Strange Case of the Traveling American Mummy

In 1913, a down-on-his-luck one-legged hobo named Anderson McCrew was riding a freight train through Marlin, Texas. Nobody knows for sure exactly what happened; maybe he was hopping off the train to stay a while in Marlin and slipped jumping down or maybe he was leaning out of the empty railroad car feeling the wind in his face and lost his grip, but whatever happened, he was found dead the next day on the tracks with his other leg severed by the train.

His body was taken to a funeral home in Marlin to be preserved until a relative could be found to claim it. Not knowing how long that would take, the undertaker did his job so well that "Andrew" McCrew's body was mummified. It was placed in the window of a local store on the main street through town in the hopes that someone passing through would recognize him. Sadly, nobody ever did.

A year later, a carnival passed through town and since nobody had claimed Andrew's body and nobody had stepped forward to donate the funds for a burial, the carnival owner was allowed to purchase Andrew for the amount owed to the undertaker. For the next 40 years, Andrew, dressed in a moth-eaten tuxedo and sitting in a folding chair, toured all over America. Billed as "The Petrified Man" and the "Eighth Wonder of the World," thousands of people saw him, pointed at him, took pictures of him and talked about him, but nobody laid claim to him.

Eventually the carnival began losing money and had to sell some of its possessions. Andrew and his chair were sold to an individual who kept him in a shed in their back yard. He would be brought into the house occasionally for parties, but he spent most of his time for the next 15 years quietly sitting through the seasons in the shed.

Anderson McCrew's grave
Elgie Pace, a nurse who lived in Dallas, took possession of Andrew when her relative passed away. Thinking the mummy, who she called "Sam," deserved a proper burial, she cleaned away the dust, cobwebs, and bird droppings and stored him in her basement until she could save enough money for the internment. From all accounts, Andrew did just as well in the dark, damp basement as he had everywhere else.

Four years later, Elgie just happened to be passing through Marlin and heard about Andrew. Upon further investigation, it was determined that she, in fact, was indeed in possession of the one-legged, then no-legged hobo Anderson McCrew. The amazing story was printed in a Dallas paper and Frank Lott, a mortuary owner, donated his services so Andrew could finally be buried in 1973, 60 years after his death.

Andrew McCrew's grave marker.

Even then, the strange case of Andrew McCrew didn't end. Don Mclean, the composer and singer who gained fame with his iconic song, American Pie, heard the story and found out that Andrew had finally been buried, but with only a small temporary funeral home plaque to mark his grave. Don wrote a song, "The Legend of Andrew McCrew" Hear the song and donated all of his earnings from it to purchase a proper headstone. Eventually, two stones were purchased, engraved, and placed on Andrew's grave. Even his main headstone is different from the norm as it is inscribed with his year of birth (1867), year of death (1913), and year of burial (1973).

Elgie Pace wrote the words. Don McLean
paid for the stone.
Anderson McCrew, his travels and wait now over, rests peacefully in Dallas' Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. There are no flowers on his grave and he rarely gets visitors. After the life he had after his death, I think he's perfectly fine with that.

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