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Eugene the Petrified Man

Updated on September 16, 2013

Was a Man Really Petrified?

When I was a kid, I lived in Ohio and my Grandparents lived in Sabina, Ohio.

I will always remember my first experience with death and the phone call that came in the early hours of the morning, telling my Father that his Mother had died. Both of my grandparents, in fact, had funerals at Littleton Funeral Home in Sabina.

After meeting the Littletons, my Father told me about "Eugene", the Petrified Man, who had been at Littleton's for many years. I was always intrigued by this story but until recently, didn't do much research about it.

Please follow me, in the Halloween Season, as we explore Eugene.

To keep your interest, I will also throw in some Zombie things throughout!

Have a Ghoul Day and enjoy!'

Photo by Author of this website, tvyps

Eugene The Petrifed Man

The True Story!

The legend of "Eugene the Petrified Man" was born on June 6. 1929. When I say born, it means that Eugene was found dead that day. He was found along the old 3C (22&3) highway, near Borum Road and near Sabina, Ohio.

Eugene, was an unidentified African American man who was 50-60 years old. He had no identification on him but had a piece of paper with a Cincinnati, Ohio address which was later tied to a vacant lot. His cause of death was "Natural Causes", which was on his death certificate that I show later on this site. Eugene got his name by using the same man's name that was questioned, who lived next to the vacant lot.

Eugene wasn't really petrified. He was actually embalmed by the Littleton Funeral Home in Sabina, Ohio. According to a source that I located, an old funeral home staff stated that the reason he was never buried is because he didn't have a death certificate and that they were still trying to locate his relatives.

The police, could not find the relatives and after months, he was sent to Littleton's to be embalmed. When he was embalmed, he was placed outside the funeral home in a brick building and that you could go visit him. His embalming did not petrify him but the fact that his legend states he was petrified was because of the embalming process.

Eugene soon became a legend and people started coming from miles around to see him, many no doubt, taking pictures of him. I contacted Littleton's myself and asked if they had any photos but they told me that they no longer had any. If you have any, please contact me and I would love to put them on this site.

There are estimates that over 1 million visitors came to see Eugene over the approximate 35 years. In addition, his body was stolen as a college prank. On one of the occasions, it was put in a girl's dormitory at Ohio State University. Many stories have been told about Eugene and visits to see him, some, I have put on this site. If you have others, please be sure to include them in our Guestbook!

In 1964, Littleton's Funeral Home decided to put the story to rest. A death certificate was generated and Eugene was laid to rest in the Sabina cemetary. The photo of the headstone is above in the introduction of this website.

Life in a Funeral Home - An Interesting Perspective from a Child who Grew Up in one - Dark and comical, this amusing book includes fun stories and funny photos

Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home
Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home

Reminiscent of the movie "My Girl," this book outlines the life of a young child, growing up in a funeral home in the inner city.

Very dark but very funny.

 

"As a child, I actually saw," Eugene"

Even though I couldn't articulate it, I was both horrified and outraged at the well know, albeit unadvertised, "roadside attraction." - Unknown Visitor

Eugene's Death Certificate

Eugene's Death Certificate
Eugene's Death Certificate

There is some conflict on Eugene's date of death. The gravestone above clearly shows 1928 while the death certificate says 1929. There is controversy and nobody actually knows for sure although most believe he was found in 1928.

"I too remember Eugene! My father took us up to the Sabina area when I was a mere boy. The fact that a human being could lay there for years in that state grabbed my imagination and I carried that with me the rest of my days.

I am glad to know they finally gave him the burial he deserved, but am saddened by the fact he had no one to morn him or remember him." - Danny Alexander

"On occasion my friends and I (the Littleton kids - their parents owned the funeral home) would try and scare the visitors by making scary noises and tap on the window outside in the back of Eugene's house. Also, if I remember correctly, we would have tea parties with Eugene." - Sandi Collins, 2004

Zombies We May Have Seen - Night of the Living Dead!

Night of the Living Dead on Amazon! - Special Low Price!

"For whatever reason, Aunt Allen thought Eugene was important enough that everyone who visited her from out of town needed to make the trip to Sabina. So, come Sunday after church, we'd all be piled into the car and off to Eugene's we would go. I'm sure that Eugene was the first dead person I ever saw but I don't remember being scared or upset by these visits. The adults didn't appear frightened so I must have taken my clue from them. " - Larry Chapman

"We told ghost stories about him, and giggled about him. Then when walking through the dark at night, we were always afraid he might be behind the next tree. When I finally got to see him, his hair and nails were all grown out and his skin was beginning to flake away." - Vicki Unger

More Zombies We May Have Seen! - Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead on Amazon - Special Low Price

"She remembered that Eugene's corpse had cobwebs in it's nose." - Unknown Visitor

"He was stolen and brought to Columbus and stood up against a door. A woman answered the door bell and there he was! Another time he was "borrowed" and taken to Ohio State University and left on a park bench. " Nola Hutchinson - 2004

Ever Heard of Eugene? - If so, I would love to hear from you! Otherwise, please leave a comment about this website!

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      ddsdd47 2 years ago

      When I was about 9 or 10 we traveled from Cincinnati to Zanesville every year for the fair. I remember one year we went with a group on Greyhound bus. The driver talked about a petrified man named Eugene. We stopped there and sure enough, the he was. I touched his hand and it felt like concrete. I never forgot about him all these years (I'm 63 now).

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      Millie Harris 2 years ago

      Both me and my sister and our husbands went to the funeral home in Sabina and paid our respects to Eugene!

    • tvyps profile image
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      Teri Villars 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @maguszoroasterone: That is interesting. i wouldn't mind seeing a photo.

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      maguszoroasterone 3 years ago

      My parents attended Cedarville College in Ohio and both remembered going up to Sabina with friends to see Eugene. Several years ago there was a photo or two of him floating around on the Web. Also, there have been two headstones due to a dating error.

    • Otto Phillips profile image

      Otto Phillips 4 years ago

      I had never heard of Eugene the Petrified Man until reading this Lens. This is a fascinating story.

    • tvyps profile image
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      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @anonymous: Very interesting! I never saw him but my Father did, many times. He was a friend of the Littletons.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      When I was very Young,We would go to My Dad's Cousins house in Willimton....Well,they took us to see "Eugene" I remember well,the long Negro,with the long fingers..several people said "He must have been a Pinao player"....I stopped by there in 1970.wanted my Boys to see "Eugene" but,found out he had been buried..Guess it was time to put Him to rest.

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      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @Lady Lorelei: Eugene was a little lonely this Halloween. Next year, we need to give him his own holiday!

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      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I've stopped by here before but as it is Halloween - well you understand - it's the perfect time to stop by and say hi to the petrified guy lol. Happy Halloween my friend.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      as a wee lad of 7 or 8 visiting relatives in Batavia, Ohio, my parents and relatives made the journey to see Eugene. we arrived during a thunderstorm. as i approached the building and walked inside, a hugh clap of thunder shook the building.i jumped and ran outside terrified.everyone laughed saying they had never seen anyone jump so high in their lives. how traumatic for a kid.glad to see he is still rememberd.

    • tvyps profile image
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      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @bushaex: Interesting to hear that someone else knows about Eugene! He is an interesting cultural legend. Thank you also for the visit and blessing, it is much appreciated!

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      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      Yes indeed! I grew up 10 miles from Sabina and heard many stories. I think that you have more of the truth here than I did at the time.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I remember vividly my visit to see Eugene! I was sure that we would be the family to recognize him! Sadly, we did not!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Well I sincerely hope that both you and Eugene are very happy as I am now destined to have nightmares in about an hour from now when I head to bed. I was doing fine till I hit the eyeball. (The bloody head didn't help much either) ;)

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      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I had never heard of him until now! Strange! Blessed!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes, I have heard of Eugene. My dad was from Wilmington Ohio.He left Ohio to join the Air Force so we lived in Texas. On one our visits to Ohio my dad decided to take us to see Eugene. I must have been about 10 years old. I remember running out screaming. Maybe that's why I was afraid of the dark.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes, my dad was from Wimington ohio he joined the Air Force so we live in Texas. One year we went up north to visit and my father took us to see Eugene. I must have been mo more than 10 years old. I remember running out screaming. Maybe that was why i was afraid of the dark for such a long time.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      in the 60's when he was on display. you could walk up and touch him. I did, he was hard as stone.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      No, I had never heard of Eugene before. BTW, congratulations on your lens being included on the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" monsterboard!

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      ellagis 5 years ago

      I had never heard about Eugene, but I guess it must have been funny to have him in town! In Rome we have some examples.... but mostly they're popes or saints or so-believed!