New home for Gunning Bedford, Jr.

By Kelly Tyrrell/Amy Cherry 3:16pm, October 24, 2013
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
A prominent Delawarean in history has a new eternal resting place.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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Though a chilly wind whipped through the grounds of the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery Thursday, the mood was warm with celebration at a dedication ceremony for Gunning Bedford Jr.

"He was a United States District Court Judge from Delaware, he was signer of the Constitution and he was integral in the formation of the way that our government works today," said Scott Reese, attorney and member of the cemetery's board.

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The Delaware patriot and four of his family members were interred at the downtown Wilmington grave site, relocated from the Masonic Home on Lancaster Pike.

"With the pending sale of the Masonic Home of DE and not being able to control the future of the grounds with the Bedford grave site, it was felt the grave site should be moved to a place of greater protection," said Ginger Trader, keynote speaker and vice president of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

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When Wayne Mower, past Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Delaware -- like Bedford Jr., who was its first Grand Master -- learned the Masonic Home was being sold, he took action.

"I knew what was going to happen with the Masonic right away I went into high gear to try and bring it down here in a place where it would be more protected and more visible to the community," Mower said.

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Jim Chandler, president of the cemetery on 701 Delaware Avenue, said the remains were moved to Wilmington and Brandywine in May.

It was the third time Bedford Jr.'s remains have had to find a new resting place.

Originally buried in 1812 at the First Presbyterian Church off Rodney Square, the remains were moved when the site was converted to house the Wilmington Public Library in 1921.

They went to the Masonic Home in Christiana where they remained until this year.

The Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery was selected because of its rich historical significance. At 170 years old, the still-active public cemetery spans 25 acres in the city. It welcomes visitors, offering tours and holding community service days.

Some of Delaware's most famous families are buried here, including the Bayards and the Tatnalls. Delaware's first governor, John McKinly, is also buried in the cemetery that rests in the shadows of some of Wilmington's largest high-rises.

"There's so many notables buried in this cemetery, it's good to have one more," said Mower.

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