The Defiance County Genealogical Society met Oct. 28 when Frank Butwin, depicting Gen. Anthony Wayne, gave a PowerPoint program on the life of the general.
Born in 1745 in Easton, Pa., Wayne’s interest in military strategy began early while still a youngster as he liked to command mock battles at recess with other boys. He was educated as a surveyor at his uncle’s private academy in Philadelphia where he met Benjamin Franklin, who later sent him and some associates to work for a year surveying land granted in Nova Scotia.
In 1767, Wayne married Mary Penrose and returned to work in his father’s tannery, while also continuing work as a surveyor. Later he held county offices and served in the Pennsylvania legislature.
He adopted a military career at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, where his military exploits, his boldness, and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general in February 1777 and the nickname “Mad Anthony.” In other circles he also was called “Dandy Tony” sometimes because he liked dancing with pretty women at formal parties.
Wayne led many battles throughout the Revolutionary War. He was present at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78. In 1780, he stopped Benedict Arnold’s treasonous plan to surrender West Point to the British military by safeguarding the fort.
After the war, Wayne returned to Pennsylvania and served in the state legislature for a year, then moved to Georgia and settled upon the tract of land that had been granted to him for his military service. He was a delegate to the state convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.
President George Washington recalled Wayne from civilian life in order to lead an expedition in the Northwest Indian War. During that time he was instrumental in building several forts in the Ohio country, including Fort Defiance and Fort Wayne.
In 1794, a tree fell onto Wayne’s tent, knocking him unconscious, but he survived to be able to resume the march to the newly built Fort Defiance. Two weeks later, he mounted an assault on the Indian confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Maumee. This decisive victory ended the war.
He was then among those who negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy and the United States which opened up the Northwest Territory and Louisiana Purchase. The treaty gave most of Ohio to the United States and cleared the way for the state to enter the Union in 1803.
Gen. Wayne died of complications from gout in 1796 during a return trip to Pennsylvania from a military post in Detroit. He was buried at Fort Presque Isle, now Erie, Pa., where the modern Wayne Blockhouse stands.
His son, Isaac, disinterred Wayne’s body in 1809 and had the corpse boiled so as to remove the surviving flesh from the bones. He then placed the bones into a bone carrier and relocated them to the family plot in the graveyard of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Wayne, Pa. The other remains such as the soup, uniform, knives, etc. were reburied in his coffin but rediscovered in 1878, giving General Wayne two known grave sites. A legend says that many bones were lost along the roadway which encompasses much of U.S. Route 322, and that his ghost wanders the highway on Jan. 1 searching for his lost bones.
Following Frank Butwin’s program, First Families chairman Mary Scranton awarded Nancy Robinson and Sue Hepworth membership pins and certificates into the First Families of Defiance County. Nancy and Sue are both residents of California, but traced their ancestors to Defiance County before 1860.
Because this also made them eligible to become Centennial Family Members, Centennial chairman Carol Ehlinger presented them with those certificates. The names of Pat Wise’s grandchildren also were added to her First Families lineage.
A reception followed the meeting celebrating the new First Families and Centennial members.
Meetings are held at St. John United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St., Defiance. The church is located on the northeastern corner of the Defiance College campus. Entry is on the north side from the church parking lot adjacent to the college gymnasium. Visitors are welcome.