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. Sightings of his ghost have been reported on January 1st (his birthday), wandering along US 322, apparently trying to persuade Radnor to give his bones back.

Mad Anthony Wayne's Kettle of Death

Erie County History Center

356 W. 6th St., Erie, PA
Erie County History Center. Just west of downtown. In the old Watson-Curtze Mansion (it looks a little like a castle), on the north side of W. 6th St. just east of its intersection with Chestnut St.
Th-Su 11-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $7.50
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
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