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Spotlight > Stories and Legends > The Man Buried in Two Places

The Man Buried in Two Places

Published by Anonymous on 2007/7/10 (785 reads)
Strange enough title for an article, eh? I'll get to that shortly... it's a bit gruesome, so carry on at your own risk.

Over the years of researching Chester County genealogy, I have come across many interesting tales, most of which have some background of truth. The one I'm about to relate first came to my attention years ago as a legend that spoke of General Wayne's ghost riding around on dark evenings. I didn't pay much attention as nearly every famous person has strange legends attached to their history. In this particular case, though, the legend may have had a more substantial base than most.

I had become a bit more interested in General Wayne as a result of discovering that his daughter Margaretta married William Richardson Atlee, the brother of Isaac Richardson Atlee, the founder of the small Carroll County, Maryland town in which I live. Isaac himself had married into a Chester County family as well as his wife was Mary Clemson. So, now, suddenly, the General had a connection a bit closer to home for me and I started looking into his history.

"Mad Anthony" Wayne's military history is the stuff of legends, but I'll let you do your own research there if you want to know more - it is what happened after he died that becomes rather bizarre.

In November of 1796, while stationed in the area of Erie, PA, Wayne fell ill with gout and eventually died in mid-December (there are several different dates mentioned for his actual death date). At his request, he was buried at the base of the flag pole at the fort. So far so good.

Moving forward thirteen years to 1809, Wayne's daughter Margaretta is quite ill herself (she died the following year and was buried at St. David's) and makes a request of her brother Isaac to bring their father's remains back to the family burial plot at St. David's in Radnor. No doubt expecting his father's body to be fairly decomposed after thirteen years, Isaac makes the trip in a light wagon, however things did not turn out quite as planned.

Isaac arrives at Erie and enlists help from a doctor, and possibly several other people, in exhuming the body of Anthony. Despite the passage of thirteen years, the general's body was nearly perfectly preserved and it was quite obvious that Isaac's small wagon would not be large enough to carry the body back to Eastern PA. At this point, the story takes a decidedly odd twist.

It is decided to send only the bones back East with Isaac. This is accomplished by cutting the body of the general into pieces and literally boiling the flesh away from the bones! (Sorry, but I did warn you!). The question arises of whether or not Isaac knew about the entire process or was simply presented with the bones after the fact, but it is known that the flesh itself along with the instruments used were re-interred in the gravesite by the flagpole in Erie.

Burial number two took place at St. David's in Radnor when Isaac returned, an event attended by a large number of dignitaries of the area.

Considering the entire story, it is certainly easy to see how the legend of General Wayne's ghost grew - that would be one mighty confused spirit, I would think!
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