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Man who was Accidentally Mummified to be Buried

“Stone man Willie” is the nickname a 128-year old corpse in Pennsylvania acquired over the centuries. He was an alleged petty thief whose body was accidentally mummified by an experimental mortician in 1895. Willie is set to receive his long-overdue final rites and burial after a staggering century.


Even in his final moments on earth, Stoneman Willie adamantly refused to disclose his real name. He passed away in November 1895, due to alleged Kidney failure. Theodor Auman, a mortician experimenting with an innovative arterial embalming technique, accidentally preserved Willie’s body shortly after death. This experimental preservation method was a deviation from the norm of storing corpses on ice. Fortunately, or not, it turned out to be highly effective, albeit unconventional.

Stoneman Willie: Man who was accidentally mummified 128 years ago.
Stoneman Willie: Man who was accidentally mummified 128 years ago. Photo| Reuters


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The embalming technique left Willie’s body accidentally mummified, displaying an almost frightened appearance. Despite the weirdness, the body became a local curiosity. It was put on display at the Theo C. Auman Funeral Home in Reading, Pennsylvania. Over the years, the mummy gained local notoriety and earned the affectionate nickname “our friend Willie.”

For over a century, Willie’s true identity remained shrouded in mystery. At the time of his death, he was a 37-year-old man accused of theft. It is said he refused to unveil his true identity to protect his family from disgrace. Local newspapers reported that he had been previously charged with drunkenness and provided a false name when arrested.

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George M. Meiser XI, a local historian, shed light on Willie’s story. Meiser revealed that the body likely belonged to an alleged thief who used the alias James Penn when arrested for theft. He battled with addiction and died in a state of delirium and acute illness. Still refusing to disclose his real identity to spare his family from shame.

Now, after 128 years, Stoneman Willie will receive the burial he deserves. The procession will carry his body to the nearby Forest Hills Memorial Park. There, he will be dressed in a tuxedo befitting the style of a gentleman from 1895. It marks the end of a peculiar vigil, bringing closure to a mysterious chapter in the city’s history.

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As the casket closes on Stoneman Willie, further reports indicate that the funeral home has discovered his true identity. Stoneman Willie’s real name will be revealed on his tombstone.


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