Welcome to my funeral parlor! The theme for the room we refer to as the library centers on a tale I like to call, the mystery of the missing undertaker. My library is in the oldest part of my house and was likely built in the 18th century. In doing my research, I believe this is the room where family viewings and funerals took place in the 18th and 19th centuries, as home funerals were the common practice of the day.
I was inspired by a 19th century funeral card I recently purchased at an antique show.
Funeral card for H.M. Rawson, who died on January 20, 1897
Adding my Yankee Candle hearse furthered the theme.
But I wanted it to be a little more mysterious than just a funeral parlor. I wanted to make it a bit more spooky. I have been fascinated by the 19th century New England vampire panic ever since it came to my attention several years ago. In recent years, it has been discovered that the folk belief in vampires took hold of New England during outbreaks of tuberculous in the 19th century. Bodies have been unearthed that tell a terrifying and sad tale. Some were beheaded, their thigh bones crossed beneath their skulls, in a skull and crossbones motif. Their ribs were broken. This likely happened when their hearts were pulled from their chest so they could be burned. During these tuberculous outbreaks, in some remote areas of New England, they believed that those who died of this wasting disease, rose from the dead at night to suck the life out of their family and friends. Not understanding the science of how the disease was spread, and feeling a total loss of control, some communities turned to extreme measures. They dug up their loved ones and desecrated their bodies, hoping to stop all the death. This fascinating panic inspired me to bring in a so-called 19th century New England vampire, with its thigh bones crossed beneath its skull.
Using shoe polish, paint, moss, and glue I turned all the cheap, white, plastic bones in this room into dirty, old looking bones, and they just wouldn't be complete without adding the blood, dripping from the mouth.
In my story of the missing undertaker, our 19th century undertaker dug up the bones of a suspected vampire. In violation of town trust, he did not re-inter the body. Being a man fascinated by death and quack science, he kept the bones to study. In doing so, he cursed himself. In a frightening turn of events, the suspected vampire was indeed a real vampire and quick work was made of the meddling undertaker. He was never heard from again.
Perhaps a warning left on the pumpkin by the unfortunate undertaker?
The undertaker's top hat and bloody gloves were left where he usually sets them, along with some rib bones of the suspected vampire.
On his desk, bones he was examining have been left behind. His gramophone was found playing The Funeral March (it really does play it! I love it.)
That little pumpkin has nothing to do with my story, but I recently found this 1940's piece, and I'm in love with it!
Hope you enjoyed the tour and the little mystery of our missing undertaker and the vampire bones. View past stops on my Halloween house tour, my haunted dining room and festive family room. Come back as the tour continues early next week! Happy haunting!