Stiffy Green the Bulldog
Terre Haute, Indiana
John G. Heinhl died in 1921, and the story goes that his loyal pet, a bulldog, refused to leave him -- even after Heinhl was placed in the family mausoleum at Highland Lawn Cemetery. The dog snarled at all who approached, and stood sentinel until one day, when Heinhl's widow found him dead. The bulldog was stuffed, green glass eyes added, and placed inside the mausoleum, visible through the entrance grate.
The truth is that the dog had been a concrete statue that stood on the front porch of the Heinhl's home until Mr. Heinhl passed away. Over the decades, the Heinhl mausoleum became a favorite rendezvous for dating teenagers, who would shine flashlights through its glass doors to see the dog's glowing eyes. They called him "Stiffy Green," and a legend grew that he had been a noble dog.
Several more decades passed. Teenagers in the 1980s, no longer interested in legends nor satisfied with flashlights, fired bullets into the Heinhl crypt and blew out one of Stiffy's eyes.Stiffy was removed from the mausoleum for safekeeping in mid-1980s.
The Terre Haute Lion's Club, sensing a useful public service opportunity, built a life-size replica of the Heinhl mausoleum inside the County Historical Museum, and Stiffy was moved into it in 1989. He has been there ever since, safe to confuse yet another generation of Hoosiers and to grace the museum's most popular sweatshirt.
Terre Hautians who grew up with the legend kept writing to tell us Stiffy Green was a real dog, so we checked with Marylee Hagan, Executive Director of the Vigo County Historical Society: "Stiffy never was a real dog, he was, in fact, a cement fellow who adorned the front porch of the Heinel household and a favorite of Mr. Heinel's. After the vandalism of the mausoleum, the family gave him to the Vigo County Historical Society for safe keeping. He resides in our lower level in the replica of the family mausoleum. Of course, the legend is a fun story of loyalty and we let visitors make up their own minds about what is true and not true about the story."
Note: The cemetery's other residents include the triple-victims of 1914's Brazilian Gypsy Murders, and Chief Bearfoot, a performer in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show.)