LifestyleNobody claimed the body for 128 years. It finally comes to a funeral

Nobody claimed the body for 128 years. It finally comes to a funeral

Stoneman Willie spent 128 years in the funeral home.
Stoneman Willie spent 128 years in the funeral home.
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ed. MSI

7:39 AM EDT, October 5, 2023, updated: 8:53 AM EDT, October 5, 2023

A funeral home in Pennsylvania decided to bury a man who died in 1895 and was mummified as part of an experiment. He spent 128 years there as a mummy.

The mummified man was named "Stoneman Willie". He was given this nickname because he refused to provide his real name during the illness he died from in November of 1895. Since then, his body has lain in a funeral home in Reading, Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, October 7, his body will undergo the final funeral rites and will be transferred in procession to the nearby Forest Hills Memorial Park, where he will be buried.

The owners of the funeral home have been trying for years to ensure him a dignified burial. Therefore, the body will be dressed in a tuxedo reminiscent of what a gentleman would have worn at a burial in 1895.

The body was mummified as part of an experiment

Local historian George M. Meiser XI claims that the man's body was preserved by Theodor Auman, a funeral director who was experimenting at that time with an innovative method of arterial embalming.

The technique he used was relatively new. At that time, bodies were stored in ice until the time of burial.

- There was no universal recipe for preserving the body, so Auman prepared his own. He went a bit overboard with the formalin, which resulted in the body becoming paralyzed - Meiser said in an interview with CNN.

No one claimed the body, so Auman kept it to evaluate the effectiveness of his experimental techniques. The body lasted at the funeral home for 128 years and gained the status of a cultural curio. Over the years, curious individuals would come to see the "mummy" from Pennsylvania.

The body probably belonged to a local petty thief

For over a hundred years, Willie's true identity had been shrouded in mystery. At the time of his death, local newspapers reported that a mustached 37-year-old, accused of theft and drunkenness, refused to reveal his true identity to avoid disgracing his family.

According to Meiser, the body belonged to the alleged thief, who was then using the false name James Penn.

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