The Things I Learned in a Small Town: Bedford, NY

Our story on Bedford is coming to its final chapter (for now) on Uncovering Stories.  This chapter lacks the drama or celebrity of the last two, but it makes up for it in character.  For this section is about the life of the average Bedford citizen in the 1700s and 1800s.  The stories must often left behind are the ones that we can actually learn the most from—the tales of the normal folk.

Thanks to Bedford Historical Society, it is easy to get a glimpse into life in Bedford.  The building I found most interesting was the small, one room schoolhouse that stands in the middle of the Village Green.

Bedford Schoolhouse.jpg

The one-room original schoolhouse

This single room served as the village school from 1829 to 1912.  Now, you’re probably wondering—how could this little building serve all the village’s children if Bedford was as big and important as I’ve been telling you?  Well, Bedford became a farming town.  The school was open 12 months a year, but most students only spent four to five months in school, helping their families the rest of the time.  For example, in 1842, 62 children were taught but only 9 were full-time students.  It was not until 1912 that the school had reached beyond its capacity, with a class of thirty-one students overcrowding the building.  The building became the Bedford Museum, an integral part of the town culture.  Today, the building is preserved exactly as it would have been if it was still a school building.

The second building that has many stories to tell of life in Bedford is the Bedford Presbyterian Church.

Bedford Church.jpg

The Church, as it currently stands on the Village Green

The Church pictured is not the original.  It’s not even the second version of the Church.  And if you thought the third would be the charm, you’d be wrong.  This is the fourth construction of the Church, built in 1872, and finally lasting for a while.  The second version of the Church was burned down during the burning of Bedford in the Revolution.  Despite it going through many different constructions, this Church still remains the oldest Presbyterian Church in the state and remains a large part of Bedford’s culture, today having 400 members.

To me, it is these buildings that matter most when uncovering history.  When you look at the schoolhouse, you can almost imagine that you belong that different time period.  You can almost feel the past coming to life as you look at how different the world once was.

Today, Bedford maintains its small town charm that it had back when a classroom held less than thirty students.  If you ever visit, I recommend seeing the Bedford Historical Society, located in the old General Store.

Bedford General Store.jpg

They can tell you tales for hours about the village.  While there, make sure to stop by and see Bernadette of the Red Fox Art Gallery, which is located in the same building as the Historical Society.  Her collection is absolutely beautiful and she also can tell you all about the area.  With guides like these, it is no wonder that I found Bedford to be the most magical place to uncover.

Bedford Inside Church.jpg

A view of the Church from the inside

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5 thoughts on “The Things I Learned in a Small Town: Bedford, NY

  1. How pretty these buildings are! The school house appeals to me as does the general store which takes me back to a small town called Port Gamble in Washington. It is fascinating how these remnants of another age can transport us back in time so effortlessly.

    Liked by 1 person

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