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Revolutionary War hero's headstone restored

Updated 10:24 pm, Wednesday, March 14, 2012
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FAIRFIELD -- The damaged headstone marking the grave of one of the town's most heroic Revolutionary War figures has been restored.

The picture of the toppled headstone at the burial site of Capt. Samuel Smedley was included in a book about the Fairfield patriot by local author Jackson Kuhl, "Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer." Former town historian Bill Lee did the illustrations for the book and decided to spearhead an effort to repair the marker in the Old Burying Ground on Beach Road.

Lee, who has described Smedley as "one of the most heroic" town residents during the Revolutionary era, said the book brought "attention to the disrepair and disgrace of Capt. Smedley's gravestone."

Smedley enlisted at age 23 as a lieutenant of marines of the defense during the American Revolution, becoming captain a year later. According to Kuhl's book, he survived smallpox, a shipwreck and was captured twice, but escaped from prison.

The 200th anniversary of his burial will be June 13.

Lee got the restoration project rolling by seeking permission from the Board of Selectmen and during a brief hearing before Probate Judge Daniel Caruso. Lee wanted to see it done before the anniversary of the privateer's death later this year, and formed a small committee of local residents to support the cause.

Once the selectmen and Caruso granted permission, the committee also received permission from the Parks and Recreation Commission.

In order to repair the historic headstone, it was removed from the Old Burying Ground and brought to Jim Bria for restoration at his Artista studio. Three rods were inserted into the gravestone, which was then epoxyed into a granite base for stability.

When the weather gets warmer, Melanie Marks, a historic researcher and professional genealogist, said the committee will clean the gravestone with a biodegradeable solution.

Now, Marks said, the committee is looking for donations to help cover the $525 cost to repair the headstone. Any donations should be made payable to the "Town of Fairfield" and sent to: William D. Lee, c/o Fairfield Court of Probate, 725 Old Post Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost

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