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.
Somewhere in Aspin Hill Memorial Park lie the remains of a monkey named Gypsy, the companion of a legless beggar on the streets of Washington, D.C. How a panhandler was able to afford a funeral and burial in a pet cemetery is an interesting question.
[Update August 2019: Gypsy’s grave site has been found!]
[Update September 3, 2020: There were two monkeys named Gypsy, and both were buried at Aspin Hill.]
I was first alerted to the story of Eddie “The Monkey Man” Bernstein while reading an article written in 1979 in the Montgomery Journal. It was five years after S. Alfred Nash, former owner of the cemetery, had passed away. The reporter interviewed Nash’s widow, Martha, who was still running the cemetery at the time.
Mrs. Nash told the story of a monkey buried in Aspin Hill that belonged to a legless beggar on the street in Washington, D.C. She recalled giving her children coins to give to the monkey, who entertained them with antics and then handed his take over to the beggar. At the end of the story, she shook her head and said, “I used to feel so sorry for him sitting there on the street…Shoot, the man had more money than I got.” Continue reading Eddie “The Monkey Man” Bernstein: a Rags to Riches Story→
Richard and Bertha Birney ran the pet cemetery until 1944, when both of them died. Richard Birney died first, on August 28 12, and Bertha followed him in death on November 25.34 Her obituary in Montgomery County Sentinel stated that the cemetery would continue to be operated by George and Gertrude Young who had begun working with the Birneys around 1942. Continue reading Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, 1930-1960→
Dogs represent the majority of animals buried at Aspin Hill Memorial Park. Cats are almost equally numerous. But it’s not just cats and dogs that are buried at this pet cemetery. There are also horses, birds, snakes, rabbits, hamsters, turtles, and at least one opossum. A former owner of the cemetery once claimed that he could bury an elephant if he had to, although he was never called upon to do so. Even more surprising is the fact that there are quite a few humans buried there as well. Continue reading Not Just Cats and Dogs→
On July 14, 1920, Richard C. Birney and his wife Bertha took possession of what was referred to on the deed as “10 acres more or less on the Seventh Street Pike.” (Seventh Street Pike is now known as Georgia Avenue.) 1 On this tract of farmland, seven miles north of the Washington, D.C. border, the Birneys planned to breed dogs, to board other peoples’ dogs, and to run a pet cemetery. Continue reading Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, The Early Years→