In Canter County in the mountains of East Tennessee, United States, chair-making brothers Eli and Jacob Odom were famous for their tight-joint, mule-eared, slat-back, hickory-splits, woven seat chairs. Hundreds of their chairs were sold and distributed all over the state between 1 806 and the late 1840s, but a pair of the brothers’ comfy chairs came into the possession of a woman who was a self-proclaimed vampire. She lived in a cabin in the mountains overlooking the Hiwassee River near Charleston, Tennessee (see LIVING VAMPIRE).
Although there are no records of her exploits or of her death, a body alleged to be hers was found in 1917 during the widening of the crossroads near where she was believed to have lived. The body was found buried facedown and fairly well petrified, as there are high levels of minerals in the ground water in that region of the country. Still protruding from her chest was a stake that had been run through her heart. What was most interesting is that the stake was a cradle-lathe support (bottom leg support) for the type of chair that was exclusively made by the much-famed chair-making brothers, Eli and Jacob Odom. It was assumed that the chair that the support came from was looted from the vampire’s home after her death, repaired, and re-entered into the community.
After the discovery of the petrified body, the first report of an attack from the vampire chair began to circulate. Whenever someone sat in the chair, he would be held down by an invisible force that made scratches on the person’s arms. Eventually, these scratches would well up and bleed, and it was not until a drop of blood hit the floor would the assault end. The vampire chair looks exactly like of one of the several hundred similar chairs in the area, meaning that there is no way to tell at a glance which chair is the vampire chair—until it is too late. The chair is believed to still exist because no one wants to be the one who burns or destroys it for fear of intensifying the curse. Reports have placed it in an antique store and at a garage sale, as well as having been on Tusulum College’s campus.
- Barnett, Granny Curse, 3234;
- Burne, Handbook of Folklore, 64 65;
- Masters, Natural History of the Vampire, 140