Dogs of Green-Wood Cemetery: Brooklyn’s Interred Pets

March 14, 2016

If you live in New York, and have never visited Green-Wood Cemetery, now the is time! Nestled in Brooklyn, and founded in 1838, the cemetery is 478 acres of prestigious monuments and historic standing. The cemetery is the home to an array of famous people, Civil War soldiers, actors, politicians, and their glorious mausoleums! In fact, the cemetery was the inspiration of Central Park. That’s right!
And on April 9th of this year, Green-Wood Cemetery is hosting a tour of the grounds. But not to see the famous people buried there…the animals. The All Dogs Go To Heaven Tour will be stopping at some of the loyal pets and horses that found their way beside their owners after death, and the marvelous animal monuments that scatter the cemetery. If you’re interested in learning about the mysterious dogs buried in Brooklyn’s famous cemetery, maybe the tour is for you!


In 1879, the New York Times published a small article titled “A Faithful Dog’s Funeral.” The story goes that Gipsy’s owner, Lemuel Wilmarth, requested that his faithful dog be buried in the same plot as himself. They had been together for 23 years, and in those two decades Gispy is said to have saved Wilmarth’s wife from drowning. The request was approved, but the order to put a stone on Gipsy’s grave was never fulfilled. The Newfoundland dog was then forgotten in time until ASPCA documents were found about Gipsy. At the time of his death in 1879, the founder of the ASPCA, Henry Bergh, wrote him a poem. In 2007, a true headstone was placed for Gispy. On it is Bergh’s poem.

He’s gone! The friend of many years,
‘Neath Greenwood’s sod he lies;
Worthy was he of all our tears
As when a human being dies.
His name was “Gipsy,” and his race
Though not of men, was pure and true;
His soul was pictured in his face,
And he could love and reason too.
No more upon the chimney hearth
His crouching form we see;
He moulders now beneath the earth,
But he’s not dead to me.
He’s gone! This faithful, darling friend,
Where truth and virtue dwell;
Say not that this shall be the end
Of him we loved so well.

-Henry Bergh (1879) Founder of the ASPCA


Laddie and Rex

Unlike Gipsy, finding Laddie or Rex is a challenge. Somewhere in the vast 478 acres of Green-Wood lies a small gravestone with a engraving of a dog, Laddie written on it. They will be part of the trolley tour, but there seems to be very little on these particular graves. You could say that Laddie and Rex were interred prior to 1880, because after Gipsy was laid to rest there was a public uproar. Angry about pets being placed in the cemetery, the public petitioned Green-Wood to stop the practice. And they obliged. We were able to track down that both Laddie and Rex may have been owned by John E. Stow, who was buried in 1884 in lot 2925. Does that mean that Rex and Laddie were buried before him, or after the ban on animal burials?


Little Dace

But the practice of burying animals in Green-Wood was a long time thing. After all, the cemetery was founded in 1838, but the charming stone for Little Dace looks like it is dated “July12th, 1856.” His stone is clearly eroded, but speaks of a true love between pet and owner. We couldn’t track down who Little Dace is connected to, but perhaps the tour will enlighten goers to a charming story.



But Green-Wood has another mystery, one not added to the tour. Apparently, there are rumors that Rose Halladay Howe’s dog, Fannie, shares the family plot. Rose was married to Elias Howe Jr., and received Fannie after her husband passed away. The pug, Fannie, was a canine socialite. So, when she passed in 1881, Rose organized a ridiculously lavish funeral (or so it is reported.) This offers a few questions, especially since 1881 was after the cemetery had banned animal burials. But sure enough, the Howe family plot hosts a small gravestone with “Fannie” on top, and a section from M.A. Collins’ poem Flight engraved. A few sources say that Fannie was buried elsewhere, and the cemetery never confirmed Fannie’s burial.


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