History of Bedford Charter Township:
Bedford Charter Township is rich in history that goes back to the early 1800’s as settlers began moving into Michigan. Calhoun County laid out its boundaries and was fixed by statute on October 29, 1829. The Territorial Road ran through Calhoun County which benefited settlers and immigrants alike.
Although the first land purchase was actually recorded in April 1832 and a saw mill was built in the Township in 1837, the Township was not organized until 1838. Originally called Milton Township and renamed to Bedford Township, the first town meeting was held on April 1, 1838, where officers were elected. First officers were, Caleb Kirby, Supervisor, John Meachem, Clerk, and Isaac Sutton, Treasurer.
The saw mill was built just in time to provide the timbers for the homes of the new settlers. The Township grew and a post office was added in 1840, followed by an herbal and medical doctor, Doctor Doane, in 1844. By 1850 the Township saw the need for a cemetery and land was donated by one of the residents, Mr. Hutchinson. The cemetery, located with entrances on Edmonds Road and North Bedford Road, are still active today.
In 1842 a stage and mail route was established running from Battle Creek through Bedford to Hastings and by 1855 the Grist Mill was built. The Mill soon became the center of activity for the Village of Bedford and was best known for its Bedford Best and White Rose flours. This mill was registered on the Michigan Historical Site registry as number 65 on June 2, 1966. Unfortunately the mill was destroyed by a structure fire on July 8, 2014.
Bedford grew to include schools, two dry goods stores, two grocery stores, a hardware store, a wagon shop, two black smiths, two churches, and a hotel along with the saw mill, grist mill and post office. In the late 1870’s rich deposits of red clay were found south of the Village of Bedford on the farms of the Holliday families and became the location of manufactured drainage tiles.
The Village of Bedford began to expand and a development known as Level Park grew to include many farms, homes and businesses. Another area just to the South was included in this growth, known as the Village of Harmonia, which housed a large school built by missionaries and another cemetery to be used as a second location for local burials. Nothing is left of this location, except the cemetery, as most of the area was lost when Fort Custer was built. The Harmonia Cemetery is listed on the State Historical list as site number L1131A, registered on November 30, 1982.
In 1936 and 1937, the Township built two fire stations: Fire Station 1 that is located in the Village of Bedford on Bedford Road, or M-37, and Fire Station 2 that is located on South Uldriks Drive. In addition, Fire Station 1 also houses the Maintenance Department for the Township. The Maintenance Department has one full-time and one seasonal employee. When needed the Township occasionally contracts services for various jobs or hires additional part-time help to support this position. The Township Maintenance Department oversees cemeteries, buildings and parks. In 1960 Fire Station 3 was built on Morgan Road. This facility was demolished in 1997 and a new, modern facility was constructed to accommodate updated fire equipment. A state of the art facility was built in 2002 to replace Station 2 and house the Bedford Charter Township offices.
The Township became a charter township in 1982 in an effort to protect its boundaries from annexation. Other than making annexation more difficult, becoming chartered has no major effect on the daily operations of the Township.
Bedford Township has seven elected officials. The supervisor, clerk and treasurer are full-time. The four trustees attend regularly scheduled board meetings and take an active role in various committees and duties if requested by the Township Board. In addition, the Assessor and Building and Zoning Administrator are both part-time positions. The assessor places values on 4,311 parcels of property and oversees assessments passed to the Treasurer for collection. The Building and Zoning Administrator issues building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits, oversees land use and zoning, and attends to the assignment of necessary inspections, ordinance violations and zoning problems. The Building and Zoning Administrator also oversees and coordinates the Planning Commission and Board of Appeals. The building department has inspectors for all building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical permits to oversee work underway and completed within Bedford Charter Township.
A contract with the Battle Creek City police department was established in 1995 to provide police protection to the Charter Township of Bedford. Prior to this time the Township had its own police department but found it extremely expensive to maintain equipment and services. Contracting for service with the City of Battle Creek allowed the Township to continue to provide the necessary services to the residents at a reduced cost to the Township.
Due to Bedford Township’s close proximity to the City of Battle Creek, the Township has continued to grow and become a “bedroom community" with a small amount of commercial development.
Photo of Old Bedford Mill built 1837 - Bedford Charter Township - Photo by Frank Boyd