You Never Forget a Good Dog

Blackie, 1944-1956.
Blackie, 1944-1956.

Blackie was a cocker spaniel mix who belonged to Mel Kornspan’s family when he was a child living in Washington, D.C. Blackie lived a dozen good years as a member of the family before passing away in 1956. Mel’s mother, Rebecca, arranged for her to be buried at Aspin Hill. Mel never forgot Blackie and keeps a tiny photo of her in a red frame to remember her by. Continue reading You Never Forget a Good Dog

Pheasant Farming in Glenmont

“Denley Mansion,” ca. 1970. Photograph from digital collections of Montgomery History.
“Denley Mansion,” ca. 1970. Photograph from digital collections of Montgomery History.

When I grew up in Glenmont in the 1960s, I knew this house as “the Denley mansion.” It sat on a patch of land on the west side of Georgia at Denley Road, just north of Randolph Road. Its most prominent feature was a second-story arched window. By 1966, it was no longer occupied, and I began to hear talk that it was going to be torn down for a subway that would go all the way to Washington, D. C. I remember thinking at the time, “that’s crazy talk.” If you’d told me that there had been a pheasant farm on that same property, I’d have been even more surprised. Continue reading Pheasant Farming in Glenmont

Staff and Fritzie: World War I Dog Heroes

The first known war dog buried at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery was “Staff,” who fought with an unnamed American unit in World War I. He was wounded by German artillery, but French surgeons stitched him back together again. Two bullets remained embedded in his leg. His mate, “Fritzie,” also fought in the war. Staff died in 1925; Fritzie died six years later in 1931.1

“Costly Stones Mark Graves Of Pets In Novel Animal Cemetery," Washington Times, August 14, 1933,
“Costly Stones Mark Graves Of Pets In Novel Animal Cemetery,” Washington Times, August 14, 1933,

Continue reading Staff and Fritzie: World War I Dog Heroes

Pet Cemetery at the National Arboretum

Dog cemetery. ca. 1916-1917. National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress Call Number: LC-F82- 1694 [P&P]
Dog cemetery. ca. 1916-1917. National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress Call Number: LC-F82- 1694 [P&P]
Around 1901, Dr. David E. Buckingham, a veterinarian, established a pet cemetery in a wooded area of Washington, D.C. east of Mt. Olivet Cemetery.  The land is now part of the U.S. National Arboretum.

In an earlier post about Dr. Buckingham, I mentioned looking for this pet cemetery in 2020, without success. On February 23, 2021, I searched again, accompanied by an architectural historian and an archaeologist who had additional information about where the cemetery might be. This time, we had better luck. I found the site of the pet cemetery, but alas there is nothing left but two old gate posts.

Dr. Buckingham picked a lovely spot for his pet cemetery. It’s on the side of a hill overlooking (in the distance) Kingman Lake and the northern section of Kingman Island. Farther out, you can see the Anacostia River.

Perhaps there are still dogs and cats buried there, but there were no visible grave markers. Any further investigation of the site would probably require the approval of the Federal government, something I’m not inclined to pursue.  It’s probably better to let it return to nature. Still, I’m glad I got to see it, and its beautiful vantage point.

Aspin Hill History in The Montgomery County Story

"Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery: 100 Years of Pets, People, and the Stories Behind the Stones," by Julianne Mangin. The Montgomery County Story, Fall 2020, vol. 63 no. 2. pp. 1-21.
“Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery: 100 Years of Pets, People, and the Stories Behind the Stones,” by Julianne Mangin.

“Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery: 100 Years of Pets, People, and the Stories Behind the Stones,” by Julianne Mangin. The Montgomery County Story, Fall 2020, vol. 63 no. 2. pp. 1-21.
Published by Montgomery History (formerly known as the Montgomery County Historical Society).

This is the most comprehensive history of the Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery to date. Print copies can be obtained from Montgomery History.  This issue will be available in PDF once the next issue is published.

History of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery Video

Aspin Hill Memorial Park. J. Mangin, September 2020
Aspin Hill Memorial Park. J. Mangin, September 2020

Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery: 100 Years of Pets, People, and the Stories Behind the Stones is a virtual talk that was given for the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD on September 26, 2020.

Two options for viewing:

Via Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=384987492907169

Via Crowdcast:
https://www.crowdcast.io/e/aspin-hill-pet-cemetery