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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
Fact and fiction merge in stories of the early history of Bedford. As recorded by William LeBarron, a ‘Frenchman from St. Louis, the plat was identified in 1838 as located on the northeast 1/4 of section 4, a few miles below the shoals of the Grand River. A similar plat on the same site was found in 1837 for a town called Laborn. The origin of the name is commonly associated with a steamboat wrecked on the shoal, but the date of the wreck is thought to be 1840, and by 1839 the Bedford name had been recorded.
The first ferry was operated by John Custer, this being the only method of crossing the Grand until 1866 when the first bridge was erected. In early days goods were brought to Bedford via an old wagon road from Brunswick, except for a few consignments by steamboat. The river channel never proved dependable. About 1870, what is now known as the Wabash Railroad established a Bedford station a mile north of the town. In 1877 a horse railway (often a mule) connected the town and the railroad station, but this link only lasted about 5 years.
During the years Bedford grew to include a school, church, bank, hotel and miscellaneous stores; at least 2 mills were located on the river, in addition to 2 tobacco factories and a chair factory. The cyclone of 1880 was destructive of property, destroying the mill and badly damaging about 15 other buildings as well as the bridge.
Bushwhackers terrorized the area during the Civil War, presumably because of the sympathetic attitude toward the South.
By the 60’s Bedford had only one store, a filling station and garage. In 1965 a grass fire destroyed all the one-time business buildings. While the business is gone, this part of Grand River Township is still one of the richest farming areas in the county.