Theodore W. Bedford [RG1170.AM]


RG1170.AM:  Theodore W. Bedford, c. 1834-?

Papers:  1860-1870
Brownville, Nemaha County, Nebraska:  Real estate broker, surveyor, grain merchant
Size:  0.25 cubic ft., 1 roll microfilm


Theodore W. Bedford arrived in Brownville, Nebraska Territory in the late 1850s. The 1860 Brownville, Nemaha County census lists him as a 26-year old native of Pennsylvania with assets of $3000 in real estate and $400 in personal property. His occupation was “broker.”

As an early and prominent Brownville resident, Bedford was involved in many aspects of town promotion and settlement. He was a member of the local library and literary association, a Mason, the secretary of the Democratic County Convention in 1860, a member of the Anti-Jayhawk Society, county surveyor, county clerk, a captain in the 2nd Nebraska Cavalry during the Civil War, and an incorporator of the Brownville, Fort Kearny and Pacific Railroad.

During the 1860s, Bedford tried to make his fortune as a land broker. Sensing that money could be made in the grain trade during the Civil War, he began to operate as a buyer and seller of agricultural products around 1863. After the Civil War he continued in the grain trade, but also sought to include wagons and lumber as his “especial business.”

Theodore W. Bedford disappeared from the Brownville scene in the 1870s. He does not appear on the 1870 Nebraska census, nor do other records indicate what became of him.


This collection consists of four items of manuscript material in two series: 1) Letterpress Book, 1860-1870; and 2) Correspondence, 1865-1872. This material relates to Bedford’s business and political interests in Brownville and Nebraska Territory during his years there as a real estate broker, grain merchant, and influential supporter of the Democratic Party.

The Letterpress Book of Series 1 contains Bedford’s outgoing correspondence, 1860-1870. Of particular interest are letters in which Bedford comments on the effect the Civil War was having on Missouri River traffic and trade, as well as his predictions for increased emigration and business after the conflict.

Series 2 consists of correspondence received by Bedford. Included are two letters from George L. Miller, 1865 and 1872, and one letter from J. Sterling Morton, 1866. Miller’s letter of 1865 and Morton’s letter of 1866 relate to Bedford’s seeking the appointment as registrar of Brownville Land Office. Miller’s 1872 letter discusses the upcoming gubernatorial election and the plans of the Democratic Party.

Both series are available to researchers on microfilm. The letterpress book is in fragile condition and therefore, only the microfilm can be used. Several pages in the book are faded and cannot be read on film or in their original state. The letters of Series 2 are available to researchers either in microfilm or original form.


Series 1 – Letterpress book, 1860-1870
Reel 1

V1. 1860-1870
F1. Typed Transcript of Letters, 1860-Feb.19, 1862

Series 2 – Letters, 1865-1872
Reel 1 & Box 1

F1. Letters to Theodore W. Bedford, 1865-1872

Subject headings:

Bedford, Theodore W., 1834-?
Brownville (Neb.) — History
Democratic Party — Nebraska
Grain trade — Nebraska
Land settlement — Nebraska
Miller, George Lorin, 1830-1920
Morton, Julius Sterling, 1832-1902
Nebraska Territory — History
Nemaha County (Neb.) — History
Politics, Practical
Real estate agent — Nebraska
United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Economic aspects


Revised TMM        12-22-2006

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