Ghosts of Ohio
Lore & Legends

Stiffy Green

I think I've grown so attached to my pets because they remind me, on a daily basis, that unconditional love really does exist.
--J. Willis

Around the turn of the century in Terre Haute, whenever people saw John Heinl walking down the street, they knew they could count on one thing; there would be a small dog trotting happily along beside Heinl.

The little bulldog went by the odd name of "Stiffy Green" and he was John Heinl’s constant companion. The two were inseparable and wherever Heinl went, he never got far before Stiffy came bounding after him. Some say that Heinl loved his little bulldog more than his own wife... a comment the townspeople kept to themselves whenever Mrs. Heinl was present. Whether or not that statement was true was open to debate. But no one could deny that John Heinl and Stiffy Green had a special bond between them. It was a bond that was so strong that it could not be broken-—even in death.

In 1920, John Heinl passed away. During the entire funeral, Stiffy stayed at the side of Heinl’s casket, whimpering and crying. Whenever anyone attempted to console the dog or move him away from the casket, Stiffy would snarl and snap at them. After the funeral, Heinl’s casket was interred in the family mausoleum at Highland Lawn Cemetery. After a brief struggle, family members were finally able to remove Stiffy from the mausoleum and the doors were sealed. However, no one was able to get Stiffy to budge from his newfound home in front of the mausoleum doors. They finally gave up and left, believing Stiffy would eventually tire and make his way back home.

But Stiffy Green refused to leave his master’s side. Instead, he continued to stand guard outside the Heinl mausoleum, growling at anyone who dared come too close. On a few occasions, Mrs. Heinl was able to coax Stiffy to come home with her, but the dog would only stay a while before making his way back to the cemetery. Not even harsh winds or torrential winds were able to drive Stiffy away from his self-appointed post outside the mausoleum. It was as if he was determined to stay by his master’s side until the very end.

Eventually, the end did come for Stiffy. And when Mrs. Heinl found the still body of the small dog lying in the cemetery, she knew immediately what she had to do. And so, in a macabre form of memorial, Mrs. Heinl had the body of Stiffy preserved by a local taxidermist. She then placed the body of the small dog inside the mausoleum alongside the casket of her husband, finally reuniting two life-long friends.

For years, visitors to Highland Lawn Cemetery would press their faces against the windows of the Heinl Mausoleum, hoping to catch a glimpse of the tiny bulldog silently standing guard over his master. Some people claimed that as they approached the mausoleum, they heard a dog whimpering, followed by the soft voice of a man quieting the dog. What made these claims so bizarre was that the sounds were heard coming from inside the sealed mausoleum.

It is also said that on certain nights, the doors to the Heinl Mausoleum open up and a shadowy man exits and begins walking around the cemetery. Shortly thereafter, just as in life, the ghostly outline of a small dog emerges from the mausoleum and trots happily along behind the man.

(NOTE: Upon hearing this story, all members of the Willis Zoo stated that under no circumstances did they wish to be "stuffed" after their deaths. In fact Strats, the senior officer of the group, has given explicit instructions demanding to be buried at PetsMart®... under the bin that holds the bulk pigs’ ears).

© The Ghosts of Ohio