“Stoneman Willie” : The Mummified Celebrity Corpse Of Reading, Pennsylvania

For those of us that are entertained by the macabre, a character that has gained quite a bit of attention over the past week is “Stoneman Willie”. Now, you may be wondering what would be so grim about Willie. Well, Stoneman Willie is the mummified (officially unofficial) celebrity corpse of Reading, Pennsylvania.

During the 1800’s, Willie entered Berks County Prison on petty theft charges. When arrested, he lied and told the police that his name was “James Penn”. While in prison, Willie became fatally ill due to overuse of alcohol. Not long before his death, Willie revealed to the prison doctor that his name wasn’t actually James Penn. However, he would never reveal his true identity. His supposed reasoning for initially providing police with a fake name was to spare the reputation of his brother and sister. Stoneman Willie died on November 19, 1895 from kidney failure.

There were several leads provided about Willie’s true identity during the months following his death, but none of them proved to be true. Authorities were unable to find any family members and eventually released Willie’s body to Auman’s Funeral Home in Reading, Pennsylvania to be cared for.

In attempts to test out new embalming techniques, Auman’s Funeral Home accidentally mummified the body of Stoneman Willie. Naturally, morticians at the funeral home were eager to monitor the results of their embalming efforts. So, Pennsylvania authorities gave Auman’s Funeral Home permission to keep Willie’s body at their establishment instead of burying it.

The mummified corpse of Stoneman Willie has remained in the care of and on display at Auman’s Funeral Home for over 100 years. His skin has a hard, leathery appearance – and his hair and teeth are still intact. Over the years, Willie has become an iconic figure for people living in the communities of Berks County, Pennsylvania. They don’t view Willie, his apparent condition or his situation as morbid. They embrace it.

Earlier this year, Auman’s Funeral Home announced that Stoneman Willie’s true identity had been discovered after some timely and thorough investigating of historical documents had been performed. With Willie’s identity known, the funeral home will finally lay him to rest in a cemetery.

Fans of Stoneman Willie are currently able to honor him one last time (until tomorrow, October 6, 2023) at Auman’s Funeral Home, freshly dressed in 19th century attire. Willie’s actual name will be publicly announced during his burial and inscribed on his headstone. Stoneman Willie will be officially laid to rest on October 7th, 2023.