In 1897, a horned toad was placed in the cornerstone of the courthouse in Eastland, TX, as it was being sealed. People remembered the event, but no one thought much of it until 1928, when the courthouse was demolished to make way for a new, Jazz Age model. Three thousand people were on hand to watch the opening of the old cornerstone. Inside lay the horned toad, all right — flat and covered with dust — and ALIVE! After 31 years!
The toad was christened "Old Rip" and became a national sensation. He toured the U.S. He met President Coolidge. Local gas stations gave away complimentary toads to customers.
Eleven months after his resurrection, Old Rip croaked. His body was embalmed and placed in a tiny, open casket — velvet lined — in the lobby of the new courthouse.
A horned toad in the velvet-lined casket can still be seen there today, though there is some controversy over just who is being exhibited. In 1973, Old Rip was stolen. An anonymous kidnapper wrote a letter explaining that his conscience would not let him remain silent any longer. He claimed to be part of a larger conspiracy that had hoaxed the nation with Old Rip. He demanded that his accomplices join him in a full confession.
When no accomplices came forward, another letter arrived, saying that Old Rip could be found in his coffin at the county fairgrounds. The coffin and a toad were recovered — though some believe that this Old Rip is an impostor. Eastland County Judge Scott Bailey has been quoted as saying: "This toad is fairly well-preserved. The other was more...mummified."
Whether the current Old Rip is real or fake, he is on display in his coffin in Eastland. And Old Rip has been immortalized in another way — as the original inspiration for the Warner Bros. cartoon character "Michigan J. Frog," who now serves as the WB television network mascot.
(taken from http://www.roadsideamerica.com/pet/rip.html )