“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.
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→
I love this simple grave stone. There is no name or date on it, so I have no story to tell you. It appears to be cast concrete. Above the portrait of the Boston terrier, there is a motto, spelled out in metal letters pressed into the concrete: Lest We Forget. It’s a simple reminder of what Aspin Hill — or any cemetery — is about: the loving remembrance of those who have enriched our lives and are now gone.
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→
There’s something poignant about the decay at Aspin Hill Memorial Park, as represented by the headless statues I have found over the years. However, people whose pets and human relatives are buried there may see the decay of this cemetery much differently. Continue reading Headless Statues of Aspin Hill Memorial Park→