BEDFORD, TEXAS. Bedford, bisected by State Highway 121, is northeast of Fort Worth in the northeast quadrant of Tarrant County, north of the West Fork of the Trinity River. The first settlers arrived in the late 1840s in the Bedford area, located strategically between Fort Worth and Grapevine. Milton Moore of North Carolina established the community's first school in his log cabin in 1861 with a dozen or more students. A settlement developed in the 1870s, after Weldon Bobo moved from Tennessee and established a general store and gristmill to serve area farmers. Bobo and a group of farmers agreed to name their community Bedford, after the county in Tennessee from which many of them had come. Bobo, Moore, and others founded New Hope Christian Church in 1874, and the first official post office opened in Bobo's home in 1877. In the 1880s and 1890s Bedford was a booming town, with a population of 1,000 or possibly even 2,000 that surpassed that of all other Tarrant County towns except Fort Worth. In addition to the alleged twenty-eight businesses that served the town, the community was also the home of Bedford College, founded in 1882. The college, which was something of a combination high school-junior college, survived until fire gutted the building in 1893.
Shortly after 1900 the prosperity ended. In 1901 the Dallas-Fort Worth Interurban rail line was built south of the Trinity, and, closely paralleling it, U.S. Highway 80 was also soon completed through Arlington and Grand Prairie. The two new arteries diverted traffic away from Bedford Road. In 1903 the Rock Island Railroad also bypassed Bedford. Businesses and residents moved, and the post office closed in 1909. Though only Bobo's store and perhaps fifty residents were left in the business district, in 1912 the town built a new two-story brick school on the site of the old college. Truck farming and dairying were prevalent from 1910 through the 1930s, and there were no more than eighty residents in Bedford as late as 1940. The community's general store was maintained by the related Bobo and Fitch families from the 1870s to the 1960s.
World War II and the construction of nearby military bases and defense plants caused Bedford's population to swell to something over 400 by 1953; 100 of the residents lived at Bedford Boys Ranch, a home for wayward boys aged ten to fourteen. The post office reopened in 1950. In fear of being swallowed up by burgeoning Hurst or Euless, the town voted 55 to 20 to incorporate in 1953. In 1955 Bedford voted against merging with the new Hurst-Euless School District, but in 1958 residents narrowly approved the school merger by 212 to 189. Between 1955 and 1960 Bedford increased its size from two square miles to just over ten, and the population increased to more than 2,700. But the 1961 master plan zoned everything as residential or agricultural, presaging painful political clashes in the 1960s between newcomers demanding services and old-line settlers resisting suburbanization and taxes. Newcomers launched a movement to merge Bedford with the more populous Euless in 1967. It passed in Euless, but was beaten in Bedford by 975 to 422. Bedford apartment zoning, however, began in 1968, and in 1969 the Bedford Chamber of Commerce merged with the Hurst-Euless chamber and the three towns established a hospital district.
By 1970 Bedford had more than 10,000 residents. In 1974 the old Boys Ranch became the town's biggest park. The decade of the 1970s saw the establishment of an industrial park, shopping centers, and restaurants, as well as the completion of the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth International Airportqv. There was a tremendous growth spurt from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. Thousands of urbanites were seeking a small-town life; most were professionals and Republicans, and many were northerners. Battles over apartment and commercial zoning marked the 1970s and 1980s. The population increased to some 20,800 in 1980 and about 44,000 in 1990, with 400 businesses. The town was split in the 1990s over proposed city involvement in the development of a central business district, an effort to create a downtown in a suburban community. The old Bedford School was restored and reopened in the summer of 1996 housing a museum, visitors' center, meeting rooms, auditorium, and classroom space. By 2000 the town's population grew to 47,152, with 1,798 businesses.
Clippings File, Bedford Public Library. Historic Resources Survey: Selected Tarrant County Communities (Fort Worth: Historic Preservation Council for Tarrant County, 1990). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Bedford, Texas, Peters' Colony).