Alburto Bement was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, on March 18, 1861. After receiving a practical education in mechanics from 1880-1889, he entered into engineering newspaper work as a writer and editor. In 1897, he began a practice as a consulting engineer in Chicago. Widely known in the city's engineering circles, Bement became a member of the Society of Western Engineers, which had its headquarters in Chicago. From 1904 to 1905, he helped to lead the Society's push for the organization of a state geological survey in Illinois.
Bement's paper, "The Necessity for a Geological Survey of Illinois," read before the Society on February 1, 1905, and published in April 1905, set forth a strong case for a geological survey. The paper chronicled advance letters that Bement had received endorsing the survey. It also detailed the lengthy discussion that ensued among the various representatives at the meeting of engineers; mineral operators; professors from University of Illinois, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University; labor representatives; other state geological surveys; and the U.S. Geological Survey. The meeting resulted in a resolution to establish a state geological survey. The resolution was approved by the Board of Directors of the Society at a special meeting on February 11, 1905, and then sent to Governor Deneen, members of the General Assembly, and to prominent businessmen in the state. The weight of this resolution, along with the major efforts of T.C. Chamberlin, helped persuade the governor and the General Assembly to enact legislation later in 1905 to establish the Illinois State Geological Survey.
While continuing his consulting business in Chicago, Bement also took an active role in the new Survey's coal program, developed under H. Foster Bain and Frank DeWolf. At Bain's request, Bement was the first to calculate the original resources of the Illinois coal field, estimating them to be just over 201 billion tons in 1909. Bement was an active participant in matters affecting the Survey and its coal program from 1903 to 1929 and continued his active role in various engineering societies and associations in Chicago and nationally. He died in La Costa County, California, on August 13, 1946.
Honored by Morris W. Leighton.
Citation contributed by Morris W. Leighton.
Updated 05/16/2011 SLD