Chestnut Hill Cemetery - the ghost of Mercy Lena Brown

Chestnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, Victory Highway, Exeter, Rhode Island

In the rural town of Exeter, they still whisper about the vampire that stalked the populace during the late 1800's. However, the vampire they believe to have hunt down hapless victims was in fact a victim herself. Mercy Brown, the suspected vampire, now haunts this small town, ever vigilant that the same desecration that befell her does not happen to another.

Tuberculosis was a scourge in this part of New England. Hundreds succumbed to the horrible pathogen. Seeming as though people were consumed from the inside out, tuberculosis was often called 'consumption'. The symptoms of tuberculosis were awful to witness. The disease ate away at the lungs causing people to develop deep, guttural, coughs. The coughs were often accompanied by blood. A victims skin would become very pale, almost transparent revealing the veins beneath. Due to the frightening symptoms, people often looked to the supernatural to explain these ailments. Even though tuberculosis had been explained by science, treatment would be another fifty years away. People were often sent to sanitariums in hope that they would recover from their ailment.

Tuberculosis became a plague in the town of Exeter, and found the Brown family susceptible.

George and Mary Brown lived a good life as farmers. They were blessed with three children. Among them was the exuberant Mercy. Known as a child that was fearless, Mercy would often be seen walking fences. She was also known for her sharp tongue and short temper. Mercy was often in trouble and the townsfolk saw no good coming from her. The town was distracted from the plague of Mercy when tuberculosis snaked its way into the populace.

Among its victims in the town were Mercy's mother and sister. After their passing the townsfolk would often see Mercy spending most of her time in the graveyard, some said that she talked to the ghosts of her mother and sister there. Around this time the town began to whisper about Mercy, that she was unnatural, and could be the source of the plague.

However, Mercy and her brother Edwin became infected by tuberculosis. Mercy, through pride, stubbornness, and pure strength hid her symptoms. Edwin was sent to a sanitarium, but soon returned, his symptoms worse. Upon his return Edwin made claims that Mercy would come into his room at night and sit on his chest. Today, many believe that Mercy was coming to Edwin's aid, and Edwin's mind, taken by fever, concocted tales.

The tales, however, did their damage and people began to publicly call Mercy a vampire. Mercy, a strong nineteen year old, continued to hide her symptoms from the community, not wanting their pity. Many did not realize that Mercy herself was carrying tuberculosis, they only saw her transforming into a monster. Her skin had paled and her eyes hallowed. Ultimately, Mercy was not strong enough to fight off tuberculosis and after a strong battle died in 1896.

Looking to folklore to explain away the horror surrounding them, the townspeople claimed they saw Mercy Brown exiting her grave at night. They saw her bounding from roofs and saw her feasting on the blood of people. So intense were the claims that Mercy Brown was a vampire that it was decided that they would exhume her body. Mercy's father and brother Edwin were in attendance along with a large crowd of townsfolk. Upon opening Mercy's grave, they had found that decomposition had not taken place, and that when her skin was pricked she bled.

Overcome by fear, the town desecrated Mercy. They pulled her from her grave, cut open her chest and pulled out her ripened heart. They burned the heart on a rock in the graveyard. The townsfolk then mixed the ashes with water and served it to Edwin. Clouded by superstition, they believed this cannibalistic ritual would cure Edwin of tuberculosis. They returned Mercy to her grave, violated.

Edwin was not cured by drinking his sisters ashes. He soon died.

Despite evidence to the contrary many still believed that Mercy continued her vampiric ways. Others, however, witnessed new supernatural activity after the desecration of Mercy Brown. People began to see blue lights emanate from the cemetery. In addition, people would often see Mercy Brown's ghost wandering the cemetery and throughout the town.

Psychics have stated that the ghost of Mercy is unusual. She is able to pass on to the afterlife anytime she wants, however, she has decided to return to the cemetery and the town of Exeter to watch over the recently departed to make sure their rest is not defiled.

Many have seen Mercy's apparition wandering through gravestones at night. Others have stated that they have been pushed off of graves they were unknowingly standing on. People that have witnessed Mercy's ghost describe her as a young woman, often with a stern look on her face. Many people have focused on her eyes, describing them as intense and her stare is unwavering.

Today, the legend of Mercy as a vampire still persists. However as people became more educated about Mercy, and her desecration, it's not unusual for people to say a prayer for Mercy while in the cemetery. People have claimed that when they have said a prayer for Mercy, they are accompanied by the smell of roses following them out.

Many believe that Mercy's ghost is not confined to the cemetery. People believe that she now visits those that are terminally ill in Exeter. People have walked in on loved ones having conversations with Mercy. These conversations have been comforting to people, apparently Mercy tells them not to fear death, that she'll help them find their way.

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Tell us about your paranormal experience, share new information, or ask questions about Chestnut Hill Cemetery - the ghost of Mercy Lena Brown below.


17 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Aug 15, 2008 9:03am [ 1 ]

i think they have leaned alot about mercy i have personally been to chesnut hill cemetry i said a prayer for here and there has been a strong smell of roses so it is true that was my first encounter with her my little brother was termally ill and i could here a girls voice and he said mercy's name a few days later my brother passed away but i know mercy helped him to the other side so it is true for thouse who belve in mercy

Aug 24, 2008 6:52pm [ 2 ]

I have always had a fascination with the supernatural. I have recently taken a vacation in Rhode Island. During my trip I heard of the Mercy Brown story. I found it extremely intriguing. I found that I was actually staying just minutes from Chestnut Hill Baptist Church. I payed two visits to the graveyard that day. On my first visit, I asked Mercy if she was there, and if she could show herself to me. Although I thought my efforts to make contact were ignored, upon leaving I saw an unusually large snake slithering into the wall of stones surrounding the cemetery. I was informed that this type of snake was rarely seen as large as this particular snake. This sparked my curiousity for my second visit. On my second visit I took a small candle to light just before I left. I also took my cell phone to record a couple of voice notes. Although two of the three voice notes were silent, I found an extremely eerie sound on the third. It was the faint moan that lasted about four seconds. I also picked up alot what seemed to be wind, yet there was no wind. Just prior to leaving I lit the candle, three times. All three times the candle was extinguished after a period of ten seconds. On my way out of the cemetary I felt a warming sensation along the pathway. It was extremely odd considering that the ambient air temperature was about 65 degrees, but the pathway was signifigantly warmer, but only along the path. I took two steps off the pathway just to feel the same chill in the air. I definately have an enlightened view on the story, or so called legend.

Nov 5, 2009 9:07am [ 3 ]

WOW, fantastic story, now i am really longing to go to chestnut hill cemetary very soon.

Jan 25, 2010 4:57pm [ 4 ]

i love the story. i went there for just a half an hour during the day, but i cant wait till i come back with friends and scare them. it's gonna be sick. and we are gonna have it on tape.

Jan 26, 2010 3:24pm [ 5 ]

by the way, the real, real story of Mercy Brown is alot longer than that. It started with guy named Malcom Tillinghast.

Aug 22, 2010 11:26pm [ 6 ]

Hi, I'm just curious on where you obtained information on Mercy's personality. Thanks, and I look forward to hopefully hearing back from you.

Sep 25, 2010 11:20am [ 7 ]

Im looking for exact directs too mercy browns grave please if u have them email them to me at: thank u really appreciate it

Sep 28, 2010 4:17pm [ 8 ]

hi m name is anielle i was woundering were i could find the real story was moved by her tale and i to belive that she is really there i want to find ot more i just dont noe were to go if anyone can give meh this info please dont hesitate and e mail me at

Oct 24, 2010 1:35pm [ 9 ]

I actually just visited the cemetery last night with a group of friends. We went at approximately 12:30, the night of a full-moon. We didn't catch much activity, although that was possibly due to the fact that there were twelve of us walking around. With a camera, we did capture orbs of light all around the cemetery, some of which were right near Mercy's grave. There is an uneasy silence about this place, no animals seemed near the cemetery. I had heard rumors about this graveyard, like if you say a prayer for Mercy, you will be able to distinctly smell roses. Along with previously learning about the story of this cemetery, I also heard about after coming close to a bridge, Mercy will appear before you in her tattered dress. Once you have come close to this bridge, when you are leaving, a mysterious truck will appear to be following you, and will disappear once you come to the highway. We came in three cars, my car being in the middle. I noticed out of my rearview mirror that the third car in our party was indeed being followed by a truck. After getting onto the highway, the car that was following us passed us - it wasn't a truck, and it didn't have the square-headlights that most trucks have. Bone-chilling, right? It's a very interesting place to go, but I would not recommend going in a large group. Or, possibly splitting up into smaller groups if you are trying to find any ghost activity.

mary c
Nov 21, 2010 10:57am [ 10 ]

i have been a few times. each time we have seen orbs and felt a prescence at one point as we stood there the first time i felt something on my chest and i was pushed back into my friend and after that my breathing was very heavy . the last time we talked to her and told her we weren't the to disrespect her but were just curious and meant her no harm. at that point my friend and i felt a warmth surround us and we knew she accepted us we stayed with her for awhile until we got chills and we felt something evil had come along but it wasn't her it was something else and we knew it was time to go. we are going tonight to do a protection spell on a full moon.

Apr 17, 2011 2:33pm [ 11 ]

I was there and it's all a joke

Aug 18, 2011 7:32pm [ 12 ]

I am considering writing a full-length short story/chapter on the Mercy Brown case; I've already completed one on the Tillinghast incident. If anyone has any actual insight into Mercy as a person, I would feel very appreciative if you would contact me. So far, I haven't been able to find any additional information on her personally.

Paranormal Fox
Oct 18, 2011 7:59am [ 13 ]

I guess if people would leave her grave alone ( Paranormal type Quests ) She may rest.

megan sederic
Dec 27, 2011 3:34am [ 14 ]

vampires has become an obsession for if you are a vampire then i would seriously like to face you..

Apr 7, 2012 11:26pm [ 15 ]

I was just there tonight and it was definitely an eerie setting. The church alone is enough to freak you out, or was for me and my friends. Unfortunately we didn't find anything significant due to having to leave after only a short period of time. A truck drove past us twice. On the first time it stopped, we went back to our car because it was unlocked. As we got back to the car the truck slowly left. We walked back to the cemetery and just minutes later the truck returned, this time not leaving until we did. Anyways the only things that were noticed where small, sort of ordinary sounds/sights. Upon entering I noticed a small light out in the distance but tried not to exaggerate what actually could be there. A friend also said they faintly heard footsteps. Those were the only two things noticed. The first 3-4 gravestones were knocked over and or broken. Definitely going again soon, it was a very interesting night and hopefully next time will be more successful.

Aug 11, 2012 11:48pm [ 16 ]

I was there tonight with three friends we actually couldnt find her stone we did some recordings and we a woman say or it sounds like hot hut or hunt but i did not get an eerie feeling there it was actually quite peaceful

Jun 22, 2015 10:49pm [ 17 ]

So far I have been unable to find any reliable accounts of what Mercy Lena Brown (she herself preferred to be called Lena) was like as a person. I know she did have friends, and that she was a member of the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church. She was also a talented quilt-maker (one made by her still survives and is privately owned), but anything else about her as an individual seems to be pure speculation. Not surprisingly, her story is often embellished with bits and pieces borrowed from the Sarah Tillinghast account.

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