Old Rip was pet horned toad who belonged to the son of Eastland Justice of the Peace Ernest Wood, and who was put into the cornerstone of the town courthouse, alongside a Bible, when the building was dedicated in 1897.
(Mr. Wood’s motive for entombing his son’s live toad is unclear). Thirty- one years later, when the courthouse was demolished to make way for a new one, Old Rip hopped out- dusty and confused, but eager to fins some ants to eat. The froggy phoenix toured the nation, even visited the White House. When he dies for good the following year, his tiny body was embalmed and placed in a silk-lined coffin made especially for him by the Abilene Casket Company. The coffin is now visible behind a glass window at the front of the new Eastland Courthouse, where a granite monument marks the death-defying lizard’s final resting place.