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Reading, Pennsylvania: Grave of Stoneman Willie

Stoneman Willie (real name: James Murphy) was embalmed in 1895 and remained on display in a Reading funeral home until he was buried with much hoopla on October 7, 2023. His black tombstone is engraved with both of his names.

Forest Hills Memorial Park

390 W. Neversink Rd, Reading, PA
Forest Hills Memorial Park. Southeast edge of the city. From US-422 BUS turn south (no stoplight) onto W. Neversink Rd and drive one mile to the cemetery, on the right. Ask for directions at the office to the grave.
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Visitor Tips and News About Grave of Stoneman Willie

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

Stone Willie - Funeral Home Dead Guy

In 1962, when I was attending Bryland Institute of Beauty on Pennsylvania Street, our class went to see Stone Willie. The one fact [an earlier tip had] wrong was about the nails and hair growing -- we went to prove that nails and hair stop growing once you're dead.

Willie was hard as stone, therefore the name. The funeral home said he was given too much embalming fluid, which made him turn to stone.

[Lscalfie, 07/05/2019]

That's out kind of class trip.

Stone Man Willie

[RA: Ken MacKenzie sent a lengthy account of his encounter with Stone Man Willie in 1973. Here are a few highlights.]

"We were taken at that time to the basement of the funeral home, where Willie was stored... my recollection was that he was temporarily in the basement on a bench, and covered with what appeared to be a blue bedspread... I even tapped on his arm to see how hard he was, and I was able to rap my fingers on him as I can on a countertop... Willie is as hard as a rock; all organs are intact and embalmed with the rest of him.

Willie was apparently the town drunk... One night as it goes, Willie was particularly despondent, and hung himself in jail. No one, including the sheriff, knew Willie's last name... there was a bit of a problem trying to keep Willie 'preserved' until next of kin could be located. The sheriff was aware of Mr. Auman Sr.'s experiments with embalming fluids, and asked him if he could somehow preserve Willie for an extended period of time.

Mr. Auman wrote a letter to the then-governor of Pennsylvania to ask permission to keep Willie indefinitely as he had no next of kin, and as Auman was interested in seeing just how long his embalming would last... Willie is kept by the Auman Funeral Home, or at least was at the time of my visit, under the original letter of permission from the then-governor of Pennsylvania. It was my understanding at the time from Mr. Auman III that they still had the original letter from the governor granting his funeral home that permission on a very open-ended basis."

[Ken MacKenzie, 05/30/2014]
Stone "Man" Willy - Death Bed Revelation!

My understanding is that Stone "Man" Willy was a prisoner...used for an experimmental embalming process. The result was, as revealed because of a unique preservation process, an ongoing growth of both hair and fingernails. The discoloration of skin was attributed to a moisture reduction due to his death.

Oddly, everyone who has heard and retold this mystery has had not one photo and continuously reports of his known existence to be in a different area of the funeral home. My true statement is a result of an undisclosed and private source who is in fact a mortician that found a need to reveal this story 3 hours before he too passed, stating this is why he'd rather be cremated. Go figure.

[Johnny Howresko, 06/07/2011]
Stone Man Willie - Vague Recollections

My mom used to tell me about Stone Man Willie when I was growing up. When she was a teen her and friends used to go visit him (when he was on a slab in the basement).

About 15 years ago we went to go see him. At the time when we called the funeral home said that not to many people called and/or knew about him. When I went to see him he was in the casket upstairs. They asked us not to take any pictures and we didn't (not sure why you would want a pic of this anyway, kind of creepy). He was a brown color and at the time they said they had to remember to keep the shades down or the casket shut because he was getting sort of a tan from the sunlight.

I'm not sure why the funeral home continues to keep him if they don't want people seeing him. They should hand him over to the Reading Museum.

[Kristy, 09/19/2009]
Stone Willy

I saw the comments about Stone Willy at the Auman Funeral Home. I was just there, and they showed me Willy. He's in a casket (not laid out on a slab), and on the top floor of the building in a back room. The stories are true -- there really is a Stone Willy.

[Paul Schwartz, 03/18/2009]

You were very fortunate, Paul! We talked with Gary Doubble at the funeral home, and he told us that requests to see Willie are usually turned down.

Nearby Offbeat Places

The PagodaThe Pagoda, Reading, PA - 2 mi.
Anchor from the U.S.S. MaineAnchor from the U.S.S. Maine, Reading, PA - 2 mi.
Giant PretzelGiant Pretzel, Shillington, PA - 5 mi.
In the region:
Toy Robot Museum, Adamstown, PA - 11 mi.

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