Thomas J. Bedford

Born: March 7, 1826, in Breckinridge County, Kentucky

Died: September 26, 1906, Los Angeles, California

Thomas Jefferson Bedford’s father was John Bedford; his mother was Elizabeth Howard Bedford. He was the second of four brothers: William Howard, Alexander Marshall, and John Coleman. He had two sisters Martha Page and Lucy Ann Bedford.

In 1830 the Bedfords moved to Mead County, Kentucky, about eight miles from Brandenburg. After the death of their parents, the Bedford children went to live with their aunt Elizabeth Bedford Russell and her husband Henry Russell in the old Bedford homestead near Bloomfield, Nelson County, Kentucky.

In 1848, Thomas Bedford went into Iowa from St. Joseph to establish a small trading post at a site in or near the present limits of Bedford, Iowa. In his store, Thomas handled mail for the early settlers who were his customers and for the few traders and travelers who came his way. Although Thomas was not a regularly appointed postmaster, for a time he handled the mail addressed in care of "Bedford's Trading Post." This he did as an accommodation for his patrons long before the first U.S. post office was established. "Bedfords Store and Trading Post" became shortened to just "Bedford."

In October 1849 Thomas went to the gold region of California where he went into business with Nathan Able, a blacksmith, in Sacramento. In 1850 he returned from California and bought a store in St. Joseph, Missouri, which he sold in a couple of weeks for an increase of $2500. He married Martha A. Stewart, July 8, 1851, in residence of William H. Bedford, St. Joseph, Missouri. With has brother, William H. Bedford, and their families Thomas left St. Joseph the second week in May 1852 on the wagon train of Elias H. Perry again bound for California.

He purchased a farm on the outskirts of Benicia, California, in the early 1850s. After selling the farm in 1858, he went into 1859 in the livery and feed business in Benicia. He evidently sold his interest in this business because in the Census of 1860 his occupation was listed as Livery Stable Keeper.

On April 23, 1861, Thomas Bedford was the first rider to carry the Pony Express mail overland from Benicia to Oakland.

In May 1861 moved with family to Carson City, Nevada Territory. In 1862, with Mark L. McDonald, built a toll road between Eagle Valley and Virginia City. In 1862 listed as a resident of Carson City, Nevada Territory, as a teamster on A.D. Treadway's Ranch located on north side of Carson City. In 1863 Bedford & Levy, wholesale wines & liquors, listed on King near Carson, Carson City. On November 2, 1863, dissolved Co-partnership of Bedford & Levy. In 1864, as a cattleman living in Austin, paid taxes on slaughtered livestock. October 1865 found Thomas acting as Special Deputy to Sheriff of Carson City. In May 1866 he was thinking of running for sheriff in Carson City in the fall, however, the election returns for Ormsby County reported in the Territorial Enterprise, November 9, 1866, did not list Thomas Bedford. On February 11, 1868, a warrant in bankruptcy issued against the estate of Thomas J. Bedford.

In 1869 (age 43) he listed his occupation as Trader, living in Temescal Township, San Bernardino County, California. In February 1869, Thomas purchased, with William G. Wayman, the Butterfield Stage Station and its 160 acres near Temescal, California, from W.W. Rubottom for $3,500. In March 1869, Wayman sold his half of the Butterfield Stage property to Thomas Bedford for $1,750. In Census of 1870 (age 44) Thomas listed his occupation as Farmer living in San Salvador Township, San Bernardino County. San Bernardino Guardian reported a number times in 1871 Thomas Bedford's activity in County politics.

In August 1873, Thomas transferred his voter registration from San Bernardino County to Los Angeles County. Over the following years he listed his occupation variously as Stock Raiser, Cattle Dealer, Officer, City Jailer, Detective, and finally as retired in 1890.

In May 1896 (age 70), Thomas was admitted to Los Angeles County Hospital and Farm for "old age." He listed his occupation as Stockman. In March 1903, (age 80) he was admitted to Los Angeles County Farm for treatment of asthma. Thomas died September 26, 1906, (age 80) in Los Angeles County Hospital: Cause of death: Endocarditis. He is buried in Rosedale Cemetery, 1831 Washington, Los Angeles, California.

Photo provided by Mark Jones a great great great nephew of Thomas Bedford who writes, "The photo is in a leather bound photo album that we have that used to belong to T.J. Bedfords nephew John Thomas Bedford. Thank you for your work on the pony express and particularly the work on my great great great uncle Tom, he was quite an interesting man."