Over my dead body!

Famous gravesites in Rhode Island


Emily Dvareckas

Ida Lewis is buried in Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery. Her gravestone serves as a monument for her heroic acts as a lighthouse keeper.

Emily Dvareckas, Photo Editor

H.P. Lovecraft – Providence

In the spirit of Halloween, the list begins with horror author H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was born in Providence in 1890, and he stayed in New England for the majority of his life, ultimately passing away in Providence in 1937. He is the creator of creatures such as Cthulhu, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth and many others through his large collection of weird and horror fiction stories. His body is laid to rest at Swan Point Cemetery, located in Providence, Rhode Island.


Mercy Brown – Exeter

Another Halloween-themed grave is that of Mercy Brown, who died in 1892 at the age of 19. Her grave would not be anything special if it weren’t for the vampire hysteria that plagued New England in the early 1890s. Brown’s story begins with her brother Edwin who suffered from tuberculosis, which was unknown at the time and only referred to as consumption, which then also ravaged through the rest of the Brown family. The matriarch of the family passed away in 1883, followed by her 20-year-old daughter six months later. In the winter of 1892, 19-year-old Mercy Brown succumbed to the illness and passed. Edwin was still alive but barely, and his friends and family opted for a supernatural explanation of the illness once doctors could not help the dying boy. The townspeople began to conclude that Edwin’s mother, or one of his sisters, was not necessarily dead and actually a vampire. The people went to the cemetery and exhumed the bodies of Edwin’s mother and 20-year-old sister, expecting empty caskets, but they were greeted with the bones of the deceased. Next, they went to Mercy Brown’s casket and opened it to discover her body lying on its side, face flushed and blood in her heart and veins. They took this as proof that Mercy was a vampire so they took her heart and lungs and burned them. They then mixed the ashes with water and had Edwin drink the mixture. This, of course, had no effect on him and he succumbed to tuberculosis two months later. Mercy Brown was not the first case of townspeople exhuming a family member’s body and burning the organs believing they were a vampire, but she was the last. Her grave is located in Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island.


Ida Lewis – Newport

Ida Lewis earned the title as “The Bravest Woman in America” during her 46-year tenure at the Lime Rock Light in Newport, Rhode Island. She was born in 1842 and, as a child, earned the reputation of being able to row faster than any man in Newport. She is known for saving 36 people from drowning starting at the age of 12. Her last time saving someone from drowning was at the age of 63. Her father had the official title of lighthouse keeper until his death and then Ida’s mother earned the title. When Ida’s mother died in 1879, Ida became the official lighthouse keeper. Ida passed in 1911 from a stroke but her memory lives on in Newport. She is buried at the Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.


Ann Franklin – Newport

As the name suggests, Ann Franklin was the sister-in-law of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. However, she is much more than just Ben Franklin’s sister-in-law. Her husband, James, passed away in 1735, leaving Ann a widow at 39 years old. With his death, Ann inherited his print shop business. With very little money coming in, Ann petitioned to the General Assembly of Rhode Island and became the official printer for the Rhode Island colony. Later in life, Ann and her son started the Newport Mercury. When she was reaching her 60s, she tried to push the business toward her children but had to take over once again when all three passed early in life. In August of 1762, she became the only editor of the Newport Mercury, which made her the first female editor in the country. She held this responsibility until her death in April of 1763. She is buried at the Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.