A Ghost Story


I’ve never been much interested in ghost stories. In fact, the fascination they bring to others is something of a mystery to me. Of course, that was before I found that I have an ancestor who is a central figure in one.

General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, the third great grandfather of the wife of my grand-uncle was a Revolutionary soldier. He was instrumental in keeping the Northwest Territory a part of the fast developing United States of America.

His ghost story comes as a result of his unfortunate demise. After winning decisive battles in the west and negotiating a treaty with the Indian natives, thus enabling Ohio to join the Union, Mad Anthony Wayne succumbed to an infection brought on by gout. He died at a fort in Erie Pennsylvania. Some thirteen years after his death, his son was sent to reclaim the body and bring it to the family home in Chester County.

Upon exhuming the remains, they were shocked to find the body in a far better condition than expected after spending thirteen years in the ground. Knowing that it would be unwise to try and transport a semi-decomposed body in the small cart they had, they rendered the corpse. This meant they boiled the flesh from the bones, a not uncommon occurrence in those days. They gathered the freshly cleansed bones, poured the rest back into the original burial site and set out for Chester County. But as the legend goes, the bones, being loosely packed, were jostled free along the bumpy journey. The result being that not all the bones made it to the final resting place.

Some locals swear that on every January 1st (Anthony Wayne’s birthday) he rises from his grave in Erie, not at all happy to have been strewn haphazardly throughout the countryside. He reportedly rides along Route 322 leading to Chester County astride his horse Nancy in search of his missing bones.  

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