Grave of Johnny Morehouse – Dayton, Ohio - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Dayton, Ohio

Grave of Johnny Morehouse

A headstone tells the sad story of a lost little boy and his pet dog. 

One of the more unusual graves at Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery features a little boy resting beneath the paws of a large dog.

Five-year-old Johnny Morehouse was the youngest son of a cobbler in Dayton in the 1860s. He was playing with his pet dog by the Miami & Erie Canal when he fell into the water. His dog leapt in after him and tried to rescue the boy, but was unsuccessful. Johnny drowned and was buried at Woodland Cemetery. Allegedly the dog stood by the grave for weeks, waiting for Johnny and subsisting on scraps given him by sympathetic mourners.

Johnny’s story is most likely remembered because of his poignant gravestone. It depicts the little boy nestled against his dog, and surrounded by a harmonica, a cap, a ball, and a top. Visitors touched by the tender monument to the child’s death will leave behind additional gifts–the headstone is frequently covered in flowers and toys.