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Song: “Mercy Wheeler”

Words and music (c) April Grant (2012)

Now Mercy Wheeler’s in the grave; they buried her today.
And God knows what her folks will do, left up there on the hill,
Or how the girls will all get on, with Mercy and their mother gone.
The twins stayed home to tend her all the time that she was ill.

And she said, “Oh, I’m cold,
It’s so cold in the night.”
Head to toe, pale as bone,
Clothes and skin, ashy white.
She said, “Oh, I’m cold,
It’s so cold in the night,”
She said, “Let me get warm,
Hold me tight.”

They say she’s coming in at night to see the girls alone,
A white sheet wrapped around her, as they laid her in the clay.
The twins and little Callie said she came and tried to get in bed.
Elias and their father woke, and so she went away.

(Chorus) (changing “said” to “says” from now on)

Well, all the Wheeler girls are gone — Amanda, Callie, Grace.
Elias and his dad are seeing Mercy every night.
She wants them with her in the ground, so up she comes, without a sound,
And walks home to the Wheeler place by pale and starry light.


Elias dug her coffin up when he began to fail,
And though she had been buried through the summer and the fall,
The lid was split, and underneath, there Mercy lay with gaping teeth.
There she lay, white, fresh, and young, and not decayed at all.

Elias took a hammer and a rusty railway spike,
And when he drove it through her heart, she gave a little scream.
We burned her up. It took all day. I thought she’d never burn away.
I waited till the ashes cooled, and threw them in a stream.

She comes to my bed late at night just the same,
As though she had never been touched by a flame.


The Mercy Brown vampire incident was a real-world horror. The participants may not have used the word “vampire” but they sure had that concept.
Here’s Mercy’s grave in a handy Atlas Obscura article.
I changed the surname from Brown to Wheeler to distance the song from reality a little bit. In case there are living relatives of Mercy Brown out there, I don’t want them to be insulted by my calling their ancestor an actual vampire, when she was the victim of tuberculosis and mass hysteria.
Printable lyrics here.

Recording: “Mercy Wheeler” on Soundcloud.