The settlement of township No. 6, range 11, was typical, in its early history, of all in the county. There was
no body of people, coming like an army with banners to possess the land. One by one, family after family, they
began the work of building a civilization, where barbarism and savagery had reigned. The home was first established.
Around the home was built the state, combined authority to conserve for all, the blessings of "life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness."
The Township of Bedford has as its southern boundary Summit County; its eastern, Solon Township; its western, Independence,
and its northern Warrensville. The principal stream is Tinker's Creek. This stream, a branch of the Cuyahoga, rises
in Portage County and flows through Solon, Bedford and Independence townships. It was given its name to preserve
the memory of Joseph Tinker, who was one of the men sent out by the Connecticut Land Company, of whom the settlers
bought their land, to survey the Western Reserve or New Connecticut, as it was then called. He was master of transportation
for the surveying parties. In the arduous discharge of his duties, he was drowned in Lake Erie off the northern
shore of the county. He had much to do with navigating the streams by reason of his official duties and hence the
appropriateness of the designation.
It may seem strange to this generation, in these days of steam and electric and gasoline transportation and power,
to speak of Bedford as located upon Tinker's Creek, but, in the wilderness, the streams were of great importance,
first as lines of transportation through the unbroken forest, and later as furnishing power for infant industries.
The overshot wheel was a great factor in the development of these little communities, in the early days, and for
many years after the forests had given way to fields of grain, orchards, and comfortable homes. And thus as we
write of the early days, even the smaller streams enter into our history as factors of vital interest.
At the present time these minor streams, with their valleys and surroundino bluffs, their glens and gorges, are
merely interesting scenery. The Bedford Glens on Tinker's Creek at the village are much admired for their native
beauty and are visited each summer by thousands.
In 1810 the township was surveyed into 100 lots. The first settler was Elijah Nobles, who came in 1813 and located
in the west part of the township, near the Independence line. He later moved to a location in the present limits
of the village, and was the first settler there. He was said to be rather shiftless and when he decided to move
to the Center, his. Independence neighbors, to the number of eighteen, turned out, built his log house and moved
him in one day.
Among the well known characters in the very early days of Bedford was Benjamin Fitch. He came in 1813 and "squatted"
on land in Independence and later moved to Bedford, where he located on his own land. He was said to be the greatest
hunter in this locality and in harmonious reciprocity, the neighbors gladly exchanged work with him, he to hunt
for them while they cleared his land and planted and gathered his crops. Among other things Fitch started the chair
industry in Bedford, which has grown to such extensive proportions.
This industry of which we will speak later has continued to be the leading industry of the town. Mr. Fitch began
making splint bottom chairs, the entire office and working force consisting of one man, himself. As proving the
excellency of his work, chairs that he made were in existence as late as 1885 and some may still be found. His
son, Andrew G. Fitch, was the second white child born in the town, a daughter became the wife of W. O. Taylor.
In 1814 came Stephen Comstock. His daughter, Sarah Comstock; born soon after their arrival, had the distinction
of being the first white person born in the township. About this time Timothy Washburn settled in the township
from the East and was the first blacksmith. His shop, of course, became the meeting place of settlers, the announcing
place of new arrivals, a news exchange, a forum.
We note the arrival of Benoni Brown in 1815, of Moses Gleeson in 1818, of Jason Shepard in 1820, John Dunham in
1821, and two families in 1822, those of Samuel Morton and Nathaniel K. Nye. By 1823, when the township was organized,
the following persons were inhabitants of this little new republic and qualified to take part in the town meeting,
in addition to those already mentioned: Daniel Benedict, Moses Higley, Jared Bark, Barzilla Burk, William Dunshee,
Laban Ingersoll, John Johnson, John Marvin, Peter Comstock, Philo Barnes, Justus Remington, George M. Payne, Luther
Willis, Ziba Willis, Daniel Gould, Hiram Spofford, Barney Cobb, Enoch Allen and Nathaniel Haynes.
These names will be suggestive to many of the readers of this history as the heads of families, whose descendants
in many walks of life, have contributed to the development of the county and state. They were not old men and if
we enter into the spirit of this history, we must think of them in the period of which we write as young, vigorous,
persistent, and above all industrious to a fault. How else could they conquer the wilderness? Many of the homes
could have had truthfully over the doorway the legend, now often seen in connection with various pranks at wedding
parties: "Just married." It is an unwritten law of The Early Settlers Association of Cleveland that under
no circumstances and on no occasion shall it be called The Old Settlers Association. The point is obvious.
The first gristmill was built by Adams and Starr in the west part of the township on Tinker's Creek. The water
power was "conserved" for its operation. We hear a great deal about the conservation of power. The early
settlers taught us our first lesson along those lines and their efforts were a great boon to the community.
The first tavern was opened in the vicinity of the gristmill by Cardee Parker. Parker's tavern became famous and
after his death his wife, familiarly called Mother Parker, continued the business. The house lost nothing of its
prestige under her management and the Parker House or Parker's Tavern continued to be a popular hostelry. In later
years Mrs. Parker continued the same business in Independence.
"We'll have nut cakes fried in b'ars grease in Canaan's happy land," was the opening line of a song that
was sung by an eccentric character of pioneer days. Naturally you must first get the bear before this consummation,
given as one of the delights of paradise, could be brought about. Wild honey was often found in quantity and was
considered a great luxury. It was particularly sought after when the shortage of sugar visited the cabin home.
The wild turkey was abundant and its flesh prized for the table, as now. Venison was, however, the standard meat
for the family use until the settlers were able to raise the domestic product.
Jason Shepard, a short distance from his house, discovered a bear in the act of getting honey from a bee tree.
He shot the bear, got a large quantity of honey, and before he reached home shot a deer and a number of wild turkeys.
For variety and quick action this was considered a very good "bag" even in those days. Shepard moved
away from the township in 1830.
The pioneers believed in large families and took the injunction to "be fruitful and multiply" as a binding
obligation. As examples of this we cite a few of the pioneer families of Bedford.
Moses Gleeson, who settled in 1818 and later moved to Independence, had seven sons and three daughters. The sons
were named Edwin, Elias, Charles, William, Moses, Sardis and Lafayette. One of the daughters, Nancy, married Dr.
Charles Morgan, who was a prominent figure in the pioneer days of Brecksville.
Stephen Robinson had eight sons, Daniel, Nathan, Isaac, Ebenezer, Ezra, Nathaniel, John and Newman.
Daniel Benedict, one of the first trustees of the township, had nine sons, Darius, Ralph, Julius, Sillock, Judson,
James, Rodolphus, Phinamber and Allison.
The selection of a name is among the first things to be done in bringing a town into being. Often the name is selected
with little thought and at other times much discussion is involved. The Indian names that figure so largely in
the area of the Northwest Territory are not so much in evidence in the township names of the Western Reserve, selected
in town meeting. General Bierce relates that at the meeting to organize the township of Bath, Summit County, a
heated discussion arose. The town had unofficially been called Hammondsburg, after a Mr. Hammond, who was a large
landowner. Mr. Hammond in some manner had offended a number of residents and when this meeting was held and the
question of the name arose, one man said: "Call it Jericho, Jerusalem, or Bath or anything but Hammondsburg."
A motion was made to select the name Bath, which was immediately carried. We might add that Hammond's Corners still
remains as the unofficial name of a locality in that township.
When the organization of township No. 6, in range 11 of Cuyahoga County was taken up, the name Bedford was chosen
at the suggestion of Daniel Benedict, in compliment to his native town in Connecticut of that name. By order of
the county commissioners, a meeting was held at the home of Prentice B. Ross, to elect township officers. This
meeting was held April 7, 1823. John Dunham, Daniel Benedict, and Aaron Shepard were chosen judges and Laban Ingersoll
and A. S. Barnum, clerks.
The election resulted in the selection of Daniel Benedict, James Orr, and Laban Ingersoll, trustees; A. S. Barnum,
clerk; John Dunham, treasurer; Peter Comstock and Darius R. Benedict, constables and Esters (assessors); Barzilla
B. Burk and Stephen Comstock, overseers of the poor; Daniel Benedict, James Orr and Barzilla B. Burk, road supervisors.
No justice of the peace was elected at this time but on the 19th day of July a special election was held and John
Dunham elected to that office. He received seventeen votes to eleven for Daniel Benedict and one for A. Shepard.
Dunham dclined to sent and August 9th of the same year another special election was held and James Orr elected
without opposition. Orr qualified and became the first justice of the peace, and the wheels of justice began to
From the organization of the township the growth was regular and constant. In 1830 there were sixty families in
the township. The gristmill and sawmill built by Adams and Starr, taken over and improved by Culverson and Boland,
was bought by Moses Gleason and did work for a large area of inhabitants. At the Center, Daniel Benedict built
a sawmill and brush factory, and in 1825, Luther Willis built mills below on Tinker's Creek, thus disproving the
statement of the poet that "The mill will not grind with the water that is past."
In 1832, a tannery was operated by Allen Robinett and in 1845 it was purchased by a firm and operated on a large
scale. A woolen factory was later operated by Stephen C. Powers and a pail factory by Lee Lord and Enoch Allen.
For some years a factory for making blinds was operated. In 1840, the firm of Comstock, Kirkham and Dickey built
a foundry. This was burned, rebuilt and burned again. The last fire was in 1868. Daniel Benedict as early as 1821
installed a carding machine in his sawmill, which could do the work of many hands, and save labor for the housewife.
The first postoffice dates from 1826 and Ziba Willis was the first postmaster. The mail was received by stage.
Mr. Willis held the position for seven years. In 1833, D. B. Dunham was appointed and served until 1842. Then in
the following order J. P. Robinson, R. D. Benedict, Leverett Tarbell, Levi Marble and Charles B. Marble were postmasters,
covering the first half century after the organization of the township.
If transportation alone is not wealth, the lack of it is a serious handicap. The first roads were brush paths with
corduroy, that is small logs laid crosswise in marshy places. Not until 1830, when the state road was built through
the township did relief from lack of adequate transportation facilities begin in earnest. Road supervisors, elected
in 1823, at the annual election first held, and thereafter, had built dirt roads, but these were heavy throughout
much of the year. About 1850, a plank road was built from Bedford to Twinsburgh in Summit County. In 1852, the
Cleveland & Pittsburg Railway came to Bedford. It ran seven miles through the township and had a station at
the Center (village). This was a great boost to the growth and prosperity of the town in more ways than one. Besides
bringing increased transportation facilities it put a large sum on the tax duplicate to aid in the upbuilding of
the schools and the conduct of public affairs. The plank road was abandoned in 1860, but about the same time the
Cleveland & Mahoning Railroad was built through the northeastern part of the township.
Cities and villages often grow into being without any definite plan of arrangement. In the development of a new
country, if some one with vision does not foresee the future, they just grow. In accounting for the crooked streets
of Boston, Massachusetts, it is said the inhabitants built houses on each side of the cow paths, that led in various
directions. Cleveland was surveyed for a city, before it was known that a city would be built As early as 1826,
three years after the township organization was perfected in Bedford, Luther Willis made the first effort to start
a village. He was the owner of considerable water power. A few houses were built on the village plan.
In 1830, Hezekiah Dunham bought a large tract of land, which he caused to be surveyed for a village, or a portion
of it. This was in 1834. The plat was made by John C. Sill. It included land south of the present village square
and west of the state road. Certain lots were set aside for town hall and church sites to be given for the purposes
named. Lots were sold and the building of the Village of Bedford began.
By an act of the General Assembly passed March 15, 1837, the "Town" of Bedford was established. An election
was held the following year and George M. Payne was elected mayor and David B. Dunham recorder. This simple organization
was allowed to lapse with the charter, and the township remained as before. In 1852 a new charter was granted to
the Village of Bedford to include the same territory as the original town, which was lots 45 and 46 and parts of
55 and 36 of the township. The records of the village before 1859 were destroyed by fire, including the record
of the organization under the new charter. The mayors, however, during the Civil war period which followed were
J. C. Cleveland, L. D. Benedict, T. H. Cannon, B. J. Wheelock and R. C. Smith, given here in the order of their
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of the village over the township organization, in the development of the
county, has been the matter of fire protection. The establishment of a fire department, usually a volunteer organization,
without men devoting their time exclusively to the work, has been the first protective measure. Frame houses are
built up in close proximity and until the village is organized even that was not provided. The volunteer fire department
in the Village of Bedford has been brought to a state of high efficiency. Its members are employed quite near the
engine house, and they respond quickly at the call of the siren, and their work in action at a fire has been highly
commended. These organizations, the only ones really possible in the smaller towns, not able to bear the expense
of a full time force, have often been the butt of jokes for their lack of efficiency and for their over efficiency.
Mark Twain describes a town where the inhabitants do not insure against fire but against the fire department. The
fire department of Bedford deserves a word of praise for its present organization and equipment.
Bedford has suffered much loss by fires and at one time the main business section was burned out. A foundry built
by Comstock, Kirkham and Dickey, built in 1840, was shortly afterwards burned. It was rebuilt and again, in 1868,
burned to the ground.
The first general store in the township was opened in 1831 by David B. Dunham at the Center (village). Business
increased with the growth of the community and a new store was built by Mr. Dunham. This was destroyed by fire
The first public house in the village was opened in 1829 by Enoch Allen.
The first physician was Dr. J. M. Turner, who came in 1828 and remained five years. Dr. Charles Goodrich came in
1830 and two years later died of cholera. Dr. D. G. Streator was a well known character of the early days. He began
practice in the village in 1845 and died in 1878.
The first newspaper published in the town was started in 1838. It was called The Bedford Intelligencer. It was
a small sheet devoted to local news and was democratic in politics. It ceased publication in 1843.
Of the schools of Bedford no record remains prior to 1840. The little red schoolhouses located in the various school
districts of the township were the universities supplied for the schooling of the children of the settlers. Like
the township, the little red school is passing. With all its faults it had its remarkable qualities. It sent forth
into the world many strong characters whose education came from its system of individual training. It was a university.
All in the same room, the little tot in the primer was listening to the recitations of the classes above him and
absorbing bits of history, geography, biography, etc. He heard the reading of choice selections in literature,
the comments of the teacher, and noted the inspiring things for future reference. This continued until he finally
advanced to be an actor on the stage he had so long reviewed. So it was in other classes. Again, the scholar in
the advanced classes was constantly Teviewing what he had gone over by hearing, apart from his studying, the mistakes
made and corrected in those recitations below. The little red schoolhouse was a great builder.
Among the known teachers of Bedford in the early days were Miss Barnes, H. L. Sill, C. Ruggles, R. Root, W. Johnson,
D. Baldwin, M. Smith, Polly Allen, Betsy Predner, Mary Ann Sill, Laura Gould, Mary McCartney, Mariah Peck and L.
Ruggles. In 1848 there were eleven school districts in the township, with a schoolhouse and teacher in each. The
total school fund amounted to $665.40. At the present time, exclusive of the Village of Maple Heights, which was
formed from the Township of Bedford, there are four school buildings, with a total enrollment of 1,300 pupils and
total school expense of $185,000. The district schoolhouses have been abandoned. Four attractive, rapid and commodious
busses bring all pupils who live beyond a certain distance away to the three ward or grade schools and the high
The high school building, recently built, is one of the finest in the county. It stands on an eminence with an
attractive view all about and around it. It cost, including the site, half a million of dollars. It has a cafeteria,
sewing room, a manual training department, etc. The schools of Bedford employ fifty teachers, including the superintendent,
two supervisors and the principal of the high school. A. E. Moody, the present capable superintendent, has his
office at the new high school building. The principal of the high school is O. C. Irwin.
Leading up to the present complete organization of the schools, from the district school to the present climax,
in the new high school with its up to date equipment, we gather some intervening history. The Bedford News Register,
edited by Mrs. John Freeman, in its High School Edition of February 2, 1922, and which contains an account of the
dedication of the new building, collates a fund of information. Articles by Azora Hubbell Parker, Amelia Harrington
McCaughey, O. K. Wheelock, Margaret Ennis, May Tarbell, Daisy Anderson, Maurice G. Hammond, Mrs. George Flickinger,
Helen Palmer Hubbard, Theodore Blake, Edna Gates Handyside and others are full of interesting reminiscences of
Between the district schools and the first graded school came a number of private schools. These were held in private
houses as a rule. One was conducted in the basement of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The first public school
building at the village stood on the square more than seventy years ago. Then came the red schoolhouse on the hill.
We quote from the article of Mrs. Parker: "The old red building stood in unadorned simplicity 'four square'
to every wind that blew. * * * The spacious ground about the building was alive at noon and recesses with merry
boys and girls at play. The favorite games of the girls in summer were Pomp Pomp Pull Away, Crack the Whip and
Old Witch. The boys played Two Old Cat, Base Ball (not the present game) and Ante Ante Over. In winter, Fox and
Geese was one of the sports and the steep hill at the rear was a fine place for coasting. The fortunate boy with
a sled would glide merrily down the hill with his 'best girl' in front, while others found it equally exciting
to coast down on a board, and some of the more daring would take the swift slide on their feet.
"There was no grading in the school in those days, but the pupils were incited to strenuous effort by the
offer of prizes for scholarship and deportment. Jimmie Mathews won a Webster's Unabridged Dictionary under the
tuition of R. C. Smith Reading, writing and spelling received special attention. Rienzi's address to the Romans
and Patrick Henry's speech before the Virginia Convention were rendered with all the fervor of impassioned orators.
'The Death of Little Nell' would be read with trembling voice and tearful eye. A critic was often appointed to
note the errors in deportment and speech during the day and his observations read at the close of school. This
was a spur to good behavior and correct language. To be called one of the teacher's 'wheel horses' was an honor
to make one swell with pride. Likewise a blunder in pronunciation or a stupid recitation sunk one in the depths
of humiliation. * * * Debating societies were formed and school papers sparkled with wit and were embellished with
poetry. School exhibitions were given which had all the snap and dramatic enthusiasm of the modern plays. Some
of the teachers who followed specialized in some particulars. Wahoub will be remembered by the songs he taught
in school. 'Fairy Moonlight,' Rain on the Roof,' and 'Up with the Lark in the Morning' still ring their refrain
in the memory of the few old boys and girls of 'Ye Olden Time.' Harrison Flick, who afterwards became distinguished
in law and politics, was popular not only in being a good teacher but in being a good sport with the boys in all
their games on the school ground.
"Among the ladies who taught in the old schoolhouse was Isabel Cuthbertson Ennis, who was a person of unusual
refinement and strength of character. She stimulated not only the mental but the moral growth of the pupils. Julia
Gould Clapp was another teacher who is remembered for her vivid and vigorous personality and for her efforts to
stimulate a taste for literature and composition.
"Among the later teachers of conspicuous characteristics was R. C. Smith. He was noted for thoroughness,
discipline and grammatical expression. 'Not how much, but how well' was his motto. The last to teach in the old
school building was Prof. O. C. Hubbell. Cooperation and good fellowship made school work a pleasure under his
"In 1875 the new building was dedicated by B. A. Hinsdale of Hiram College. Dr. J. P. Robison, of ancient
fame, turned over the keys to O. C. Hubbell, the teacher. The old building was used until the new one was completed.
Standing in the background, its days numbered, it was sold under the hammer for fifty dollars.
"It remained for Prof. C. D. Hubbell, whose work began in the brick building on Washington Street at the head
of Monroe Street, to organize the work into a graded school in 1881. There were two grade teachers the first year,
Minnie Robison (Robinette) and Cora Alexander (Orchard). It was in 1885 when the first class to be called high
school seniors prepared themselves for the first commencement exercises in the Bedford schools. The graduating
class consisted of five members, Amelia Harrington, Etta Conant, Hattie Alexander, O. K. Wheelock and B J Sawyer.
This commencement was an auspicious occasion and the whole town turned out. The superintendent at this time was
C. D. Hubbell and the school board consisted of the president, J. W. Derthick; clerk, George Whitlam; treasurer,
A. J. Hensey; I. M. Harrington, John Hickman and A K Burroughs. The teachers at this time were Flora Stevenson
(Freeman), Ida Wells and Julia Benedict (Collins)."
We quote from Mrs. May C. Whitaker, nee Tarbell, now president of The Cleveland Woman's Press Club: "My educational
career began with a term in the little red schoolhouse, which stood where the town hall now stands. The schoolhouse
was about the size of a prosperous farmer's smokehouse and was built of red brick. Miss Hettie Culver was the teacher.
My only memory is of the day when Dora Robinson, Carrie Comstock and myself dared to walk barefooted from our homes
across the square to the school. It was very hot and the dust was fine and soothing to our feet, but Miss Culver
was shocked * * * My big brother L. P. was disagreeable when I entered high school. He magnified my mistakes and
made them public, all to prove that I was too young to be there. It was not the last shock his generation has suffered
because of the advance of woman in education."
The present members of the Board of Education are William Wallace, president; Bruce Taylor, vice president; A.
B. Blackman, clerk; Justin Griess, H. M. Molder, J. Burkett. From the establishing of the first graded school the
superintendents have been C. D. Hubbell, J. L. Wright, J. C. Petir, H. L. Rawdon, O. C. Kurtz and the present superintendent,
A. E. Moody.
Closely allied with the schools, as encouraging the study of music therein, and creating also in the community
a taste for good music, has been The Bedford Music Club. The founder and first president was Mrs. John Freeman,
the present editor of The Bedford News Register. This club was organized in 1899 and was first called The Ladies'
Musical Club. The meetings are held in private houses, where programmes are studied. Its concerts are held in the
auditorium of the high school. Its presidents have been Mrs. John Freeman, Mrs. Alfred J. Webb, Mrs. Oliver M.
Smith, Miss Maude C. Ingersoll, Miss Mary C. Burroughs, Mrs. Hugh L. Norton, now deceased, Mrs. Charles R. Hinchman,
Mrs. William B. Yost, Miss Anna Estella Maxseiner, Mrs. Bayard T. Wright, Mrs. William Wallace, Mrs. Douglas P.
Handyside and Miss Trissa Hubbard, the present president.
The settlers recognized both the law of man and the law of God. While duly organizing for the establishing of civil
local government that all differences should be ironed out by the sober judgment of the law, whose principles should
be in accordance with divine law, they yet gave attention to the church as did their New England forbears. Denominationalism
was a strong characteristic. The road to heaven was a denominational highway. Sermons were largely devoted to sectarian
discussions. Revivals were frequent and the number of converts depended much upon the interest created in certain
forms of worship and methods of baptism. No Billy Sunday, in those days, held meetings devoid of or apart from
the question of denomination.
The oldest church in Bedford, dating from its first inception, was the Methodist Episcopal. As far back as 1830,
the Rev. John Crawford, a circuit rider, whose field of operations was from Hudson to Cleveland, along the east
side of the Cuyahoga River, stopped off at Bedford. He met Nathaniel Haynes, the village or township blacksmith,
who had been holding some religious meetings, getting together those of the Methodist faith, like himself. Reverend
Crawford organized them into a church. There were seven original members, Nathaniel Haynes and wife, Abraham Turner,
wife and two daughters and Mrs. Betsy Fitch. Soon after Mr. Fitch, Joseph Skinner, David Skinner, and Daniel Baldwin
were taken in as members. The first meetings were held in a schoolhouse and were conducted by circuit riders. The
first regular ministers were Ira Eddy and William F. Day. The meetings of the church, as its numbers increased,
were later held in a building erected by Mrs. Fanny Willis. For some time this building was the meeting place of
all the religious denominations, but was finally given to the Methodist Church on the condition that it be moved
to another lot. Hezekiah Dunham then gave the church a lot on the corner of Columbus and Washington streets and
here the building was moved in 1849. In 1885, the present structure at the corner of Main and North streets, was
built. The present minister is Rev. S. F. Ross.
The Church of Christ was organized in 1832 and its house of worship built in 1838. Like the Methodist Church, it
had no settled pastor for some time, the elders and occasionally a traveling evangelist officiating. The first
regular pastor was Rev. J. O. Beardsley, who afterwards went to Jamaica, as a missionary. This church grew in numbers
and became one of the largest in the county, becoming a sort of parent church. No less than fifty churches have
been organized in different sections as offshoots of the Bedford Church of Christ. Among those who have been pastors
of the church since its organization, are many, whose names are familiar to the older residents of the county.
J. Harrison Jones, Lathrop Cooley, W. A. Knight, and E. C. Harris, with Reverend attached to their names, are among
The First Baptist Church of Bedford was organized in 1854 and until the present church was built occupied a building,
now torn down, near the site of the church now occupied. The old structure was a frame building while the new one
is built of brick, attractive in appearance, a modern building with a large auditorium, having a seating capacity
of 400 and a Sunday school assembly room capable of seating 100 more. The new building, however attractive, cannot
divert the minds of the older residents, who are proud of the fact of their attendance, in worship, in the old.
The new church was built in 1893. Among the early members of the church we note Newman Robinson, George Cowin,
Mrs. Sheets, Mrs. Burns, Mrs. Ruth and Anne Hunt, and as pastor, Rev. Mr. Tallhurst.
Of later date than the churches mentioned comes the organization of the Christian Science Church in Bedford. Its
history runs like this: Mrs. Kate Senter Reid first called a meeting at her home of those interested, with a view
to holding meetings in Bedford, March 21, 1916. These meetings continued at her home until 1918, when the place
of meeting was changed to the Knights of Pythias hall. Later, this group of people, which had formed themselves
into a society, bought a house on Grace Street, which they remodeled for their use. In this building their services
are now held. There is a Sunday school and reading room, and the society has a membership of twenty five.
In the section of Bedford Township, annexed to the village in 1922, and now a part thereof, a splendid parochial
school building has been erected. It is located in the vicinity of the McMyler Interstate Company. The building
is of Spanish architecture, surrounded by large pleasant grounds and is equipped with attractive and suitable furniture
for its work. This building was erected in 1912 and the school opened with fifty pupils. It now has doubled in
numbers, having 100 pupils, and is under the direction of Dr. John R. Hagan, who was a classmate of Father Frey,
secretary to the bishop of this diocese, Bishop Schrembs.
In view of the innumerable accidents in our streets, due to the automobile traffic, it may be of interest to recount
the enterprise of one of Bedford's citizens in the early years. Squire Dunham was the first eliminator of grade
crossings. His farm extended to Washington Street and over it he built a bridge for a driveway and for the passage
of his cattle and other stock. Squire Dunham will be remembered as one of the first officers of the township at
its organization in 1823. Says H. W. Hammond in a reminiscent article about early Bedford: "When Squire Dunham
laid out Dunham Street, he sold the lot at the corner of said street and Wade Street to my grandfather, John Hammond,
who built a home there. In the deed was an agreement that Dunham should have the right of way over this bridge
and the privilege of relaying the driveway and repairing the bridge. Few people living in Bedford today can remember
the old bridge under which we used to drive." Mr. Hammond adds: "Dear old Bedford! I think I could fill
a ream of paper telling about the good old days, the old boys and all the good people, who lived in our village."
Of the fraternal orders in Bedford, Masonry holds a large place. Bedford Lodge No. 375, Free and Accepted Masons,
has a history dating back to the close of the Civil war. Its dispensation was granted October 17, 1866 and its
charter October 16, 1867. The charter members, all of whom are now dead, were J. B. Hains, C. N. Hamlin, A. A.
Benedict, R. C. Smith, W. H. Sawyer, Levi Case, Enoch Allen, A. J. Wells, J. J. Brittan, S. S. Peck, L. C. Mains,
Samuel Patrick, E. Cowles, and H. H. Palmer. It has a present membership of 294. The first Master was J. B. Hains,
and the present presiding officer is H. W. Davis. A Past Masters' Association of this lodge was organized in 1920
and now has ten members. John Freeman is its president. Summit Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, was organized in Twinsburgh
in 1856 and removed to Bedford in 1886. It has a Past High Priests' Association of ten members, of which J. B.
Kenyon is president, and has at present 206 members. Bedford Chapter Order of the Eastern Star was organized in
1915 and now has 193 members. Mrs. Alice P. Green is Worthy Matron and Miss Laura S. Berena, secretary. Its first
Worthy Matron was Mrs. Eliza B. L. Tinker.
Among the other fraternal orders having lodges in Bedford are Royal Dunham Post of the Grand Army of the Republic,
Golden Rod Lodge Knights of Pythias, Winchester Circle No. 46, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic. A lodge
of the Independent Order of Foresters, Unity Hive No. 428 Ladies of the Maccabees, Tent No. 562 Knights of the
Maccabees, Dewey Camp No. 4099 Modern Woodmen of America, a lodge of the Woodmen of the World, and Prosperity Lodge
No. 4774 Royal Neighbors of Prosperity.
The Bedford Board of Trade has been for some years a vital factor in the prosperity of the town. It had in 1912,
when it published a booklet called "Beautiful Busy Bedford," a membership of seventy six, and its officers
were O. K. Wheelock, president; O. W. Kurtz and H. E. Lowry, vice presidents; R. F. Thomas, secretary; C. J. Wheeler,
treasurer; P. D. Metzger, John Freeman and E. H. Collins, trustees. Its first secretary was H. A. Adams.
In writing of industrial Bedford, first in point of interest comes the chair industry. Bedford chairs are known
over the world. We have referred to the beginning, when Benjamin Fitch, long before the township was organized,
began making splint bottom chairs. The first advance of primitive man toward civilization has been marked by getting
him up from the ground into a chair. The Indians left no chairs and used none. Chairs are distinctly a product
of advancement. W. O. Taylor, in 1833, worked with Benjamin Fitch making chairs. All the details are not known
to history but in due time he married his daughter. This industrial romance advanced the chair industry. In 1844,
Mr. Taylor began the manufacture of chairs on his own account as W. O. Taylor and Sons. This firm developed into
the Taylor Chair Company, in whose chairs "all the world is rocking." Benjamin Fitch made many improvements
and invented devices for saving labor in the manufacture. His descendants followed his example. In 1865, Vincent
A. Taylor, Joseph F. and William E. Taylor, were associated with their father, W. O. Taylor, in the factory. This
continued for some years. As early as 1856, The Taylor Chair Company won the medal at the State Fair in Columbus.
In 1876, this company won the "Gold Medal" at the World's Fair in Philadelphia. The certificate of award
is preserved in the Taylor family. The award was made for durability, cheapness, and compactness. In 1869 the factory
was burned but it was immediately rebuilt, although from lack of adequate insurance, the loss was heavy. Vincent
A. Taylor, president of the company, has directed the manufacture to permanent success by specializing in many
lines. More than 60,000 "comfortable rockers" have been manufactured and marketed in a single year. It
has been said that this is the largest, exclusive, high grade, rocker plant in the world. Mahogany comes to this
plant in the log from Cuba, and is sawed into lumber in its own mills and then made into rockers, all the work
being done in this factory. We will speak of Mr. Vincent A. Taylor later, but we are not through with the chair
industry in Bedford.
More than seventy years ago another chair industry began in Bedford. It is now known as the B. L. Marble Chair
Company. Like the Taylor Company, it began in a small way. In 1851 it employed five men. Today it employs some
250 men, and like the Taylor Company specializes in certain lines. The two factories give employment to over 500
workmen. From 1851 it was B. J. Wheelock, then Wheelock and Wright, then another firm, M. A. Purdy and Son, then
in 1867 united under the name of The Bedford Chair Company, then Marble and Shattuck, then The B. L. Marble Chair
Company. Success has attended these men bemused of devoted service. B. L Marble and A. L. Shattuck have devoted
each a lifetime to the improvement in the manufacture of chairs. As the public became more discriminating, this
company called art to its aid and combined it with economic handling of material and scientific methods of shipping
the finished product. Designers were constantly employed but before a particular design was placed upon the market
the public were called as a jury to decide. Samples were placed on sale and the merits decided upon by a practical
test. It was not what ought to suit the public but what actually did suit that counted. Marble chairs are found
in the furnishings of statehouses and government buildings in many parts of the country. Mr. B. L. Marble, after
a lifetime devoted to this industry, has retired from active participation, but has a son, L. L. Marble, who is
active in the company. From "Beautiful Busy Bedford" we quote: "The development of the chair industry
in Bedford reads like a romance, and is full of experiences of deepest interest to all. Ever since the days of
the old log cabin and open hearth, with grandmother's high backed rocker, has the work of building Bedford chairs
gone on, until it is today a splendid industry in the permanent building of Bedford."
Of the more recent industries of Bedford there is The Franklin Oil and Gas Company, The Best Foundry Company,
The McMyler Interstate Company and The Mason Tire and Rubber Company. The Best Foundry Company manufactures stove
castings for a variety of makes and for some of the largest stove manufactories in the world. In 1905, the first
finished product was turned out. By 1912, it was said to be the largest foundry of this kind in the world, employing
600 men, and with an annual pay roll of $500,000. The general manager, Mr. Henry M. Molder, is a prominent figure
in the industrial life of the town. The McMyler Interstate Company was incorporated in 1902, located in Cleveland
and later removed to Bedford. Its products are structural steel locomotive cranes and other special machinery.
This company has placed extensive installations in many parts of the world, including England. Japan, and Australia.
It but recently constructed the largest locomotive crane in the world and placed it in the League Island Navy Yard
at Phiiadelphia. One more industry should be mentioned, that of the Bedford China Company. This is of recent establishment
but is a factor in the industrial life of, the town.
At present Bedford has two newspapers, The Bedford News Register, which is in its twentieth year, edited by Mrs.
John Freeman, and The Bedford Herald, conducted by C. P. Smith, son of R. C. Smith, ref erred to in connection
with the school history of the town. On February 2, 1922, The News Register published a High School Edition, a
very creditable number, which reflected credit on the editor. Mrs. Freeman. The Herald has but recently started
and its future is to be determined.
The present officers of the Village of Bedford are mayor, N. Ray Carroll, clerk, E. L. Allen; treasurer, W. O.
Cameron; marshal, Fred M. Clampitt; police justice, John A. Flick; solicitor, L. R. Landf ear; city. engineer,
B. T. Wright; councilmen, J. A. Squire, L. L. Horton, Fred Oldham, W. C. Warren, E. R. Stillwell, W. L. Avery.
In writing of the growth and development of Bedford I am reminded of the lines of Tennyson:
"We rise on stepping stones of Our dead selves to better things."
In 1866, a Rolling Mill Association, with a large capital, was formed and this capital was largely subscribed by
Bedford citizens. A plant was erected and business started but after a short but precarious existence, it was removed,
the Bedford plant dismantled, and the stockholders left with valueless certificates. This was a loss to the town
in many ways.
The care of the sick and disabled has not been neglected in the progress upward from the log house era. The town
has a General Hospital, located on North Street, with a corps of trained nurses and a medical staff, composed of
Dr. R. S. Hubbard, Dr. W. H. Wycoff, Dr. W. F. Golling and Dr. R. R. Seidel.
The Bedford Bank of The Cleveland Trust Company, with George C. Flickinger, as manager, furnishes the general banking
facilities, while The Bedford Savings and Loan Company, organized under the loan company laws, encourages the building
of homes by construction loans. We must mention The American Legion Post, No. 350, Frank G. Hoeffler, post commander,
by soldiers of the World war; The American Legion Auxiliary, president, Mrs. G. L. Bartlett; the Boy Scouts, F.
C. Kramer, scout master; The Pythian Sisters, Mrs. Fern Pinnell, M. E. C.; D'Annunzio Lodge, Bedford Retail Merchants'
Association; The Ladies Benefit Association of the Maccabees, commander, Mrs. Lettie Avery; The Federated Parent
Teachers Club; The Woman's Athletic Association, president, Mrs. H. W. Davis, and the Volunteer Fire Department,
of which reference has already been made, with C. S. Brown, as chief.
Among the new buildings of note and now under construction that of the Church of Christ on North Street should
be mentioned. The corner stone was laid October 22, 1922. Under it were placed, as announced by Judge John A. Flick
at the service, a bible, which had belonged to Squire Charles A. Ennis, a souvenir plate commemorating the seventy
fifth anniversary of the old church, which had belonged to Mrs. Ellen Nelson Marble, late wife of Mr. B. L. Marble,
church and Sunday school publications, copies of The Bedford News Register and the Bedford Herald, Bedford Music
Club Year Book, Hiram College Year Book, and envelopes containing names of members of various church organizations.
The speaker of the day, Dr. Arthur J. Culler, dean of Hiram College, gave an historical sketch of the church known
as "Christian" or "Disciples of Christ." Doctor Culler spoke for the restoration of the rural
church and deprecated the practice of the members staying at home on Sunday and sitting by the roadside and selling
fruit to passing autoists. He referred to the fact that James A. Garfield, who was a student at Hiram College,
when it was called Hiram Eclectic Institute, had spoken before the Bedford Church.
Historical incidents are not wanting in the early history of Bedford. Our local histories all give in detail the
hanging of John O'Mic in 1812. This, the first execution in the county, is important as showing the reign of the
civil law and the sober execution of criminal justice. O'Mic was an Indian, who killed two trappers, and was tried
and executed at Cleveland in that year. After the murder, O'Mic hid for several days in the deep woods along Tinker's
Creek. It was near the A. B. C. Railway bridge or near where that crosses the creek in Bedford, that he was finally
captured by one of his tribe.
It is related that in 1813, during the War of 1812, a band of British soldiers encamped on Euclid Creek, near Cleveland,
and two of their number, out on a foraging expedition, wandered to the home of Elijah Nobles, already referred
to as the first settler in Bedford. He took them in and kept them over night, then piloted them to their camp,
telling them he would shoot them if they came back. This story is more believable as the incident probably occurred
after the victory of Commodore Perry on Lake Erie. Before that time the settlers were in fear and trembling. That
victory, although the war did not end until 1814, put courage in the hearts of the settlers.
When the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway was completed it was dedicated by an excursion over the line.
A number stopped off at Bedford, including the governor and other state officials, to view the glen, and three
of the number were left behind, when the train pulled out. These were taken in a row boat to Cleveland, by way
of Tinker's Creek and the Cuyahoga River.
P. T. Barnum was a great advertiser and when he opened his first show in Cleveland, he gave ten free tickets to
prominent people of Bedford. Train service not being available and not wishing to lose the benefits conferred on
them, the donees went to Cleveland on a hand car. This car was stolen during the evening, and the delegation, manfully,
walked home after the show.
Bedford was a safe station on the Underground Railway in slavery days. The woods, glens, and homes furnished an
excellent hiding place for refugees, before their final entrance into Canada. It is related that although most
of the people in the town knew of the presence, from time to time, of runaway slaves, their presence was never
We have referred to "Mother Parker's" Tavern, and its popularity in the early days. It is related that
one night two travelers came to the hostelry and engaged lodgings, the one a fine looking, large man, and the other
quite small, apparently a boy. They left early without paying for their lodging, escaping the vigilant eye of "Mother
Parker." Some months later she received a letter enclosing several times the amount, which she had charged
on the books to "lost." In the letter was a confession that her visitors were an exiled prince and his
young bride from one of the leading countries of Europe. Who this scion of royalty was she never would tell, as
the letter in terms requested that the secret of the pair be kept from the public. Dame rumor, however, had it
that the prince became, later, the ruling monarch of an empire across the seas.
In 1915, the Village and Township of Maple Heights was formed from the Township of Bedford. The township is merely
a judicial township, having a justice of the peace. Its territory the same as the village, is entirely separate
from the original township. Bedford Township includes the village, and taxes are assessed at a different rate outside
the village, but the work is equitably divided. The township cares for the poor, the township roads, outside of
the village, and little else. The schools are united and pupils transported, as we have described. Maple Heights
being entirely separate has its own school system. It had in its schools in 1920, 350 pupils, and employed ten
teachers, and the total school expense was $46,670. The schools have now enrolled 700 pupils, and there are twenty
two teachers employed. The budget for school expenses has reached the sum of $111,575. Harry L. Peets, Mabel Lawrence,
William Harbkersman, Mary Thornfield and L. O. Snyder constitute the Board of Education.
At the organization of the village in 1915, the following officers were elected: Mayor, W. E. Lambert, clerk, C.
G. Holtz. The present officers are: Mayor, C. G. Holtz; clerk, F. J. Vasek; treasurer, F. Holtz; marshal, L. Seeley;
police judge, F. H. Levy; street commissioner, Joe Miller; building inspector, C. H. Fortenbaugh; justice of the
peace of Maple Heights Township, F. H. Levy. The Village Council, which meets the first and third Wednesday of
each month, consists of G. W. Caldwell, W. A. Koring, P. Raimer, A. G. Beitt, C. W. Buettner, and E. F. Borges.
In 1921, a race track with the necessary buildings was constructed here by the Ohio State Jockey Club, and the
Maple Heights races are an annual event, attended by large numbers. This has done much to advertise the village
and contribute to its activities. As an evidence that the new village is functioning as an up to date municipality,
we give the report of a session of the Police Court as printed in the Bedford Herald of November 2, 1922: "The
usual number of violators of the law and ordinances were gathered in by the police force (Marshal Seeley) and were
given an opportunity to explain to his honor. D. M. Sherman, of Cleveland, was arraigned and plead guilty to having
violated the speed ordinance. Five dollars and costs! C. J. Shelly, of Cleveland, owned to having fractured the
speed ordinance, passed to regulate the speed of motor driven vehicles, but, upon extenuating circumstances being
shown, was permitted to depart upon payment of costs. Mrs. C. Eames, of East Cleveland, blushingly admitted that
she was guilty of violating the speed ordinance of Maple Heights. The Court was moved by the beauty and grace of
the prisoner and her evident distress, because of her fault, and assessed her the very light fine of five dollars
and costs. Thomas Rini, of Cleveland, also entered a plea of guilty to the charge of speeding and was requested
to donate to the Village of Maple Heights the sum of five dollars and costs. W. J. Fritz, of Euclid Avenue, Cleveland,
was glad to plead guilty to the same charge and escape with a fine of five dollars and costs. J. Dynwozynski of
Foreman Avenue, Cleveland, plead guilty to the same charge, whereabouts His Honor, in pity, cut his fine to five
dollars and costs. Another speedster, J. R. Gammeter, of Akron, explained fluently and at great length, that motorists
in Akron think nothing of driving at the rate of fifty or sixty miles an hour. His Honor was equally confidential
and carefully explained to Mr: G., that, after leaving Akron, the speed limit is gradually reduced until, at Maple
Heights, twenty miles is the limit. To impress this fact more firmly upon the mind of Mr. G., His Honor inflicted
a fine of five dollars and costs."
We have referred to the "Underground Railway" in the period preceding the Civil war, with Bedford as
a station. It was peculiar in this, that the law violators were people of prominence and, except in this particular,
law abiding. The institution of slavery seemed so obnoxious that a resort to the "higher law" was adopted
without disturbing the conscience. Now comes in this day a violation of law by people otherwise law abiding and
of the highest character. Rapid transit by means of motor cars becomes so fascinating that innumerable citizens
of good repute are daily arrested, tried and sentenced. Oftentimes workhouse and jail sentences are inflicted.
This is a historic fact and the day in the Police Court of Maple Heights Village is given merely to reflect that
fact without suggesting what the future historian may find in connection with the wonderful progress from the days
of the log cabin and the ox team.
Maple Heights, its territory, formed from the original number 6, range 11 of townships as surveyed by the surveyors
headed by Moses Cleveland, is but seven years old, but it has attractive dwellings, fine schools and an enterprising
Bedford Township, a farming territory, remains in lessened area and with its organization intact. The present officers
are: Trustees, George A. Laing, C. W. J. Alexander and George Forbes; clerk, E. J. Caskey; township road superintendent,
Robert Cowan. It has furnished public men of prominence in public affairs. Vincent A. Taylor served as a member
of Congress in 1891 and 1892. Alfred W. Lamson, an able jurist, was common pleas judge for many years. Clark Alexander
and Pierce D. Metzger served each as county commissioner, Mr. Metzger having served previously as a member of the
General Assembly of Ohio. Dr. R. S. Hubbard was county treasurer for two terms, this being the limit under the
law. it C. Smith, Samuel Patrick and C. D. Hubbell served for many years as county school examiners. Other of Bedford
citizens are as deserving of mention, but this will show in what different lines the citizens of Bedford have served
the county, the state and the nation. In the Civil war, in the Spanish-American war, and in the World war against
central Europe, her citizens were not found wanting. Dunham Post, of the Grand Army of the Republic, and the American
Legion Post, survivors of the War of 1860 and of the War of 1914, reflect her service to the nation.