LAMBERTVILLE - At age 86 years, 10 months, and 19 days, John Lambert was laid to rest in 1857.
The namesake for Lambertville, Mr. Lambert was a preacher and a land speculator. He couldn't write his name.
Didn't matter much. "They did a lot of talking back then," said Trudy Urbani, a Bedford author and historian who has been researching the life and times of Mr. Lambert.
Mr. Lambert, an early land holder in the Bedford Township area, in 1843 deeded 11/3 acres of land on Monroe Road to the township and the Methodist Church for a "burying ground and meeting place." After that, Mrs. Urbani said, the area became known as Lambertville.
On Sunday, Mrs. Urbani and others gathered at Mr. Lambert's grave in Lambertville Cemetery and dedicated a pearl gray granite tombstone to replace the original tombstone which had been ravaged by time, neglect, and vandals.
When he was buried, Mr. Lambert received full honors in a ceremony conducted by fellow members of the Masonic Lodge, Mrs. Urbani said.
At the dedication of the new tombstone, crossed swords were part of the ceremony which was planned to be "simple and authentic," she said. A blanket made of flowers and greenery was placed on the grave.
The new tombstone is about 20 inches wide; 4 inches thick, and 54 inches tall, said Leo Le Clair, owner of Le Clair Monuments in Lambertville. The firm donated the labor for the tombstone project, and provided the granite "at cost," he said.
A local group of historians initially planned to restore the original tombstone which was in four pieces, but estimates for repair exceeded the cost to replace it, Mrs. Urbani said.
Funding for the $810 cost for the project was provided by donations from the Historical Society of Bedford, the Bedford Community Foundation, the Abel family, the Urbani family, and other members of a group called the Good Samarians.
The new tombstone was made to duplicate the original one, Mr. Le Clair said. There is a large Masonic emblem along with the "date of passing," he said. Other details on the tombstone include a short Bible verse, "Let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like his!"
On the back of the tombstone new information was added, Mr. Le Clair said, including an inscription "Namesake for Lambertville;" a notation that Mr. Lambert deeded the land which became Lambertville, and the dedication date, October 14, 2007.
Mr. Le Clair said he welcomed the chance to be involved in the project when he was approached by Mrs. Urbani.
"I love history, number one, and number two, I love to go through, naturally, old cemeteries. Some of the old stones are very interesting," he said.
Mrs. Urbani has been interested in local history for several years. Past president of the Historical Society of Bedford and local history author, she recently donated $5,000 in seed money - proceeds from selling her car - to the Bedford Community Foundation.
Now, she's rallying fund-raising support to establish the Bedford Area Historical Museum. She has 150 boxes of photographs, genealogies, and documents stored at her home, awaiting the opening of the museum.
In 1996, Mrs. Urbani established the Good Samarians, an organization dedicated to the collection and preservation of local history, including information about the Bedford Township community of Samaria.
Members of the Good Samarians are mapping the oldest section of the Lambertville Cemetery, and it was during their work that they discovered the poor condition of the 150-year-old tombstone of Mr. Lambert.
Plans call for the original tombstone to be placed in the museum when it opens, Mrs. Urbani said.
Contact Janet Romaker at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6006.