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-like 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→
Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals was begun in 1920, the first year of the decade of the flapper. A flapper was a young woman who flouted convention by wearing short skirts and bobbing her hair. She was often seen in wearing a cloche hat and galoshes. Sometimes, her behavior might be considered risqué, but this was not necessarily so. At Aspin Hill Kennels, Bertha Birney named one of her female Boston terriers “Aspin Hill Flapper.” In a 1923 issue of Dog Fancier, it was reported that Aspin Hill Flapper was making quite an impression at dog shows all along the East Coast. Continue reading Aspin Hill Flapper→
The photographs in this post are from Evening Star newspaper, which ceased publication in 1981. The District of Columbia (DC) Public Library holds the photo morgue for the newspaper, which is archived in its Washingtoniana Collection. The images appear on this blog with permission of the DC Public Library.
There’s a granite stone at Aspin Hill Memorial Park which marks the grave of a dog named Rags who is dubbed a “War Hero” and “1st Division Mascot WW I.” I wondered how this dog became a war hero, but I didn’t wonder for long. The tale of Rags is one of the best documented of the pet cemetery stories. Continue reading Rags, War Hero→
[This was originally part of “Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, the Nash Years.” That article is currently being re-written. Sept. 3, 2020]
Looking for Mr. Nash
Having read that S. Alfred Nash was buried at Aspin Hill, I went in search of his grave in April of 2018. I had noticed that many of the gravestones featured the surname of the pet’s owner across the top. I went looking for one that said, “NASH.” I found only one such gravestone, which was for pets named Flapjack and Cueball. However, I could find no sign of the grave of S. Alfred Nash nearby.
A plot about 15 feet away from Flapjack and Cueball was situated in a choice spot under a large flowering cherry tree. A couple of empty beer bottles, some fallen limbs, a broken St. Francis of Assisi statue, and a rusted dog figurine had accumulated in the low corner of the plot. In the center was the remnant of a shrub that was nearly dead itself. Something about this area made me want to check it further.
There were a couple of metal grave markers flush with the surface of the ground. One of them was read “Cuejack 1960-1976 A Friend to All.” Since the name Cuejack was a combination of the names Cueball and Flapjack, I thought, “I’m on to something.” (I also thought, better Cuejack than Flapball.) About a foot away, I saw what I thought was another marker poking out of the ground. I scraped the dirt away from it with my hands. The marker had the image of a bulldog on it, representing a pet that lived from 1968-1973. Its name was Nashional Bo. Not National Bo like the beer, National Bohemian (“From the Land of Pleasant Living”), but NASHional Bo. I was sure I was in the right place, but where was Mr. Nash’s grave? I idly picked up a piece of trash, an old sign that read “Section 2,” and flipped it over. The metal plate on the opposite side read, “Nash Court.”
Encouraged that I was in the right place, I took a sturdy stick and gently probed the earth. Next to Nashional Bo’s marker, I felt something hard under a half-inch of dirt. It turned out to be a marker that read: “S. Alfred Nash 1909-1974.” I had found Mr. Nash! I felt slightly giddy that I had rescued his marker and his memory.
My only worry now is that unless the plot is maintained, Mr. Nash’s grave marker could sink into the ground — and obscurity — once again. I visit the cemetery regularly, and I always check to see that the marker is still visible. We are heading into a spell of regular rain these days, and I’m afraid because the marker is below the level of the rest of the plot, it will get covered up with dirt.
Aspin Hill Memorial Park is owned by the Montgomery County Humane Society. They are maintaining the cemetery with regular mowing, but not much else. I believe that they are doing the best they can with the funding they have. I also think it would be nice if some of the historically significant graves, such as Mr. Nash’s, could get some extra attention.
Earlier this week, I met for the first time with the staff of Montgomery County Humane Society, which owns Aspin Hill Memorial Park. We walked together around the cemetery, sharing information. I learned that S. Alfred Nash’s cremated remains were moved after his wife died. The owners of Aspin Hill at that time (PETA) would not allow her to be buried there with him.
I called Mount Comfort Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia where Martha Nash was buried in 1991. They confirmed that Mr. Nash’s remains were interred in the same site with her in 1992.
I don’t know why the family left his marker behind at Aspin Hill, but I’m glad it is there. It’s an interesting artifact that might be used in an exhibit about the history of the cemetery.