~ Last updated on Sep 28, 2021 ~
Stiffy Green ~ The Most Beloved Bulldog In All Of Indiana
The story of John Heinl and his loyal companion Stiffy Green is based on real events. He was said to have often been seen walking the streets of Terre Haute, Indiana with his small bulldog. They were inseparable. Stiffy Green supposedly got his name because of his stiff stride and his emerald-green eyes.
Mr. Heinl passed away in 1920, and was laid to rest in a mausoleum at the Highland Lawn Cemetery.
Stiffy reportedly spent the entire funeral service whimpering by the casket and would snarl at all who approached. Family members had to physically remove him from the mausoleum before shutting the door.
The determined companion 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, assuming he would follow.
The Vigilance of an Amazing Companion
Stiffy spent years standing guard, threatening any who got too close. People brought food to the cemetery for Stiffy, but he refused to eat. 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, Mrs. Heinl supposedly found Stiffy’s deceased body still guarding his master’s mausoleum. Since his story was locally well-known, it was decided that his body would be taken to a taxidermist. Stiffy was preserved in a sitting pose and placed at the spot he had been found so he could continue to guard his master.
Unfortunately, teenagers fired a shotgun into the crypt and blew out one of Stiffy’s green glass eyes. He was removed from the mausoleum for safekeeping in the mid-1980s.
I was unaware of his removal when I visited the mausoleum and was very sad to see that he was no longer watching over his owner. I was now dedicated to finding out where he had been moved to.
The Local Story Has Become Legendary
Upon further research, I found that the Terre Haute Lion’s Club built a replica of the Heinhl mausoleum inside the Vigo County Historical Museum where Stiffy Green was moved and has been ever since.
Unfortunately, the full accounts of this story cannot be confirmed. Locals, who grew up with the legend, say that Stiffy Green was a real dog, but the Vigo County Historical Society has been recorded stating:
“Stiffy never was a real dog, he was, in fact, a cement statue who adorned the front porch of the Heinel household and a favorite of Mr. Heinel’s. 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.”
Either way, this story is an awesome one and we should all be so lucky to have a boon companion such as this at least once in a lifetime.