I was recently notified that I have been selected to receive an Excellence in Preservation award for the documentation of and advocacy for preservation of the Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery. The award will be presented at the 2019 Annual Montgomery County Awards for Preservation at a ceremony and reception on Saturday afternoon, March 14, 2020, at historic Grace United Methodist Church, 119 North Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg.
Business boomed during the years that S. Alfred Nash owned the cemetery. He buried around 10,000 pets during the 13 years that he was there. Mr. Nash and his wife, Martha, were said to have had between 200 and 300 pets of their own while they lived at Aspin Hill. In addition to several dogs, they had ducks, peacocks, goats, a turkey, and even a Shetland pony. Continue reading Aspin Hill Memorial Park 1975 to the Present→
In mid-September of this year, I was searching the online photographic collections of the Library of Congress. Ever hopeful of finding historical images of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, I came across this shot of a grave stone for a pet named “Miss Fudge.” The title of the photograph was “Dog cemetery, Miss Logan’s dog.” It was taken around 1921.
Suspecting that this might have been taken at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, I checked the burial records. Sure enough, on the very first page of the oldest burial register, there was an entry for a Mrs. Logan, who buried a fox terrier there on September 15, 1920. There was even a little sketch of the grave stone in the register, which matched the one in the photograph. Continue reading Miss Fudge→
Today, October 4, is World Animal Day, which also happens to be the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery used to hold observances of this day in during the 1930s and 1940s.
The first was in 1936. Pet cemetery owner Richard Birney spoke at the ceremony, along with Virginia W. Sargent, president of the Animal Protective Association and James P. Briggs of the Humane Education Association.
In 1940, the event featured a talk by Charles Edward Russell, president of the National Society of Humane Regulation of Vivisection and a display of the work of Harry Bradbury, an artist specializing in birds and animals.
The last observance of World Animal Day at Aspin Hill which was reported in the newspapers was in 1943. After Richard and Bertha Birney’s deaths in 1944, the practice appears to have been discontinued.
“Rites Will Honor Pets at Cemetery.” Washington Post, October 3, 1936. pg. X26.
“Animal Lovers Pay Tribute to Dead Pets.” Washington Post, October 7, 1940, pg. 13
“Animal Memorial Observance to Be Held Today.” Washington Post, October 4, 1943, pg. 8.
On September 4, 2019, I appeared in John Kelly’s column in the Washington Post. He came to the cemetery to see the grave of Eddie Bernstein’s monkey. I located it for him, and then gave him a tour. Because John enjoyed the stories I told about Aspin Hill Memorial Park, he wrote a separate article just about the cemetery and the work I’ve been doing there. Here’s a link:
“More than 50,000 animals are buried in this cemetery,” Washington Post, September 4, 2019. p. B3.
Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace were animal lovers. They owned several dogs, cats, canaries, and even a raccoon. They also received animals as gifts from other countries, which they often kept at the White House. Some, such as a black bear and wallaby, were sent to the National Zoo to be raised.
Calvin Coolidge’s favorite dog was a white collie named Rob Roy. He was prominently featured in First Lady Grace Coolidge’s official portrait, painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1924. This painting still hangs in the White House China Room, which was decorated in a shade of red that matched her dress. Continue reading Presidential Animal Lovers Calvin and Grace Coolidge→
The statue of Robin Goodfellow sits sphinx-link on the grounds of Aspin Hill Memorial Park, way in the back near where the older burials are. On one side of the base of his memorial are inscribed these words: “To the memory of my precious greyhound Robin Goodfellow January 3, 1926 – May 24, 1935.” On the other side, it reads, “Robin’s little day on earth is ended. He loved much, sympathized deeply, understood clearly, and was kind.” At the front of the base is the name, “A. Wilson Mattox.” If you look to the left of Robin Goodfellow, you will see A. Wilson Mattox’s own grave stone, inscribed with his birth and death dates, November 12, 1876 to May 25, 1950. Continue reading Humans Buried at Aspin Hill→
Many people believe that I am misspelling the name of the cemetery on my blog and in my posts on Facebook. Here are some artifacts from the archives of the cemetery which show that Aspin Hill really is the name of the cemetery. As I point out in the history of the cemetery, while the road adjacent to the cemetery and the surrounding neighborhoods are called “Aspen Hill,” the cemetery’s original owners intentionally named it “Aspin Hill.”
Here is the back and the front of a postcard found in the files of the cemetery. In this case, the reverse side is more relevant to the subject of this post. However, I can’t resist asking, “Who puts caskets on a postcard?” Answer: Mr. Nash.
This is the current sign on the cemetery:
Now when someone tells me I’ve spelled the name of the cemetery incorrectly, I’ll just send them a link to this post.
Selma Snook buried four of her poodles in Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals in the early 1920s. From left to right, are interred the remains of Boots, Buster, Trixie, and Snowball. Their funerals were described in Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, The Early Years.
Peerless Rockville, the historical society for the city of Rockville, Maryland, has a collection of photographs taken by Malcolm Walter. Eight of them were of Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals (as it was called then), taken in 1927. I was particularly interested in how orderly the grave stones were in the plot and wondered what they might look like now. Continue reading Aspin Hill Then And Now: The Snook Plot→