The origins of the Meadow Brook Hall pet cemetary


These headstones mark the graves of horses, but those plots are unrealistically narrow.

When October comes around, scary stories abound. At Oakland University, chilling tales take place right on campus. However, are any of them fact? Or are they all fiction?

An old mansion, like Meadow Brook Hall, is bound to have ghost stories, but who would have thought a pet cemetery would be one of those stories?

Meadow Brook Hall was the home of the Wilson family, co-founders of Oakland University. Today, the hall it is a national historic landmark.

Having a pet cemetery makes people think of the Stephen King novel and movie, “Pet Semetery,” leading many to be weary to ever go to such a place.

The Wilson family had farm animals, as well as household pets. Many were beloved, so much so that they were buried.

“There was not only precedent for the Wilson family to [bury them], there was also their desire to honor their pets,” said Madelyn Rzadkowoloski, curator at Meadow Brook Hall.

There are three gravestones which can be seen while walking through the woods. They sit on a fork in the road, if you do not look closely, it can be easily missed. It is these gravestones which lead to ghost stories being spread around campus.  

Cemeteries already serve as a scary place during October. However, a pet cemetery takes it to a new level. Although they were, at one time, very common.

“The idea of a pet cemetery is not unusual, particularly on country estates like Meadow Brook,” Rzadkowolski said. “Queen Victoria of England started one at her Norfolk estate in 1887, and Queen Elizabeth II has continued that tradition for the past fifty years.”

The names of two horses (Ashour and Dinarth Sunbeam) and one dog (Charles of Wai Tou) are on the tombstones, but there does not seem to be a lot of room in between the stones.

“Trust me, I’ve buried horses. Those [gravesites] aren’t big enough,” Meadowbrook Hall museum assistant Diane Berry said. “You would need to dig a basement.”

In fact, the fork in the road cemetery is not even a cemetery at all.

According to Shannon O’Berksi, marketing & communications manager at Meadow Brook Hall, it is just a memorial to their pets. Given the death dates being within a month of each other, this makes a little more sense.

However, there was a pet cemetery on the grounds. Where, exactly, remains unknown.