I've been digging deep into various Massachusetts town histories - Its more research, as ever, but I promise I'm working on Arkham Gazette related topics! :) - and I spotted a reference to the sort of folk-magic employed against consumption, closely tied to the sorts of New England "vampire" cases covered by Michael E. Bell in his "Food of the Dead", a topic I'll eventually cover in some depth.  While no supernatural menace is cited in this rather vague account, the jump from magical cure to unnatural evil is a short one.  I will note that while Bell doesn't include this incident (perhaps because it is so vague) in that book, he mentions it in some other related articles...

Here's the reference from 'The History of Harvard, Massachusetts, 1732-1893':

"When that fell destroyer, consumption, broke into a family circle and began to bear away its victims in slow but sure succession, humiliating the most self-confident physicians with a sense of their impotence, there often came to light a strange delusion — the vulgar belief that if the heart of one who had died with that disease were burned, and the members of the household inhaled the fumes from it, they would escape the doom hanging over them.

There is a well-attested tradition that about a century ago, in a consumptive-stricken family of Harvard already bereft of eight or more of its youth, a dying girl exacted from friends a solemn promise that her heart should be consumed for the benefit of her sisters, and her last wish was duly carried out. One of these sisters at least survived to acknowledge to her inquisitive grand-daughter, who heard this tradition, that the story was essentially true."

(There's also a ghost story in the same book but I shall save that for another time...)
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