Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb? Not Petey of Our Gang.

General Grant of R.K.O., also known as Jiggs (not Petey of Our Gang). Photo taken April 21, 2018
General Grant of R.K.O., also known as Jiggs (not Petey of Our Gang). Photo taken April 21, 2018

One of the most frequently repeated stories about Aspin Hill Memorial Park is that Petey from the Our Gang movies is buried there.  As evidence, newspaper articles about the cemetery in Aspen Hill, Maryland point to the grave of General Grant of R.K.O., whose nickname was Jiggs.

When I visited General Grant of R.K.O.’s grave in 2012, I found a gravestone with a photo of a bulldog on it. That was my first clue that something was amiss. I knew already that all of the dogs who played Petey (there were three of them) were American pit bull terriers. I’ve never seen a bulldog in an Our Gang movie, nor were any of the dogs named Jiggs or General Grant.

The Myth of Petey

Where did the myth of Petey being buried at Aspin Hill Memorial Park begin? It’s hard to say, but I think it may have been  because General Grant’s name included the words “of R.K.O.”  People may have assumed he was a movie actor, then made the illogical leap that he must have been Petey.

Here’s the second clue that General Grant was not Petey:  the Hollywood movie studio RKO Pictures had nothing to do with the Our Gang movies (or the later television revival called The Little Rascals). These were all produced by the Hal Roach Studios and distributed at first by Pathé, and later by MGM — but never by RKO.

Who was General Grant of R.K.O.?

I consulted the American Kennel Club (AKC) stud books to see what I could find out about General Grant of R.K.O. He was registered in 1930 as an English bulldog by S. Almond, who ran the R.K.O. Kennel near Los Angeles, California. When a dog is given its official AKC registered name, it is common to include the kennel’s name. S. Almond bred many dogs, including Draftsman of R.K.O., Dominion of R.K.O., and Duchess of R.K.O.  I could find no direction connection between R.K.O. Kennel and the movie studio, RKO Pictures.

General Grant of R.K.O. had his own brush with fame, however. According to an item in Dog Fancier, he was sent to President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, at his estate in New York. Although the article gushed about an English bulldog being in the White House, it doesn’t appear that General Grant (the dog) was ever a resident there.

Across the top of the General Grant’s gravestone is the name FORBUSH. A little research proved that the Forbushes, Arthur and Gabrielle, were experts on the English bulldog and published books about raising them. In addition, Gabrielle Forbush was a contributor to another book which she co-authored with — wait for it — Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mother (My Boy Franklin). This book was published the same year that General Grant of R.K.O. was shipped to the Roosevelt home.

It seems possible that Gabrielle Forbush either bought the dog from the Roosevelts, or received him as a gift. I know for sure that by 1937, General Grant of R.K.O. was living in Washington, D.C. with the Forbushes, judging from a classified ad in the Evening Star newspaper offering his services as a stud dog.  I never found an article contemporary with his life (despite hours of searching) that claimed he’d ever been in the movies.

Surely the original owners of the Aspin Hill cemetery, Richard and Bertha Birney, would have known where General Grant came from when they buried him. They never claimed he was Petey. The earliest mention I could find of Petey being buried at Aspin Hill was in a newspaper article published in the Montgomery Sentinel on September 2, 1965, long after the Birneys’ deaths in 1944.

General Grant of R.K.O. died in 1938. He may not have been a movie star, but he led an interesting and pampered life just the same.  And his burial in Aspin Hill Memorial Park is evidence that he was well-loved.


JULY 19, 1928
MARCH 22, 1938


Aspin Hill Memorial Park
N 39° 04.753 W 077° 04.615

Sources consulted:

Lee, Julia Sun-Joo.  Our Gang: A Racial History of The Little Rascals. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Villecco, Tony.  Silent Stars Speak: Interviews with Twelve Cinema Pioneers. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001.

The Little Rascals: Collectors Edition, 88 Classic Episodes.  Inspired Pictures, 2011.  DVD, 6 discs.

American Kennel Club Stud Book.  New York:  The Club, 1930.  p. 22.

Lasky, Betty.  RKO, The Biggest Little Major of Them All.  Santa Monica, Calif.:  Roundtable Pub., 1989.

“Bulldogs at the White House,” Dog Fancier v. 42(3) March 1933, p. 15-16.

Evening Star (Wash. D. C.) June 27, 1937, p. G7.

6 thoughts on “Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb? Not Petey of Our Gang.”

  1. Thanks for doing this research…I stand corrected. I wish that the Pet cemetery could be restored. I would live in the house and keep the upkeep of the place, if I was allowed to by the county. I hope that it is never demolished or sold for apartments.

    1. I visited the Grant Memorial in 1986 and it was full of grafitti and evidence of past break in attemps, at least one. In fact I think it was successfully broken into at least once. With all the money wasted by the US government and the City of NY. The man who more than any other was responsible for saving the Union is disrespected in death as he never ever would have been in life. The people for whom he did the most historically show no respect for his memorial at all. There seems to be a pattern here. At a certain point the Congress is bothered by the Grant family over the delapitated state of the memorial and they throw some money and a can of paint at it for a little while. The US Army should post guards at the memorial on 24/7 basis and pretended we’re a superpower. and have some self-respect. Seeing the state of this shrine is disgustion.

  2. Having many pets buried there and as I understand it, people also buried there, it should be never be destroyed and should be maintained as the historic place that it is.

  3. Thank you very much for correcting about our gang petty
    But would still like to take photo of general grant the bull dog,
    I must have walked around for 2hours trying to find his marker,
    Is there a better way of finding the marker, when you walk in from the church parking lot, tree shrubbery big statue, is it near the middle north east fence line south east south west etc…
    Could not make out the degree markers on this Webb site,
    Thank you so much ………301-774-1047

    1. It’s hard to direct people because there are no paths and no map. There is a central area that has relatively orderly rows. On one of the edges of that section, you will see a tall monument with two life-size cat statues on either side. It’s called the Timmons monument. There’s a photo of it in this post. https://petcemeterystories.net/2018/04/05/timmie-the-cat/. If you are standing next to that monument, you will be within 20 feet of General Grant of R.K.O. I hope that helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.