Home Top Stories Pennsylvania mummy known as ‘Stoneman Willie’ now has his name back, 128 years after his death

Pennsylvania mummy known as ‘Stoneman Willie’ now has his name back, 128 years after his death

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Pennsylvania mummy known as ‘Stoneman Willie’ now has his name back, 128 years after his death

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A Pennsylvanian man who was inadvertently mummified in the late 19th century now has his name back, 128 years after his death, when he was finally buried. 

“We are proud to announce that on this hallowed ground will lie the immortal soul of Stoneman Willie, otherwise known as Mr. James Murphy,” said representatives from Auman’s Funeral Home at Murphy’s burial on Oct. 7 in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“Rest in peace, James,” the group said in a video posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) by local media outlet WFMZ.

Murphy had been known in death as “Stoneman Willie.” His body had been on display at a funeral home in Reading.

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At the time of his death on Nov. 19, 1895, Murphy was an alcoholic who purportedly died from kidney failure at Berks County Prison on petty theft charges.

When he was arrested, Murphy gave his name as “James Penn,” said the website Berks Nostalgia. 

People at Stoneman Willie's burial; tombstone reading 'stoneman willie' and 'james murphy'

The true identity of “Stoneman Willie” was revealed as James Murphy during his burial on Oct. 7 in Reading, Pennsylvania. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

As he neared death, Murphy revealed to the prison doctor that his name was not actually James Penn — and that he had provided a fake name in order to spare his brother’s and sister’s reputations, said Berks Nostalgia.

Several leads on his true identity did not pan out in the months after his death — but it was known that Murphy was of Irish descent

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As authorities did not know the man’s identity at the time, they were unable to find family members to take his body. 

Murphy’s body was released to Auman’s Funeral Home in Reading, Pennsylvania — where it was accidentally mummified in an attempt to experiment with novel embalming techniques, said Reuters. 

A mummy in a nice suit

“Stoneman Willie” was identified as James Murphy — and finally laid to rest 128 years after his death.  (REUTERS/Kia Johnson)

The funeral home was later given permission by Pennsylvania authorities to keep Murphy’s body, rather than bury it, in order to better study the embalming techniques. 

Over a century later, Murphy remained at Auman’s Funeral Home on display, becoming a macabre local celebrity of sorts and odd tourist attraction. 

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His teeth and hair are intact, said Reuters, and his skin has a hard, leathery appearance. 

He was dressed in a pair of blue pajamas and could be viewed upon request. 

tombstone reading 'Stoneman Willie' and "James Murphy"

The true identity of “Stoneman Willie” was revealed as James Murphy during his burial on Oct. 7 in Reading, Pennsylvania. (WFMZ 69 News)

Earlier in 2023, Auman’s Funeral Home announced that “Stoneman Willie” finally would be laid to rest — and that his real name finally had been discovered through a careful combing of historical documents. 

In a June 1 press conference, Kyle Blankenbiller, funeral director at Auman’s Funeral Home, explained that “Stoneman Willie” would be honored with a final public viewing from Oct. 2-6, and that he would be buried on Oct. 7. 

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In honor of his public viewing, Murphy was re-dressed in 19th century attire, said the website Berks Weekly. 

viewing area of mummy

“Stoneman Willie” finally has his name back, 128 years after his death. (REUTERS/Kia Johnson)

On Oct. 1, a hearse carrying Murphy/Stoneman Willie was part of the Reading’s 275th anniversary parade. 

“It was nice to have our hometown hero and see him one last time,” Mark May of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, said to local media outlet WFMZ.

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May added that the town’s mummy has “just been a celebrity since I can remember.” 

Reuters contributed reporting to this article. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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