A Brief History of Bedford, NY

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A Brief History of Bedford, NY

Sometimes we forget to look back and admire the unique and accomplished histories of our Westchester County, NY towns. Maybe you’re considering building a new custom home and moving into the area. Or perhaps you’re renovating or building an addition on a special property here. Either way, we thought it would be interesting to take a brief look back at the history of Bedford.

Bedford

Bedford began when 22 Puritans from Stamford, CT purchased 7,673 acres from a group of Indian chiefs on December 23, 1680. One of the tribal leaders was known as Chief Katonah. In exchange for the land, Katonah and others in his tribe received cloth, blankets, and wampum valued at 45 pounds, 16 shillings, and 6 pence. This area became known as “ye Hopp Ground.”

Although the Bedford of today is considered part of New York, in 1697 it became part of Connecticut after a patent changed the boundaries, making the town a six-mile square. In 1700, the town officially became a part of New York after King William III of England made a decree to settle a boundary dispute.

During the Revolutionary War, Bedford became known as the county seat of Westchester County. It was not only the highest populated settlement in the area at the time, but was also used as a food depot for members of the Continental Army. Bedford’s unique location worked well as a central point for troops moving through the area. They could travel westward toward the Hudson River or move to the south toward Long Island Sound in only a short period of time.

In July 1779, the war was well under way and the British attacked Pound Ridge to the east. As a result, Gen. George Washington had plans to send troops to Bedford to help fortify the town. Unfortunately, these troops were diverted to help protect Connecticut’s coastal region instead. Left to its own defenses, the town was soon taken over by the British after lookouts on the hilltops failed to identify approaching troops as the enemy. Shortly thereafter, the town was unceremoniously burned to the ground. Interestingly, there was a dispute after the war as to which day the burning of Bedford actually occurred. Although it was initially thought to have happened on July 2, historians later uncovered facts pointing to July 11.

Today, Bedford is separated into three hamlets: Bedford Hills, Bedford Village, and Katonah. Each of the hamlets has its own town park, library, and volunteer fire department. A good portion of Bedford’s historical landscape has remained intact through the years. The old meetinghouse and cemetery are still in place. Because of the town’s proximity to Manhattan, a good majority of residents commute into the city for work. Bedford provides a rural setting, making it an excellent place to raise a family.