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  • A Vampire Story: Decapitating Dad July 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    vanoure grave

    This story appeared in several British newspapers around 10 March 1887. It would be interesting to know whether or not a Continental source could be found for this: or better still a diary of Baron deGostovsky: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    One might imagine that the wheel of time is turning backward on reading the following story which appears in a continental paper. A landed proprietor, Baron deGostovsky, living at Saboucz, near Danzig, made the request that at his death his head should be cut off before his interment, a service which he said he had performed on the body of his wife after her death. ‘We are a family of vampires,’ he added, ‘and if this precaution be not taken we can find no repose in the grave, but come back and bring misfortune to our children.’ The eldest son faithfully fulfilled the father’s request, but notwithstanding this he fell ill a few days after the funeral. Then he went to the cemetery, caused the grave to be opened, turned the body over, and threw the head into a wood near by. Only the slight punishment of a fortnight’s imprisonment, imposed upon the perpetrator of the outrage, was given, on account of the statement of numerous witnesses, all of whom testified that the profanation of the sepulchre had its reason solely in the firmly rooted superstitions; in Lithuanian country districts. 1887

    I’ve found one site that gives a brief extract in French that claims the original story came the Journal de Saint Pétersbourg. It is a rather incomplete story. Baron Gostovsky’s head was removed but his son Robert dug up the body just to make sure that nothing was amiss. He was given fifteen days for violating the rest of the dead. There is not mention of a body being turned over, let alone the head being thrown into the woods. We also learn that the baron had held important positions and had travelled widely.

    Le Journal de Saint-Pétersbourg raconte un fait vraiment extraordinaire, pour l’époque où nous sommes. Récemment, mourait à Sabouez, près de Dantzig, un grand le propriétaire, baron de Gostvosky. Se sentant près de sa fin, il fit appeler son fils aîné et lui dit qu’il avait un secret à lui révéler. Mon enfant, fit-il, je me meurs. Quand j’aurai rendu le dernier soupir prenez soin de me couper la tête, avant de m’enterrer. Nous sommes une famille de vampires, et, à moins qu’on ne prenne cette précaution, nous ne trouvons pas de repos dans la tombe. Il raconta alors qu’il avait coupé ainsi la tête de sa mère, et il fit jurer à son fils de lui obéir. Quand le baron Gostovsky fut mort, on obéit à sa volonté. Quelques jours après, le fils, par une curiosité pleine d’angoisse, fit exhumer le corps, pour constater qu’il ne s’était pas produit de phénomène anormal. Notez que ce baron de Gostovsky n’était pas un hobereau ignorant. Il avait voyagé, il avait occupé, dans son pays, des situations considérables. L’instruction n’avait pas triomphé chez lui, cependant, de ces préjugés, légués par des traditions de famille inexplicables. Les tribunaux se sont occupés de l’affaire, et le fils du baron a été condamné à quinze jours de prison, pour violation de sépulture

    Here meanwhile is a modern commentary that adds little, but, for the sake of completeness.

    As late as in 1886,  the Lithuanian landowner Robert von Gostovski dug out his deceased father in order to fulfill the latter’s last will and threw his severed head into the bushes surrounding the graveyard. The court sentenced the son ‘due to lack of understanding of his guilt” not for desecration, but only for ‘mischief.’

    The picture at the head of the post is just a reminder that there is a long history of vampire burials: this from medieval Poland. Anything else on the good baron? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com