Mad Anthony Wayne's bone boiling kettle.

Mad Anthony Wayne's Kettle of Death

Field review by the editors.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie still goes ga-ga over Mad Anthony Wayne, the post-Revolutionary War hero who died here after fighting Indians in Ohio. Mad Anthony was buried in Erie, but 13 years later his daughter asked that his bones be dug up and brought to the family burial plot in Radnor, Pennsylvania, some 400 miles away. The gravediggers, however, encountered a setback: Mad Anthony hadn't decomposed! At a loss for what to do, Erie hacked up Mad Anthony and boiled the flesh off of him in a big pot, then sent the bones east to Radnor.

The boiling cauldron is now a favorite exhibit at the Erie County History Center. It's displayed with cartoon-like "bones" floating in it and wood piled beneath, illuminated by a fake fire. A period illustration placed next to the pot shows a cadaver-like Wayne sitting in his Chair of Death (which is also displayed).

Other memorable exhibits at the Center include "Washington's Teeth" (a set of generic lead dentures) and a wax dummy of Henry Francisco, "the first man hanged under civil law in Erie County." Henry is displayed with a noose.

Mad Anthony was apparently unhappy about being posthumously chopped up and boiled. Sighting of his ghost have been reported on January 1 (his birthday), wandering along US 322, apparently trying to get to Radnor to get his bones back.

Mad Anthony Wayne's Kettle of Death

Erie County History Center

419 State St., Erie, PA
Erie County History Center. Downtown. Take I-79 north until it ends, then continue another two miles on Bayfront Parkway. Turn right onto State St. On State St. between 4th and 5th Sts, on the east side.
W-Sa 11 am - 5 pm. (Call to verify)
RA Rates:
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