In early 20th century Terre Haute, town resident John Heinl and his little gray bulldog Stiffy Green were inseparable. Where ever Heinl went, Stiffy wasn’t far behind. According to some local residents, this bond continued into death.
Heinl passed away in 1920, and his canine companion reportedly spent the entire funeral service whimpering by the side of the casket and snarling at any mourner who attempted to get too close. Following the funeral, Heinl was interred at Highland Lawn Cemetery, where family members had to physically remove Stiffy Green from the mausoleum before shutting the door.
Stiffy Green had lost the battle, but not the war. The determined little bulldog sat down in front of the mausoleum doors, and refused to leave. Eventually, John’s wife, friends and family let the dog be, and left the cemetery, foolishly believing that Stiffy would follow them.
He didn’t, and instead spent years standing guard over John’s casket, threatening any who got too close. On multiple occasions the widow Heinl was able to lure the dog back to her house, but he would always return to the cemetery.
One day, while paying respect to her late husband, Mrs. Heinl found Stiffy’s deceased body. Out of respect to her husband, or his dog, or perhaps a bit of both, she took the corpse to the taxidermist to be preserved then placed him in mausoleum, where he remains to this day.
In the years since, the Highland Lawn Cemetery, and the Heinl mausoleum within it, have become local attractions, and Stiffy Green has turned into an Indiana legend. Curious onlookers stare into the glass, hoping to catch a glimpse of the dutiful stuffed dog. Some have claimed to have heard the sounds of a dog whimpering and a man calming him. Stranger still, there have been citizen reports of a shadowy man and his dog exiting the mausoleum late at night for a peaceful stroll.
Unfortunately, after repeated mausoleum break-in attempts, Stiffy had to be moved, and the stuffed hundred-year-old bulldog now resides in the Vigo County Historical Society building, far away from his old pal John.
Of course, there are some, including “historians” affiliated with the Historical Society, that claim that the mausoleum dog is actually just a cement statue that used to sit on the late John Heinl’s porch, but let’s be honest…
That version of the Stiffy Green legend is much less fun.