Friday, August 12, 2016

Blending into Bedford

We drive through Bedford fairly frequently running errands, seeing family, and avoiding the
traffic on Texas Highway 183. On several of those occasions I’d noticed a cute little sign for Bizzi’s Bistro; we always said we’d stop for lunch ‘next time’. Well, ‘next time’ finally came. But before I tell you about our lunch, I have to tell you about the city of Bedford. This town is part of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ‘metro-mess’ and is generally referred to in the context of H-E-B. One of my favorite stories about this area comes from a teacher friend. She had just graduated from a large university in central Texas and was looking for a job. Of course she went to a placement councilor who helped her in that search. This was at a time when teaching positions, even those for science, were few and far between; so her councilor was elated when a position opened in the North Texas area. However, my friend was a bit dumbfounded when presented with an interview that sent her to HEB; she thought she was interviewing with a food store. And although HEB may, indeed, remind you of grocery shopping, it is actually a rather attractive place to work.

Bedford, Texas is not named for Mr. Bedford; evidently there never was anyone by that name in the area. While the Native Americans had wandered through this part of Texas
Bedford School
earlier, the first settlers didn’t arrive until the late 1840s (after Texas became a state). Their choice of settlement was predicated on being located within easy reach of Fort Worth and Grapevine both of which were necessary for supplies and trade. The first school was founded in Milton Moore’s log cabin in 1861; about a dozen students attended. However, it took another ten years or so for the settlement to grow. This occurred when Weldon Bobo moved in, establishing a general store and gristmill for the area farmers. These people decided to name the community after the Tennessee county from which many of them haled: Bedford. Leading community members started a church along with the first official post office. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s the population continued to grow, with more businesses serving the town and the establishment of Bedford College, a combination high school-junior college that was built on land deeded for its construction by Milton Moore. This institute of higher education survived until 1893 when a fire destroyed the building. In 1908 it was replaced by a 2-story brick schoolhouse (providing only per-college education) that remained in use until 1969. However, different sorts of disasters were looming on the horizon in this early part of the 20th Century.

While railroads and road ways can bring prosperity to a town, the lack of those can damage
Civil War Memorial
it. In the early 1900s the Dallas-Fort Worth Interurban rail line and U.S. Highway 80 were completed but neither went through Bedford. Shortly thereafter, the Rock Island Railroad also bypassed the town. By 1909 the population had dropped to such a level that even the post office closed. The population wouldn’t greatly increase until the advent of World War II and the construction of area military bases and defense plants. The post office re-opened in 1950 and by 1953 Bedford was an incorporated city with its own school district. The growing pains of ‘old settlers’ clashing with ‘new comers’ continued throughout the 1960s with the new residents demanding more city services and the long-time residents fighting against new taxes until 1969 when the Bedford Chamber of Commerce merged with the Hurst-Euless Chamber, paving the way for a unified hospital district and eventually a consolidated school system.

Although Bedford has grown from a low of 50 families to more than 47,000 residents, some of the historic sites are still preserved. The Bedford School has been restored and is a
Bedford Reunion Location
museum and visitors’ center. Near the Bedford College was the New Hope Church (also known as the Bedford Church of Christ) and it was on these grounds that M.H. Moore and Lee M. Hammond organized the first Bedford reunion. Because it was so near the Bedford Cemetery, in my mind it was like the celebration of the Day of the Dead. However, this was actually a day filled with sermons, music, food and reminiscing about the Bedford College. This gathering was so popular that it became an annual event, drawing thousands of attendees. During the 58 years of Bedford reunions, the occasion became more about community history than about Bedford College. The newspaper coverage of the meetings and the highlights saved much of the oral history of the area. The last reunion occurred in 1969.

Literally next door to the reunion site is the Old Bedford Cemetery. Its earliest use was
Marker for Elizabeth White Bobo
probably in the 1860s, although the oldest marker that is still in evidence in dated 1871 and belongs to Elizabeth (Betty) White Bobo. The land was provided by Milton Moore, the same person who donated land for the college. Just as you enter the cemetery you pass the Northeast Tarrant County Civil War Memorial. It honors veterans of both armies who lived, owned land, died or are buried in this area, 19 of whom are buried in the Old Bedford Cemetery. While there wasn’t a Mr. Bedford, there was a Mr. W. L. Hurst and he’s buried in this old cemetery, also.

Four carrots
Bizzi’s Bistro (313 Harwood Rd #101, Bedford, TX 76021, 817-281-9500) has only been in business for about five years, but in that time it’s won Wine Spectator awards. When we
Left T to B: Bizzi's Bistro, Squash soup with Shrimp
Pesto Sandwich
Right: BLT Sandwich and Cheese-Beer Soup
arrived on a Tuesday for lunch, it wasn’t crowded and our waiter had time to tell us a bit about the restaurant. They have a chef, use only fresh produce, and cut their own meat. Everything (or at 
least the things that can be) is prepared while you wait and the food is worth the wait. The restaurant, itself, is a pretty place with interesting art and eclectic furnishings; it’s a place you’d choose for a business meeting or for a romantic, peaceful get-away. Dave selected the BLT with fried green tomatoes and melted Swiss cheese on homemade bread; he enjoyed it thoroughly. He also got the cheese, beer, and bacon soup; he said it was wonderful and after I had a taste he almost didn’t get to finish it. The smoky flavor of the cheese and the crunch of the bacon were delightful. My Shrimp Pesto Sandwich was filled with shrimp that were cooked perfectly. And as advertised by our waiter, the field greens and tomato were, indeed, fresh and flavorful. I had to give the squash soup a try, and was pleased that it arrived with bacon garnishing the top; it was just yummy! Elaine Vaught, the proprietor, took time to drop by our table to chat with us about the wine cellar and the events that they host. She’s another blogger and great fun to talk with. We had a good time at Bizzi’s and we’ll be going back to sample more of their offerings and taste some of their wines.

For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Marker for Spanish-American War veteran
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