America's oldest mummy, 'Stoneman Willie', to be buried

Wednesday 4 October 2023

America's oldest mummy known only as 'Stoneman Willie' has been on display for over 120 years.

A corpse on display for 128 years at a morticians in the US state of Pennsylvania is set to receive a full burial.

The deceased male was accidentally mummified on November 19 1895 as a result of experimentation with new embalming techniques.

The body will receive final rites and be carried by a procession to the nearby Forest Hills Memorial Park for burial on October 7.

Director of Auman's Funeral Home, where Stoneman Willie has been housed for the past century, Kyle Blankenbiller, told local press of how the mummy has become an "icon" for the community in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Mr Blankenbiller said: "'We don't refer to him as a mummy. We refer to him as our friend Willie.

"He has just become such an icon, such a storied part of not only Reading's past but certainly its present."

Credit: Reuters

Although Stoneman Willie's true identity remains a mystery, it is known that he died of kidney failure whilst serving time in prison.

The man was an alcoholic when he died, with these excesses being the most likely cause of the 37-year-old's premature demise.

Uncovered documents of the original autopsy conducted on Stoneman Willie gave a cause of death of acute uremia, a condition typically associated with habitual alcohol consumption.

Stoneman Willie's identity continues to evade local historians because he provided a false name at the moment of his arrest.

Records show that police arrested the now mummified man after he was caught red-handed in a boarding house with a stolen gold watch in his possession.

The alias the man gave to law enforcement was James Penn.

Stoneman Willie was preserved via a process called innovative arterial embalming, a technique relatively new in the late 19th century.

His embalmer, a Mr Theodor Auman, injected too much preservative fluid into corpse in his attempts to master the new procedure.

This accidentally caused the nameless man's body to become mummified over time.

Whilst interred in the morticians, the gaunt mummy was dressed by generations of funeral directors in a black suit and bowtie.

The oddity attracted many visitors over its more than a century on display.

Local historians have said that they have successfully identified Stoneman Willie.

His real name will be inscribed in tribute at the bottom of his tombstone when the body is finally buried this weekend.

Watch Jeremy Kyle and Nicola Thorp on TalkTV’s brand new breakfast show, TalkToday.

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