|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Jacob Bedford became the owner of what became known as Bedford Corners when he acquired land
from Henry Dusenbury in 1856 and 1858 and land from William Livingston in 1860. Jacob and his
wife, Marilla, were a farming family who came from Rushford, NY, with their only son, Ezra
Bedford. It is presumed that the house that still exists at the corners was built during these years.
During the Civil War years, Ezra was enlisted in the 85th New York Volunteers, Company D, and
served through the Peninsular Campaign. He was discharged in 1862 at the age of 24 on account of
disability. Upon returning to Cattaraugus County, Ezra worked at farming and was placed in charge
of the Dusenbury-Wheeler Sawmill at Mayville, a short distance down Dodge Creek from Bedford
Corners. On December 24, 1863, he married Ellen Deming of Genesee, Allegany County. They had
one son, Charles L., born in 1864.
Records from 1845 showed an earlier school house that served Joint District Number 7 for the
Towns of Little Genesee and Portville and was situated a short distance further northeast on Route
305 on the border of Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties. In 1864, Jacob Bedford deeded land on one
of the four corners to the Joint School District Number 7 and a new school house was built on that
Ezra Bedford was chosen as School District Clerk 1862-63 and he oversaw the building of the new
school house. Jacob and Marilla Bedford were also actively involved in the school system. Jacob
was involved in the administration, serving as Chairman in 1869 and in later years as Librarian and
Moderator in 1880 and 1891. Marilla served as Librarian for the School District from 1856 to 1870,
and was the first woman to serve on the Board of Trustees of the school.
The Bedford Family
In 1869, Ezra Bedford was selling groceries in a store in the business section of the Village of
Portville, in what was then a group of stores standing independently of one another. His occupation,
listed in 1874, was that of sawyer, accessor, and farmer and he was owner of 83 acres of land. In
January of 1876, he opened his own grocery store in the newly built Central Block of wooden stores
but fire destroyed the Block in 1885. In 1886, he bought the site which had been owned by William
F. Wheeler & Co. and placed his new store on the foundation of what had been a store owned by J.
E. Dusenbury. There, he engaged in the selling of groceries and the general trade.
In 1874, Jacob Bedford was listed as owner of 135 acres of land. In 1886, Jacob and his second
wife, Caroline Wales Bedford, deeded the land on the southwest corner of their property to Jason
Hopkins for the purpose of building a cheese factory.
Ezra Bedford was very active in the community throughout his life. According to his obituary, he
was "a man of unusual talents and ability, a civil engineer by trade." When the first fire company was
incorporated in Portville in September 1895, Ezra Bedford was one of three trustees that were
elected. In January 1896, Trustee Bedford offered a resolution at the Village Board meeting dealing
with the fact that the Village was without water for fire protection. His resolution called for an
election to be held regarding the bonding of the Village in the sum of $1200 or as much as may be
needed to furnish such a water supply.
During his lifetime, Ezra Bedford served as Justice of the Peace, Assessor for the Village of Portville,
and Commissioner of Highways. He served as an officer of H. W. Wessel Post No. 85 Grand Army
of the Republic, organized on January 20, 1879. He was also an early Master of the Portville Masonic
Lodge No. 579, organized prior to 1879.
The members of the Bedford Family were buried in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Portville. The date
of death of Jacob Bedford is not recorded. His first wife, Marilla, died in 1882. His second wife,
Caroline, died on December 24, 1925. Ezra died the following year on July 16, 1926 at age 89.
Ezra's son Charles predeceased him in 1914 at age 50.
The Bedford Family