The Healer and the Pirate

The Healer and the Pirate is available now on Kindle and Nook, and in print at Lulu and Amazon!

Friday, June 24, 2011

1920s Pet Cemetery, Liberty Bond Cat, and Comics

One of the top stories from a Pennsylvania newspaper in 1921! Warning, kind of sad/morbid, but certainly no worse than the murder stories that seem to be so common...

Dogs That Men Have Loved Honored in This Graveyard
More Than 200 Canine Pets Rest in Peace in Francisvale Cemetery
Marble Stones Bear Touching Epitaphs and Flowers Deck Many Graves

Every dog has his traditional day and his day of death, but there is no next chapter to tell what becomes of him then.

Sometimes, there is merely a child's sob, a hurried telephone call and the none-too-tender hands of the gardener or ashman to remove a little body.

Occasionally a pathetic mound in the back yard tells how a youngster's plea won some recognition for his pet. That is about all.

But if any one interested in dogs will take a short trolley ride and a bit of a walk some day he may learn the sequel.

He should walk south on the old Gulph road from the Philadelphia and Western Railroad station and make one turn to the right and after a period of dust and sun and green meadows, he comes suddenly on a graveyard.

Not a large, iron-gated cemetery, with a bent care-taker, and perhaps a funeral cortege or so drawn up alongside. Just a little field with waving grass, dotted with mounts, over, which stand silent testimonials of some one's affection.

Some Marble Shafts

Most of the graves are marked with plain wooden crosses or shafts, with a name simply written thereon. Others have small marble markers, a few have elaborate shafts of marble, beautifully marked and beautifully decorated.

The tenants of all these graves are dogs, dogs big and little, pedigreed and common, who have gone to what a Philadelphia writer once called, in an immortal dog story :

"The Happy Hunting Grounds, because no one hunts you, and there is nothing to hunt; it just comes to you."

Don't climb over the fence and go to the little graveyard by its back entrance ; but walk on to the rambling old house where the care-takers live. In between the staccato barkings of some twenty or thirty "live" dogs, which are being boarded, and the numerous strays, you will be told that it is the Francisvale Home, founded about twenty-two years ago by Mrs. George McClelland. Follow the shady path pointed out to you, and you come upon the cemetery.

Strangely enough, the very first grave shelters no dog of any breed, but a cat instead. Huckleberry is the name, and he (or she) is designated as a Liberty Bond Cat, a term which no one seems able to explain.

Huckleberry died August 3, 1919, according to the simple inscription on the marble slab, which also bears the name of F. H. Chatfield, Huckleberry's owner. The grave has flowers growing around it.

The largest stone in the cemetery, five feet tall and nearly as wide, bears the following inscription:

This Stone is Erected by Arthur Peterson in memory of his two dogs, Sand, a Scotch collie, died August 17, 1914, and Mazambique, a St. Bernard, died March 11, 1912, for many years his affectionate companions and faithful friends."...

The founders of the cemetery have a large lot with four graves. Chief of the stones in this McClelland lot is the one in memory of Gobbo, born in 1875 and dying in 1889. No occupant of the cemetery goes back in time as far as this doggie, who was for fifteen years the pet of Harriet Hare and George McClelland, according to the inscription. Also in this lot is the grave of "Francis," for whom the cemetery is named. "Francis" died in 1910. "Quits" and "Carl" lie side by side in the same lot....

There are altogether 245 graves in the Francisvale Cemetery, and about thirty of them have shafts of stone and marble.... The funeral services are not elaborate; in fact, it is seldom that the owners accompany their pets out to the cemetery.

But it is not an uncommon thing, of a bright Sunday afternoon, for a motorcar to drive up, an occupant or two alight and go up to the cemetery to lay a bright flower or two in token of affection and undimmed memory for a faithful, dumb friend.

Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA) -- June 25, 1921 Page 1 and Page 2

The article itself has several more epitaphs. I had no idea pet cemeteries dated back to the late 1800s! Evidently Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in New York was the first in America.

The "Francisvale Home" described in the article is still around as a no-kill shelter and pet cemetery! You can read about it at

You can even see the cemetery at!

(And along the lines of pet cemeteries, my friend/writing partner Maggie wrote an excellent blog entry on considering your pet's final resting place.)

Amazingly, the Internet has revealed to us exactly what a Liberty Bond Cat was! From The National Humane Review, Volumes 7-8--I believe this article is from November 1920:


Blackberry Chatfield is an aristocratic cat who lives in the Arnold Apartments at Atlantic City, New Jersey. Blackberry is somewhat of a local celebrity, for during the war his mistress bought him a Liberty bond which is duly registered in his name and recently he has become a regular subscriber to THE NATIONAL HUMANE REVIEW. Unlike ordinary cats Blackberry has his own calling card. Originally Mrs. F. H. Chatfield had two black cats, the other named Huckleberry. However, Huckleberry died some time ago. That Blackberry is an exceedingly wise cat and that he appreciates his own importance can easily be seen from his picture.

--The National Humane Review, Volumes 7-8

And in much lighter news, the newspaper had nearly a page of comics...these were the only two I "got."

(Click to magnify.)

Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA) -- June 25, 1921

No comments:

Post a Comment