Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in Ben­ton County’s his­toric le­gacy

■ Gam­ble Fam­ily Ceme­tery grave­stone restora­tion pro­ject

The Weekly Vista - - News - Staff Re­port

The lo­cal Questers Trail of Tears Chap­ter No. 904 un­der­took the Gam­ble Fam­ily Ceme­tery Restora­tion pro­ject as its 2017-18 com­mu­nity phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­ity. In or­der to se­cure the funds nec­es­sary for the pro­ject, the group ap­plied for grants to the State and In­ter­na­tional Questers or­ga­ni­za­tions, raised funds (through a garage sale, a chap­ter silent auc­tion and do­na­tions) and worked at the AARP Re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity in Bella Vista. Al­most $7,000 was raised and de­voted to this pro­ject, which is now com­plete. In ad­di­tion, the group is work­ing to de­velop a school pro­gram that will teach re­spect, eti­quette and the his­tor­i­cal value of the ceme­tery.

Nu­mer­ous grave mark­ers had been van­dal­ized in the past years, in­clud­ing an obelisk of W.M Cal­lis, a Texas Ranger. Spe­cial­ized restora­tion ex­perts were hired to re­pair and re­store 10 grave­stones and two obelisks. Much re­search has been done by the Ben­ton County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, whose in­for­ma­tion and help with this pro­ject was in­valu­able. Emer­son Mon­u­ment Com­pany in Spring­dale un­der­took the re­set­ting of the head­stones and obelisks, in­clud­ing that of Texas Ranger W.M. Cal­lis, who died June 2, 1923. The Texas Rangers were formed in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin hired 10 men to keep the peace.

The Texas Ceme­tery Restora­tion LLC com­pany of Dal­las was con­tracted to re­pair three bro­ken grave mark­ers. The head­stones of Mr. Henry and Mrs. El­iz­a­beth Cal­lis and their son Ge­orge had bro­ken into sev­eral pieces, which re­quired spe­cial­ized restora­tion.

The Questers are ded­i­cated to the study, con­ser­va­tion and preser­va­tion of his­tor­i­cal ob­jects and places for the ben­e­fit of to­day and to­mor­row. The lo­cal Questers Trail of Tears Chap­ter No. 904 pres­i­dent,

Es­ther Os­bahr, com­mit­tee chair Carolan Weaver and her team, as well as all the mem­bers, worked for more than 319 hours on this pro­ject.

The Gam­ble Ceme­tery was es­tab­lished Jan. 18, 1884. Lo­cated in Cen­ter­ton, it is the rest­ing place of more than 100 prom­i­nent Ben­ton County lead­ers and has his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance as prom­i­nent fam­i­lies from the ear­li­est set­tle­ment of Ben­ton County are buried

there, in­clud­ing Civil War and Span­ish Amer­i­can War vet­er­ans. To­day, it is close to the Gam­ble Mid­dle School and new sub­di­vi­sions. Restor­ing and main­tain­ing this his­toric fam­ily-owned ceme­tery is chal­leng­ing and also im­por­tant so that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions un­der­stand, value and re­spect those who set­tled this land and helped de­velop this coun­try.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Questers Trail of Tears No. 904 or to do­nate to this restora­tion pro­ject or to join the group, please con­tact Es­ther Os­bahr at 479-426-6646 or email: ozone1998@gmail.com.

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