Lambert mural dedicated in Union City


UNION CITY, Ohio — The mural that has been painted on the old Fleet Wing building at 211 E. Elm St. here honored the Lambert family in a special ceremony on Friday.

The mural features three different cars: The first gasoline-engine automobile, a picture of the Union Automobile Company building and the Lambert emblem.

The first gasoline-powered engine in America was built by John William Lambert in Ohio City, Ohio, which is the auto depicted in the mural. The Union Automobile was built in the Union City Automobile Company building in Union City, Ohio, by Lambert. Also depicted were the Lambert Automobile in Union City and the Anderson Indy by Lambert.

The Lambert family had other businesses in Union City and the area. They were an active part of Union City and city government.

The first auto assembly line was in Union City, where Sham’s Recycling Plant stands today.

Steve Lambert, son of Bill Lambert and a great-grandson of John William Lambert, attended the ceremony. Also there was a 1908 Lambert automobile.

“This is pretty neat,” said Steve, when asked how he was feeling about the event. “My great-grandfather was born in the 1850s in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. He got his first patent when he was 16, and invented the gasoline-powered auto in 1890. He also had other patents, including potato and corn planters.”

Steve, also the son of Bill Lambert, former owner of Lambert’s in Ansonia, said they have taken the car up to Ohio City because that is where the first car was made.

Ted Leahey of the Union City, Indiana/Ohio, Preservation Society spoke to the crowd.

“This dedication is in honor of Lambert’s contribution to the auto industry,” he said. “This was made possible through a grant from the Community Foundation of Randolph County, Indiana. Gene Rismiller generously agreed to let us paint his building at his cost of $5,000.”

“The artist [Pamela Bliss] was painting until a half hour ago and still has more things to do on the mural,” Leahey said.

“I started painting on the mural the day Ted and I talked about it,” Bliss said. “He told me what I wanted to know and we threw ideas back and forth.”

She told the crowd that gathered that she had just come back from a project in Poland, where she and 100 others worked on a project for a movie about Vincent VanGogh entitled “Loving Vincent.” She was invited to contribute to the project as her forte is in portraiture.

“It’s the first full-feature animated film,” Bliss said. “On the film, I created over 150 frames. It takes 12 frames to make one second of film.”

Bliss said she has painted more than 50 murals in her lifetime, her first one having been completed in 1998.

Those wanting to see her art work can go to

After her presentation, Leahey presented her with the balance owed to her for working on the mural as well as “hazard pay.”

“We are very indebted to you for the work you’ve done,” Leahey said.

When it came time to speak, Steve Lambert remarked, “This is fun for me to know about Lambert cars and his different inventions. I’ve got a couple of patents, but not 600. Union City has been good to my family and so has Ansonia.”

Leahey also thanked Union City, Indiana, Mayor Bryan Conklin for providing Bliss with an apartment during her work in Union City. She is from Indianapolis.

“I also want to thank the council and administration on both sides of the village and the Preservation Society for all the work we’ve done,” Leahey concluded before dismissing the group to attend a reception in the Community Room downtown.

According to a historical account, in 1891, a year before the Duryea brothers built their first successful automobile, Lambert was driving a gasoline-powered automobile on the main street of Ohio City. In 1892, Lambert improved his one-cylinder engine and joined his father and brother at Union City, Ohio, at the old Bailey Products on Division Street.

In 1902, the Union Automobile Company was formed and production reached a schedule of 1o0 cars a month. It is estimated that some 300 Union cars were sold. In 1904, Lambert built a second factory covering 300,000 square feet at Anderson, Indiana, and by 1905, he formed the Lambert Automobile Company of Anderson and the Union Company went out of existence.

By Linda Moody

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This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to

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