years, one thing remained a constant, the tragic over crowding and mistreatment of the residents of the school of all genders and ages. Many patients were kept there without consent and the conditions were grossly unhygienic and cruel. There were multiple attempts to revamp the location and make it better for patients, but they never seemed to hit the mark on being a truly beneficial institution. The school was finally closed in 1993, but not after a multitude of scandals relating to the treatment of those residing there. For a long time the buildings remained dormant and began to fall apart, being a favorite place to visit for risk taking high schoolers who believed they might encounter angered spirits of past residents. The last buildings were torn down in 2013, but the horrifying legacy still remains.
3. The haunting of Carey mansion
Built in 1907, Carey Mansion in Newport is the largest privately owned summer home of its era, so it has definitely seen a lot of history. The home is said to be one of the most haunted in the Northeast, with one of the past owners staunchly refusing to leave, even in death. Visitors see apparitions of people, hear banging doors, and phantom footsteps. The mansion has been featured on Ghost Hunters, and in our opinion, even if the hauntings are all rumors, this home still holds a deep connection to the history of Rhode Island and deserves to be spoken about more.
4. Block Island has a ghost ship
Every winter, residents of Block Island claim to see an apparition of a ship on fire appear on the water. This ship is said to be the Palatine, a large vessel that ran aground on the island the day after Christmas. The ship had on 240 immigrants from Germany as well as a 14 man crew, and unfortunately poor conditions on the ship meant many passengers died before the ship crashed into Block Island. There are multiple versions of what happened next, but what we know for sure is that 20 of these dead passengers are buried on the island. Either the crew set the ship on fire, or they repaired it and escaped, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves, but no matter what, no part of the trip went as it should, and it seems likely that some angered spirits were left behind that may bring back visions of this boat around the anniversary of the crash.
5. Slater Mill's history of death has left some spirits behind
Pawtucket's Slater mill is iconic in Rhode Island. Running alongside the Blackstone River, this complex has a long and storied history as an industrial building, and now lives a second life as an educational museum. Unfortunately, as is the nature of industrial jobs, more than a few people passed away at the mills, and often in not so peaceful manners. Multiple paranormal investigators have checked out the space and claim that there are spirits making the mills their home to this day.
6. The ghosts of two children live in Colt State park
This story is more legend than history, but it is so widely spread we think it is most likely true. Colt State park is often called "the gem of the state park system," and is absolutely gorgeous, but that beauty doesn't make it immune to tragedy. According to many rumors, two children drowned in the waters at Colt State, and it is said that they follow visitors to the park on their paths and laugh eerily behind them in attempt to keep them out of their space.
7. Brenton state park has haunted ruins
All that remains of the once grand Bells Estate are the ruins of the stables and carriage house, and possibly some spirits. The man who built the home was an enthusiastic collection or items from Egypt and the Middle East, and many people believed that his collection (likely illegally obtained,) was cursed. After the land changed hands, the majority of the estate burned down and the area was later turned into the stunning park we see today. Visitors to the ruins (which are gated off to prevent injury,) have reported hearing horse hooves and disembodied voices that are not attached to any living thing. Park Rangers are said to fully avoid the ruins at some times of day. We may not exactly know what happened here, but it seems that the original owners collecting hobby certainly left behind some bad energy.
Aren’t these tales both terrifying and tragic? It’s no wonder our teachers decided to skip over them in history class! Which of these stories were you most affected by?
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