Erie Soldiers and Sailors Home Cemetery

As a young man, I was a member of the Communications Platoon, HQ Company of the 1/112th Infantry Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Our armory was on the corner of 6th and Parade streets in Erie, about three blocks south and three blocks west of the Soldiers and Sailors Home.

As part of our training, we’d occasionally put a radio in a jeep in the motor pool and put a second one in a jeep and drive over to the Wayne Blockhouse, built to honor Maj. Gen “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who died in Erie in 1796, on the grounds of the Erie Soldiers and Sailors Home. To get there we would have to drive around the building, cross a set of railroad tracks, and drive along the cemetery, up to the blockhouse and set up our tests.

In recent years, a new bridge was built over the railroad tracks leading directly to the Wayne Blockhouse, eliminating the traffic passing along the side of the cemetery. Once you cross the bridge, you need to make a right and head down the dead end to the gate of the cemetery.

Entrance of the Erie Soldiers and Sailors Home cemetery. (Terry Rensel)

In my more frequent visits to Erie to see family in recent years, I have started visiting historic sites that I may have missed in my youth and revisiting sites with which I am familiar. On a recent trip, I visited the cemetery. It sits on four acres, behind the home, between the seldom used railroad tracks that used to run to the docks, and the Bayfront Parkway.

The morning was cold and grey as I headed into town. By the time I got to the cemetery, the skies had become mostly sunny, with high white clouds. Located next to what was originally a monument to Union soldiers, and now honors veterans of all our conflicts, is a bench where I sat and quietly contemplated the service of the approximately 1,300 men and women who are buried there. Even though a very busy road, with cars zipping by at 35-40 miles per hour was just on the other side of the trees, the sound of the traffic died away and I couldn’t hear it, After sitting for a few minutes, I slowly made my way around, looking at the graves of veterans from the Civil War all the way up through the most recent interments made earlier this year.

Erie Soldiers and Sailors Home Memorial to the Dead. (Terry Rensel)

The Pennsylvania Soldiers and Sailors Home in Erie opened its doors in 1886. That same year they also interred the first veteran in the cemetery that they maintain on the grounds. The Erie home is the oldest of the six veteran homes that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania runs. The cemetery is the commonwealth’s only state cemetery and is maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The home, and cemetery, is located at 3rd and Ash streets in Erie. The cemetery and grounds are open to the public.

2 Responses to Erie Soldiers and Sailors Home Cemetery

  1. THANKS, great info. I grew up just across the Ohio state line. While interested in history, I only knew about Anthony Wayne and the USS Niagara. I never knew that Strong Vincent High School was named in honor of someone!

  2. Nice article on Erie cmty. Looks very interesting. I spend my summers nearby at Chautauqua Institution, NY, so I’m going to head over there today! Thanks for pointing it out.

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