One of the many grave markers, large and small, at the Hornell Pet Cemetery
on Bald Hill.
The following article is reprinted from the
Humane Society Recorder
Believed to be the oldest pet cemetery in the United States and the second oldest in the world is
Hornell's unique and well-kept cemetery--Friendship Grove located on Bald Hill, just outside the city limits
of the city of Hornell, N. Y. Here are put to rest deceased pets from all over the county.
The cemetery was originally owned by Frank L. Myers who purchased the property in the year 1907
for the sole purpose of burying his departed canines. Soon he accorded his friends the privilege of
burying their pets in his cemetery. The last dog owned by Mr. Myers died of grief, 24 hours after he passed on.
Following Mr. Myers death in 1934, the cemetery was purchased by the Steuben County Humane Society and since then
the Society has kept it up. Here in the shade of towering trees and beneath an odd array of tombstones lies the
remains of between 800 and 900 animals from all over the United States.
Although the cemetery was originally started with the idea of burying only dogs, there are cats, canaries, monkeys
and also a horse and a lion buried there. Many owners have reserved plots for their second or third pet.
A large cement tablet has been erected on which is inscribed Senator West's famous eulogy to a dog. A large
statue of an Indian bearing a monument of tribute to Mr. Myers was erected also by Mary Agnes Leahy and James
Houlihan in 1935. On a tombstone of a poisoned dog is written an epitaph by the owner who claimed his pet was
a better friend to the world than the "dog" who poisoned him. In Mr. Myers plot, apparently the first animal he
buried there is marked with a gray granite tombstone with the markings "Trix 1892-1907".
Among the many canines buried there are "Baron Von Schnaps", a German police dog who was the mascot aboard the
U. S. S. Lexington prior to it's sinking; also "Mr. Bum", mascot of the U. S. S. Texas; "Swaller", mascot of the fire
department who died in 1908 while responding to an alarm; "Trixie", another famous firedog noted for leaping 65 feet
from a ladder and landing in a net. He died in 1909.
Every Decoration Day the graves are adorned with flowers and many people visit the cemetery even though they are not
owners of pets buried there. One marker is inscribed "Prince died September 20, 1936, Black as coal, Heart of Gold".
Prince has been dead for almost 70 years, yet today there are flowers and a satin bow on his grave. A number of graves
are marked with just a plain metal marker, some wooden, others are of marble, granite or stone.
The animals are buried according to their owner’s wishes. Several cats, also several dogs have been buried in satin
lined infant’s caskets. One being sealed with a glass top. Another in a metal box coffin lined with silk containing a
silk pillow for the
animal's head to rest upon. The coffin was lowered into the grave with ropes with the usual funeral rites.
The Society's caretaker does everything in the cemetery from digging the graves, burying the animals, seeding for grass,
setting up markers putting in foundations and keeping the grounds in order throughout the season.
There is a charge for burials which includes a temporary marker, also a fee of $1.00 per year for upkeep. A burial
includes the box, digging the grave
at a regulation depth and seeding. A map is kept up to date at all times showing the section and locations of each plot.
A file in the office indicates each owner. There are several wrought iron seats throughout the grounds for people to rest
on and the huge trees, of which there are many, give ample shade. An animal shelter adjoins the cemetery grounds.
Also we have established a perpetual care plan and many people have taken advantage of this. It eliminates all billing
of the $1.00 a year fee and the important factor remains,
after you have gone, your plot will be taken care of. Many people who live out of town are very happy with this setup.
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The following article is reprinted from "In the Old Days" by Jim Hogan.
"In The Old Days"
Animal Cemetery on Bald Hill Road
"When Ward Lockwood of Leach Avenue, delivered a basketful of old records for use in this column, we found
the following written by John W. Robinson, old time Hornell editor, for the Centennial Edition of The
Evening Tribune, Monday, November 26, 1951."
Animal Cemetery Started by Myers
"When Trixie, a favorite dog of Frank L. Myers, died in 1907, he buried it on the Bald Hill Road opposite
of Rural Cemetery, and marked the grave with a large tombstone.
On this stone was carved the Eulogy to the Dog, by U. S. Senator West of Missouri. Also marking the grave is a
stone representing a dog on a foundation surmounted by a lamb, with inscription reading Trix, 1892-1907.
In 1907, Mr. Meyers had printed for him by C. A. Perley of Hornell, a neat little book, containing poems to the dog
by various poets, photographs of scenes in the Dog Cemetery and an article from "Our Dumb Animals", official magazine
of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as follows:"
"Of the six principal cemeteries for dogs in the world, there is one each in London, Paris, Dedham (a suburb
of Boston), Yorktown Heights Hartsdale Canine Cemetery and one at Hornell. The last named is situated in a pleasing
grove of oaks and maples on high ground, over ten acres in extent, is in easy reach by a good road that separates it from
Hornell Cemetery. In 1907, eighty graves lie in two rows, with another 30 tombstones. These graves are further
beautified by various sorts of flowering plants and hanging baskets of plants. In 1944, the cemetery contained about
800 graves of dogs, cats, canaries, a lion, a monkey and one horse. It occupied 4.35 acres.
Upon the death of Mr. Meyers, the plot was taken over by the Steuben County Humane Society. Officers were:
President, Acton M. Hill; vice president, the Rev. W. W. McCall; secretary-treasurer, Charles Wineburg. Walter
B. Mason, humane officer of the Steuben County Humane Society, has served as caretaker of the cemetery for years.
Besides the cost of a lot, and burial services, there is a fee of one dollar per year for lot upkeep."
And now a little tribute to man's best friend--"The Faithful Dog"
by Senator West
The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy.
His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful.
Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to
their faith. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most.
A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action.
The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw
the stone of malice, when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.
The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have, in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the
one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is the dog.
A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness.
He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely--if only he may be near
his master's side.
He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the
roughness of the world.
He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.
When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love, as the sun in its journey
through the heavens.
If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no
higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies; and when
death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other
friends pursue their way, there, by the side of his grave will the noble dog be found; his head between hi
paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness faithful and true, even to death."
...from "In The Old Days"
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