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well, i'm not so sure i follow this logic since it paints early generations as just plain stupid, but still:

Before anyone understood the process of decomposition, it was believed that any corpse that became bloated, showed blood at the mouth, grew long hair and nails, "moved" or had a ruddy complexion was a vampire. It was popular to exhume bodies to make sure the dead stayed dead. When a corpse was believed to a vampire, the exhumers would take a stake made of ash, hawthorn, or maple and pound it into the corpse. Then the head would be cut off. At this point, one had several options. The decapitated body could be burned, its ashes spread to the winds, or the corpse could be buried on the opposite side of stream. If the stake and cut measures didn't work, the moving water would stop it. At least for the people who lived on the right side of the stream...