Julie Druker | Feb 25, 2015
Close to 100 history buffs attended the annual Bedford District Historical Research Centre's open house at the Glendower hall near Godfrey on February 21.
The event included numerous displays of archival information, historical photos, maps and more. In addition, 10 local vendors and collectors set up booths advertising their wares and services. The open house offered local residents the chance to delve into not just their own family histories but also the rich local history of the area.
The Bedford Historical Committee has been actively preserving that history for roughly 15 years, when the center's former chair and founder, June Quinn (who since passed away), began collecting, preserving and cataloging local artifacts.
Gerald Stinson, who has been chairing the committee for the last four years, said that the aim of the annual open house is to promote the center and the local artisans and service providers in the area. The historical displays included in depth histories of close to 40 local families, beginning in 1861, such as the Babcooks, the Corcorans of Godfrey, the Kellys of Fish Creek Road and others
One display included a history of the various cheese factories in the area, along with numerous photos and information about the 11 former schools located in Bedford district. None of them are still operating today but four are still standing.
Other displays included a large historical map of the area pinpointing the families that first settled each individual lot and concession in the Township of Bedford beginning in the early 1800's. Another postal map circa 1879 defines the stagecoach mail routes from that time.
Stinson said that many visitors came to look into their family histories and that the center's archives have a wealth of that kind of information. “Basically anyone looking for information about a resident of Bedford at any time, from the district's first settlers to the present, will likely find that name here somewhere.”
One local family, the Maddens, who were on hand advertising their Eco Tree Care Service, used part of their day to do a bit of family tree digging of their own. The Madden family has roots that go back to the district's first settlers; their great, great, great, grandfather, John Madden of Ireland, settled in Burridge in 1823. Jimmy Madden said he believes that John Madden first arrived in Nova Scotia from Ireland then traveled through northern New York before finally settling in Frontenac County. At that time, 50-100 acre parcels of land were being granted to civilians. That first John Madden settled 50 acres that were located on Burridge Road and Firehall roads. Though the original farm burned down in the late 1800s, at that time John's son, also John, moved into an adjacent property, formerly the Edward Leary property. He built the home that Jimmy's father, Jim Madden, grew up in and where Jimmy currently lives with his family.
The Maddens also took time to peruse a copy of the Bedford Township Census from 1861-1911 and came upon some new information about a previously unknown member of their family. “We just found out today about Mary, a sister of our great, great grandfather, who was born in 1841 in Burridge and who lived there until her early 20s. However, then she disappeared from the census for what could be any number of reasons."
Jimmy Madden mused about the fact that he and his family members continue to this day to live and work off the land where his ancestors also did the same. “We (the Maddens) are very much the products not only of our ancestors but also our environment and it's amazing to think that our livelihoods are still to this day sourced by the local environment.”