In a remarkable turn of events, the mysterious tale of Stoneman Willie, a mummified man, is reaching its poignant conclusion after 128 years on display at Auman’s Funeral Home in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Stoneman Willie, as he came to be known, met his end in 1895 due to kidney failure while incarcerated at Berks County Prison on petty theft charges. His true identity remained a secret until recently. In an unusual twist, Stoneman Willie’s real name was uncovered, ending decades of speculation.
The enigmatic figure’s journey began when, upon his death, a local mortician, experimenting with new embalming techniques, accidentally mummified him. Stoneman Willie’s body, remarkably well-preserved with intact teeth and hair, acquired an iconic status in Reading. Despite his anonymity, he became a cherished part of the town’s history.
For years, he was a subject of intrigue and fascination, with various attempts to unveil his identity proving futile. Authorities, unable to identify him, allowed Auman’s Funeral Home to keep his body for monitoring the effects of the unique embalming method.
In 2023, the mystery surrounding Stoneman Willie was finally resolved. His real name was discovered through meticulous research into historical documents. As Reading celebrated its 275th anniversary, Stoneman Willie’s hearse was a poignant part of the parade, allowing the community one last glimpse of their hometown hero.
“He has just become such an icon, such a storied part of not only Reading’s past but certainly its present,” remarked Kyle Blankenbiller, funeral director at Auman’s Funeral Home, reflecting on Stoneman Willie’s enduring legacy.
As the town prepares to bid farewell, Stoneman Willie’s real name will be revealed on his headstone, marking the end of a captivating chapter in Reading’s history. His story, one of mystery, compassion, and community, will be etched into the annals of the town’s folklore, ensuring that Stoneman Willie’s memory lives on for generations to come.
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