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A Tale of Three Hamlets - Bedford Village, Bedford Hills & Katonah

A history of Bedford's three hamlets - Bedford Village, Bedford Hills and Katonah.

According to the New York Division of Local Government Services, "a hamlet is an unincorporated area in one or more towns that is governed at-large by the town it is in. A hamlet is divided into neighborhoods, which are informal geographic areas." In the town of Bedford, three hamlets grew from the original settlement of 1681. Each has its own unique character and history detailed below. Do you know that just one development played the most significant role in the growth of Bedford Village, Bedford Hills and Katonah? Or that at one time Bedford had a larger population than White Plains? Find out more about the three hamlets at the Bedford Historical Soicety's Annual Meeting on Monday, May 6th.  Starting at 6:30 at Historical Hall there will be a photo exhibit and presentation and you can share your memories and make new ones at our free, informative event.

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Three Hamlets - One Town

The Town of Bedford consists of three hamlets, each with its own unique and important history. Bedford Village is the original settlement, laid out in New England fashion in 1681 by 22 men from Stamford CT. Here this small farming community grew over the next 98 years until that dreadful day in July of 1779 when the entire village was burned, save one house belonging to a Loyalist.  Refusing to leave their lands, the citizens rebuilt their town over time in much the same way as it was originally.  Some of the oldest houses around the Village Green were built on the charred timbers of their predecessors. The Bedford 1787 Court House was built as a Westchester County Court and Bedford shared half-shire status with White Plains until 1870 when the railroad made travel easier.  By this time White Plains had become a near metropolis while Bedford remained a quiet village. 

By serendipity, the New York and Harlem Railroad placed the station that was to serve Bedford’s residents about four miles north of the village in 1847, offering the dual benefit of allowing the original settlement to remain while bringing growth to another area of the Town. This area became known simply as Bedford Station, although at that time, there was not a single building in sight and it
was more a “stop” than a station. A stage ran regularly between the Bedford Village and the station carrying passengers and mail.  Walker Adams built
a store there which served as general store, post office, and ticket office
until the station was built about 1906. Transportation meant progress and the area close to the railroad grew itself into its own hamlet. On April 1, 1910, Bedford Station legally adopted the name “Bedford Hills” to acknowledge
that the area had grown far beyond the station itself

North of Bedford Station, another stop on the railroad became known as Katonah.  Earlier settlements in the area were Cherry Street and Whitlockville which was a thriving community of homes, a school, a church, stores and a grist mill. But the train stop was placed about a mile from Whitlockville, causing the town to relocate itself nearer to the train. It was known for a brief time as
Mechanicsville but later named Katonah. Old Katonah bustled along like other railroad towns until the need to grow New York City’s reservoir system called for new dams along the Croton and Cross Rivers. Threatened to be flooded
by the dams, Old Katonah was condemned. Again, the citizens refused to be driven from their homes; they simply decided to move them. The Katonah Land
Company was incorporated to purchase new land about a mile south of the original village and to coordinate the years’ long effort of moving all the homes to the new village which had the benefit of some early urban planning. This planning is why “new” Katonah is graced with a railroad station across from commercial and retail shops, the Parkway connecting it to the residential area along Bedford
Road.  On April 5, 1897 the Harlem Division train made its first stop in New Katonah.

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