The Blockhouse.

Where Mad Anthony Wayne Died

Field review by the editors.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Mad Anthony Wayne was a successful Revolutionary War general, and he was equally successful at killing Indians in Ohio after the war. But on his way back to civilization on December 15, 1796, Mad Anthony unexpectedly fell ill and died in a chair. He was buried, and then 13 years later he was dug up, hacked apart, and boiled in a pot. His flesh was then reburied in its original grave, under the flagpole outside the blockhouse in which he died.

Mad Anthony's success at killing Indians made the blockhouse unnecessary. A fire destroyed it around 1830, and people forgot about Mad Anthony Wayne. When his remains were accidentally dug up again in 1879, Erie decided to rebuild the blockhouse as a memorial to their mad general.

The general's mannequin in repose.

It's now a popular destination for school kids, although it isn't easy to visit. You have to get a key -- from a guard at the nearby Soldiers and Sailors Home -- to unlock a padlock to let yourself in, and then you have to force in the heavy door with a bit of shoulder muscle. And you should visit on a sunny day, or bring a flashlight, as the lights don't work.

The blockhouse has two floors, and both are fairly empty. Mad Anthony's original tombstone is in the shadows behind the stairs on the ground floor. Upstairs is a dummy of the general, lying on a cot, with an upended keg holding a bottle of whiskey next to his head. Mad Anthony is crowned with an Andy Warhol-style white wig and a tricorn hat, which can't possibly stay put on all that hair. It had fallen to the floor and we courteously placed it back, although it probably fell off again when we heaved the door shut on our way out.

The original tomb of Mad Anthony Wayne.

A tip from one visitor claimed that the tools used to hack apart Mad Anthony were on display in the blockhouse. But all that we could find was some janitor equipment down by the tombstone. It's more likely that the other story is true -- that the tools were tossed into the grave with the re-interred, now-stewed remains of Mad A. back in 1809.

Also see: Mad Anthony Wayne Cauldron

Where Mad Anthony Wayne Died

Soldiers' and Sailors' Home

Address:
Ash St., Erie, PA
Directions:
Soldiers' and Sailors' Home. Downtown. Take I-79 north until it ends, then continue another two miles on Bayfront Parkway. Turn right onto State St. In five blocks turn left onto 6th St. In six blocks turn left onto Ash St. In three blocks Ash St. ends; turn right into the Soldiers and Sailors home. Drive to the large, main building and ask the security guard for directions and the key to the Blockhouse.
Phone:
814-871-4531
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