Post by Graveyardbride on Jul 15, 2014 23:16:55 GMT -5
The Vampires of Dillsboro
In the spring of 1788, a Dr. Alfort and his family showed up in the small mountain community of Dillsboro, North Carolina, where they purchased land and built a fine home near the Tuckasiegee River. The house was large and the doctor set aside some of the first-floor rooms for an office and apothecary. There were rumors the Alforts were descended from royalty and townsfolk were happy to have another doctor in the community.
All went well at first, but then two men who had been treated by Dr. Alfort for gout suddenly passed away from unknown causes. Both were well-liked, productive members of the town and many considered their deaths suspicious. However, the local minister managed to calm the hotheads who were accusing Dr. Alfort of wrongdoing, explaining that tomorrow is promised to no man and anyone can die at any time in accordance with the will of God.
Normalcy returned to Dillsboro and there were no further incidents until that fall when the minister’s wife entered their children’s room and saw what she described as a dark figure hovering above their young daughter, who had been in perfect health when she went to bed. The woman screamed and other members of the household came running, but the girl was dead. There were no obvious signs of illness or injury, other than a small amount of blood on the pillow from two puncture wounds on the child’s throat.
Something wasn’t right in Dillsboro. Someone reported seeing a huge, bat-like creature flying about one night – an animal so large it could not be of this world. People started closing their doors and windows and families huddled together, afraid to leave their children unprotected in a separate room.
A few nights later, a young boy came racing into town and knocked frantically at the door of his grandparents' home. He insisted that “something” was attacking his mother and father in their house up the hill. His grandfather summoned some neighbors and a small group of men made their way to the house on the hill where they found the boy’s parents and their two young daughters dead. There were puncture wounds on the necks of all four corpses. People in nearby communities were alerted and over the next few days, the surrounding hills and valleys were thoroughly searched, but nothing untoward was discovered.
By February 1789, residents were beginning to relax somewhat, but continued to keep their children close and avoided going out alone after dark. Finally though, they were able to convince themselves that whoever, or whatever, had killed the family on the hill had moved on.
Then one evening, screams were heard coming from a house about half-way up the hill and when neighbors arrived, they saw a black form in the shape of a human race down the hill and disappear into the Alfort home. The young couple who lived in the house were found dead with strange bite marks on their throats.
A vigilante group quickly formed and the men made their way to the Alfort house. They pounded on the door and demanded to be let inside, but Dr. Alfort refused. After a short discussion, it was decided that some of the men would stand guard outside the house while others fetched reinforcements. By morning, a large contingent of townsmen forced their way into the Alfort house. Dr. Alfort initially attempted to reason with the group and he was dragged outside and tied to a tree. The upstairs chambers each contained beds, but even though it was early morning, the beds were freshly made and did not appear to have been occupied the previous night. After searching the downstairs, including the doctor’s office and apothecary, they broke down a heavy, locked door and descended the steps to the cellar. There they discovered three coffins. In one lay Mrs. Alfort. She was dressed in black and very much alive. She hissed and cursed as she was pulled from the coffin. The couple’s 15-year-old son was nowhere to be found.
A crowd had gathered outside the Alfort house and the designated leader of the vigilante group addressed them, insisting the Alforts, including their son, were vile, unnatural creatures that fed on the blood of the living in order to sustain themselves. Dr. and Mrs. Alfort were hanged, their corpses placed inside the house and the dwelling set on fire.
The attacks and murders ceased, but were the Alforts really vampires? Or had someone in Dillboro recently visited, or heard about, the “attacks” in Rhode Island, which began around the same time, and jumped to conclusions? However, the Dillsboro deaths differed from those in New England in that none of the New England deaths involved puncture marks or other trauma to the neck, nor the actual drinking of blood. They were, instead, “wasting deaths.” It is, of course, possible someone in Dillsboro had read the 1748 German poem “The Vampire” by Henrich August Ossenfelder:
My dear young maiden clingeth
Unbending, fast and firm
To all the long-held teaching
Of a mother ever true;
As in vampires unmortal
Folk on the Theyse's portal
Heyduck-like do believe.
But my Christine thou dost dally,
And wilt my loving parry
Till I myself avenging
To a vampire's health a-drinking
Him toast in pale tockay.
And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life's blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death's threshold thou' it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother's charms?
Even so, there is nothing in the poem suggesting vampires are able to shape-shift into bats and it is possible the “huge bat-like creature” was added to the story at a later date. After the passage of more than two centuries, unless someone locates an old diary or journal recounting the “vampire” attacks in Dillsboro, we will never know for certain what actually happened, nor what became of Dr. Alfort’s 15-year-old son.
Source: UnexplainedMysteries, Lon Strickler and Mort Atticus Amsel.