Bedford was part of the Western Reserve. Moses Cleveland surveyed the original township for the Connecticut Land Company in1797. By 1837, most of the 475 residents were clustered toward the center around Lot 46. This area petitioned the state to be self-governing and was known as the Village of Bedford.
Bedford had an abundance of good fortune. Located along the edge of the Appalachian range, it had an abundance of hardwood for manufacturing. Chair manufacturing became an early industry in Bedford. Bedford also had waterpower. One of the largest of these was the Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek. Many mill sites lined Tinkers Creek, which runs through the township.
An abundance of raw material for manufacturing and waterpower for early industry were two things that helped Bedford become established. The third key was transportation. Bedford was located on the main trade route between Cleveland, a frontier town in the Western Reserve and Pittsburgh, a well-established city known as ‘the Gateway to the West’. This route was established even before roads connected the Western Reserve with the new state capital. Bedford was a stagecoach stop along this route. The route is still one of the busiest, known as Route 14 in Ohio and Route 51 in Pennsylvania. With the advent of the railroad industry in America, Bedford again prospered. The Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad roughly followed the old stage route. Towns that were fortunate to have rail transportation thrived. Today that rail route is one of the main east-west rail corridors in the country. At one point, Bedford had the country’s fastest high-speed interurban passenger rail system.
Early industries included the McMyler Interstate Company that made the largest crane in the world- the Navy League Island crane in Philadelphia. It also made the equipment that built the Panama Canal. The Walker China Company manufactured institutional china for restaurants, schools, hospitals and the military. Ben Venue Laboratories was a pioneer in freeze-drying parenterals drugs. Today it is part of Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals where it is the largest contract freeze dryer in the world. Taylor Chair Company, the oldest operating business in the state, has called Bedford home since 1813.
Famous Bedfordites include Archibald Willard, painter of the famous painting the Spirit of ’76. Dr. Theodatus Garlick, a multifaceted individual who developed the science of artificial fish propagation, a technique is still used by the fish farming industry today. Baseball Hall of Fame great, Elmer Flick was born and lived in Bedford. Mary Cowan, nationally known criminologist was a life-long Bedford resident. This is just a few of many notable Bedford citizens who have contributed to the welfare of America.
Bedford is a community of many churches. The earliest settlers brought their strong Protestant ethics to the new land. It was a major route along the Underground Railroad and Bedford men served in the Civil War in record number.
Bedford is blessed with natural beauty. A 1910 document called it ‘Beautiful Busy Bedford’. One fifth of its land mass is protected by the county park system that preserves its pristine beauty. It is located next to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is a community of beautiful homes of every size and many historic buildings. Bedford has five structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also recently listed its business district on the National Register of Historic Places.