128-year-old mummy in Pennsylvania to get proper burial


Posted at Oct 02 2023 12:08 PM

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For 128 years, one of the U.S.'s oldest mummies has been on display at a local funeral home in the small city of Reading, Pennsylvania. But that will soon change, as the funeral home prepares a proper send-off and burial for the unidentified man, known by locals as Stoneman Willie.

Since his death on November 19, 1895, Auman's Funeral Home has displayed the remains of a petty thief and known alcoholic who died of kidney failure in a local jail and was accidentally mummified by a mortician experimenting with new embalming techniques.

Because he gave authorities a fictitious name upon his arrest, Stoneman Willie's true identity remained hidden and local officials were unable to locate relatives. The funeral home, that had initially tried to embalm him while they searched for a next of kin, eventually petitioned the state for permission to keep the body instead of burying it, saying they wanted to monitor the experimental embalming process.

Over 100 years later and with advances in technology, the funeral home says it finally believes it has identified Stoneman Willie, and will reveal his name graveside later this week. But first, it has joined with the city of Reading to memorialize the man who has been part of the city's folklore and folksy identity for generations.

On Sunday (October 1), local residents filed onto the streets to celebrate the 275th anniversary of Reading's charter with a colorful parade that included a motorcycle hearse carrying Willie's casket.

All this week, Willie will be on display for final good-byes from the public at Auman's Funeral Home. On Saturday (October 7), he will make his final journey through the streets of Reading and will be buried at a local cemetery, where his real name will finally be inscribed on his tombstone.

(Production: Greg Savoy, Kia Johnson, Arlene Eiras)