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Bedford, Missouri
compiled by W. N. Bate

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There is the general story that Bedford, in Livingston County, Missouri, was named after a steamboat that went up Grand River and was wrecked on the shoals near that town. But foundation for this story has always seemed vague. According to Mr. Geo. W. Somerville, President of the Grand River Historical Society, in his article in the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune of March 5, 1957, the town was not named after the steamboat. To quote Somerville:

"The original site of the town of Bedford was first laid out and platted in 1837. The name given this town was Laborn. In 1839 a town was platted and recorded on the same site, including the same number of streets and blocks. It was given the name of Bedford. Bedford was located a few rods below a series of shoals in Grand River. It has been quite commonly accepted that Bedford derived its name from the name of a steamboat wrecked on the shoals in Grand River near its site. History does not bear this out. However, the steamboat, Bedford, did not ascend Grand River until 1840, and the town or Bedford was platted and recorded in 1839."

The dates shown in these statements by Mr. Somerville are verified by HISTORY OF CALDWELL AND LIVINGSTON COUNTIES, MISSOURI, a copy of which n the Livingston County Memorial Library at Chillicothe, Missouri. Further substantiation has now come to light. Mr. W. Boone Saunders of Gillette, Wyoming, who formerly lived at Bedford, has always understood that Bedford was named by a relative of his, by name of Dan'l G. Saunders, born in Bedford County, Virginia in 1817, and went first to Chariton County, then to Livingston, naming Bedford after his own home county in Virginia. In casting about for documentary evidence of this it was learned that a number of other individuals of the Saunders line has this same legend in mind.

In all, they are:

Mr. W. Boone Saunders, Gillette, Wyoming

Mr. Wesley Saunders, Rocky Comfort, Missouri

Mr. F. J. Saunders, 520 Oakridge Blvd., Lynchburg, Virginia

Mr. Aulus W. Saunders, 165 East 3rd Street, Oswego, New York

Miss Lockie T. Saunders, Bedford, Virginia

Sabra M. Palmer, Knightdale, North Carolina

Mr. Wesley Saunders, named above, formerly lived in Livingston County and is a grandson of the Dan'l G. Saunders that named Bedford.

Mrs. Palmer, named above, is a Saunders and furnished the following paragraph from a Saunders family record:

"Daniel Greene, Jr., went west when a young man, settled in Missouri and married a lady of that state. He was a lawyer and senator and founded the town of Bedford, Missouri, naming it in honor of his home county."

The Missouri Historical Review, July, 1912, Vol. 6, page 201, lists the name of Dan'l G. Saunders among those who arrived in Livingston County between 1833 and 1840.

In support of the Historical Review it is noted in the county courthouse records of Chariton County at Keytesville, Daniel G. Saunders executed a land purchase for one Peter D. Heisey on the date of June 14, 1842, thus verifying that he was operating in the general vicinity of Bedford in those early settlement days. Chariton County joins Livingston on the southeast corner of Livingston County and Bedford is only 5 miles inside Livingston. Mr. Saunders lived in Chillicothe, Livingston County, Missouri during the latter part of his life.

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