- The man was a petty thief who gave a false name when he was arrested in 1895
- He died in jail due to kidney disease that was brought on by alcohol
- READ MORE: ‘Virtual autopsy’ reveals 17th-century mummy was a child
America’s oldest mummy, on display inside a Pennsylvania funeral home for 128 years, is set to receive a proper burial.
The man is only known as ‘Stoneman Willie,’ an alcoholic who died of kidney failure in a local jail on November 19, 1895, and was accidentally mummified by a mortician experimenting with new embalming techniques.
The man’s true identity is unknown because he gave a fake name when he was arrested more than a century ago for pickpocketing.
His body will receive its final rites and be carried by a procession to the nearby Forest Hills Memorial Park for burial on October 7.
The man only known as ‘Stoneman Willie’ has been on display in a Pennsylvania since he died in 1895
His hair and teeth remain intact, and his skin has become leathery
The gaunt man dons a black suit and bowtie as he lays inside a coffin in the funeral home. His hair and teeth remain intact, and his skin has become leathery.
The Auman’s Funeral Home said it has now identified Stoneman Willie using historical documents and will reveal his name later this week when they lay the body to rest.
Until now, not much was known about him beyond his Irish roots.
‘We don’t refer to him as a mummy. We refer to him as our friend Willie,’ said Kyle Blankenbiller, funeral director.
‘He has just become such an icon, such a storied part of not only Reading’s past but certainly its present.’
The man’s true identity is unknown because he gave a fake name when he was arrested more than a century ago for pickpocketing
He was accidentally mummified by a mortician experimenting with new embalming techniques
Historical documents show that Stoneman Willie was preserved by Theodor Auman, a mortician experimenting with innovative arterial embalming – a technique still relatively new in the late 19th century.
Before this, corpses were stored on ice until the burial.
The process entails injecting the embalming fluid into an artery, which displaces the blood, and a drain tube facilitates the ejection of blood from the vein.
Local historian George M. Meiser XI told The Washington Post that Auman mixed his own recipe that was overrun with formalin, a chemical used in the embalming process.
And the excessive amount petrified the man’s body.
The gaunt man dons a black suit and bowtie as he lays inside a coffin in the funeral home
His body will receive its final rites and be carried by a procession to the nearby Forest Hills Memorial Park for burial on October 7
Stoneman Willie gave the false name of James Penn when he was arrested after being found inside a local boardinghouse with a gold watch, razer and money in his hands – all of which he had stolen.
The 37-year-old died after battling gastritis, which worsened into acute uremia or end-stage kidney disease.
Historical documents have identified Stoneman Willie’s real name, which will be inscribed at the bottom of his tombstone when his body is buried this weekend.