Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Local residents gave “Willie” a memorable send-off

Around 128 years ago, a petty thief, known to locals as ‘Stoneman Willie’ died of kidney failure in a Pennsylvania jail on November 19, 1895. He was accidentally mummified by a mortician experimenting with a new embalming technique, according to BBC.

Dressed in a suit with a bow tie, the man had been on display at Auman’s Funeral Home in the small city of Reading. His hair and teeth remain intact, and his skin has taken on a leathery appearance.

Before he died he gave authorities a fictitious name upon his arrest, his true identity remains hidden.

According to Reuters, the funeral home had petitioned the state for permission to keep the body instead of burying it to monitor the experimental embalming process.

The funeral home said that they were able to identify the man’s name and will reveal it later this week when they lay the body to rest. There is not much information about him beyond his Irish roots.

“We don’t refer to him as a mummy. We refer to him as our friend Willie,” Kyle Blankenbiller, the funeral director told Reuters. “He has just become such an icon, such a storied part of not only Reading’s past but certainly its present.”

Local residents gave “Willie” a memorable send-off with a colourful parade that included a motorcycle hearse carrying his casket.

Willie will make his final journey on Saturday, October 7 through the streets of Reading. He will be buried at a local cemetery, and at his graveside, the funeral home will reveal his real name. 

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