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A Short History of the Town of Bedford
On December 23, 1680 twenty two puritans walked up the “cart path”, now known as Long Ridge Road, from Stamford, Connecticut and purchased 7,673 acres from seven Indian Chiefs. For an assortment of cloth, blankets and wampum valued at 45 pounds, 16 shillings and 6 pence, these “proprietors” became the new owners of the first purchase known as “ye Hopp Ground.” They planned their new settlement by providing for a meetinghouse, gristmill on the Mianus River and burying ground. Today's Bedford Village Green is one-third its original size but the graveyard and surrounding principal streets remain substantially as they were originally planned in 1681.
Bedford was part of Connecticut in 1697 when a patent fixed the boundaries as a six-mile square. In 1700, England's King William issued a royal degree to settle a boundary dispute and placed placing Bedford in New York, much to the disagreement of local residents, who later accepted their fate, but it is for this reason that Bedford retains its New England character.
The Town's importance grew during the Colonial period and its population was greater than towns like White Plains which are much larger today. During the revolutionary war, Bedford Village lay between the British and American lines and was considered “neutral ground.” However, on July 11, 1779, the entire village, with the exception of one house, was burned by 400 horsemen under the command of Lt. Col. Samuel Birch. Today, all that stands around the original village green was built in the years after the revolution.
The arrival of the New York Harlem railroad in the summer of 1847 brought more changes to the area. The hamlets of Bedford Station, now Bedford Hills, and Katonah both grew up as a result of the depots placed there. By 1892, the expansion of the reservoir system for New York City, had condemned Old Katonah so its villagers moved their town a mile south where Katonah is today.
Modern Bedford is composed of these three hamlets whose unique history and identity contribute to the town’s character as a whole - Bedford Village as the original settlement, Bedford Hills as the hub of railway transportation and Katonah as a planned development, moved by the necessity of progress.