Here in Montgomery County, Maryland, we are being invaded by millions of periodical cicadas (from Brood X). Nowhere is safe, even Aspin Hill Memorial Park.
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.
Tipperary Mary was indeed a great jumper. In 1928, with a 13-year-old boy on her back, she jumped to victory at the National Capital Horse Show at Bradley Farms in Chevy Chase. Young Don Bradley and his little brown mare competed in the “Touch-and-Out” event, involving a series of jumps up to four feet high. According to the report in The Washington Post, Tipperary Mary was the only horse in a field of 39 who completed the course perfectly on her first try.
By 1934, Tipperary Mary belonged to Jean Barnsley of Olney, Maryland. She was an avid equestrian who competed in a charity horse show that year in Montgomery County. The pair took first place in the “handy hunter” class, which involves a course that attempts to replicate the turns and jumps of hunting. Tipperary Mary continued to compete at 25 years of age.
Donald Bradley, who rode Tipperary Mary to local fame in 1928, married her owner, Jean Barnsley, some time between 1935 and 1940. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I like the idea of this remarkable horse bringing them together. Tipperary Mary died in 1951 at the age of 36. The Bradleys’ shared devotion to the spirited Tipperary Mary led them to bury her at Aspin Hill Memorial Park with this beautiful gravestone.
Inscription: TIPPERARY MARY THE GREAT JUMPER 1915-1951 Jean-Don & Donna Bradley Location: Aspin Hill Memorial Park N39° 04.745 W77° 04.662
“Eleven Big Events Inaugurate Horse Show in New Home: Donald Bradley, Only 13 Wins Coveted ‘Touch-and-Out’ Jumping Award.” The Washington Post, May 18, 1928, pg. 2.
“Gov. Ritchie Sees ‘The Hour’ Win Charity Horse Show: Crowd Ignores Showers as County’s Best Mounts Run and Jump.” The Washington Post, Sep 30, 1934, pg. M6.
“Horse Show Crown Again Won by Recall,” by Anne Hagnet. The Washington Post, Sep 15, 1940, pg. 3.
For the first twenty-four years of my life, I lived less than two miles from the one of the oldest pet cemeteries in the United States. During those years, I never visited it, although I would occasionally hear stories about it. People would say that J. Edgar Hoover’s dogs were buried there as well as the dog “Petey” from the Our Gang movies.
Continue reading The Stories Behind the Stones