Bedford Massachusetts, 1890
Bedford is a beautiful agricultural town in the central part of Middlesex County, fourteen miles northwest of Boston; having Billerica on the north, the same with Burlington and Lexington on the east, the latter with Lincoln and Concord on the south, and the last, with Carlisle, on the west. Its general form is nearly a circle. It has an assessed area of 8,147, — of which 3,200 acres are woodland. The population in 1885 was 930, with 208 dwelling-houses, The villages are Bedford and West Bedford; the post-offices, the former and Bedford Springs. The three are stations on the Middlesex Central and the Boston and Lowell system of railroads. The Concord River marks the boundary on the northwest for several miles. Farley's Brook enters from the south, and, receiving several other brooks, unites with Fine Brook in the eastern part of the town, and they become the Shawsheen, which has falls with power sufficient for small mills.
The views from the elevated land in the vicinity of Fawn Lake are very attractive. The geological formation of the town is calcareous gneiss and sienite, in which are good specimens of garnet. There is a mineral spring of some celebrity on elevated ground about a mile and a half north of the central village, known as Bedford Springs.
The land is very good; and the 113 farms yielded in 1885 products to the value of $139,023. The dairy item was $44,623; vegetables, $17,766. There were 934 neat cattle and 11,689 fruit trees. The manufactures of the town consisted of boots and shoes, carriages, leather, wooden goods, and food products, and had the aggregate value of $51,980. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $816,689; the tax rate being $13 on $g1,000.
There were, in 1885, five school buildings, valued; with land, at $5,600. A town public library having nearly 5000 volumes, and the Sunday-school libraries, are the public provision for the literary appetite; while the "Bedford Bulletin" furnishes weekly the news of the region. The Unitarian church is an ancient landmark, but has received additions for adornment and for the comfort of the congregation. The Congregational church is very attractive and well furnished. The Roman Catholics also have a neat chapel; and there are flourishing Sunday schools.
The town was named for Bedford in England. Its territory came from Billerica and Concord, and its incorporation occurred September 23, 1729. A mill was built on the Shawsheen River before King Philip's War, in 1675, owned by Michael Bacon, who was allowed to have two soldiers from the garrison stationed there for its protection. The first church was organized July 15, 1730, when Rev. Nicholas Bowes was ordained pastor. The first meeting-house was built in the same year, and "seated" according to the pay of the people.
Some of Bedford's eminent names are Nathaniel D. Gould, a musical composer and publisher; Rev. Samuel H. Stearns (1801-1837), an able divine; William A. Stearns, D.D. (1805), chosen president of Amherst College in 1854.
pp. 137-138 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890