No matter how much you might know about Virginia, you know that is an old state, and we’re talking old. Steeped in history and a lot of pain, one can only imagine the wild stories that come out of this state. But you don’t have to imagine long, because I am here to go down the list of every single one of them so we can learn about them together. I have a doozy for you today, too: The legend of how Bedford, Virginia received its name. And it’s absolutely disturbing.
Let’s start with the history of Bedford, Virginia, which was once known as Liberty before the terrible things that happened in this apparent legend. We’ll stick with what we know first, then go into the speculations.
In central Virginia, the town of Bedford was established in 1782 and named after John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford, who was a British statesman at the time.
During the Civil War, Bedford played an important role as a supply and transportation center for Confederate forces. The town was also the site of a significant battle in 1864, known as the Battle of New London, where Union troops attacked and destroyed Confederate supplies and facilities.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Bedford became a hub for the production of tobacco and, later, furniture manufacturing. Today, Bedford is a small town with a population of approximately 6,000 residents. It is known for its historic architecture, including several buildings that date back to the 1800s, and as the home of the National D-Day Memorial, which honors the soldiers who fought in the Normandy landings during World War II.
Pretty standard historical stuff, right? Sure. But what this general history doesn’t cover is the horrifying legend behind why Bedford, which was once known as Liberty, changed it’s name.
When New London took up their county seat in the 1700s, Bedford was forced to find a new place to land, and a generous offer was made: 100-acres for the then town of Liberty on Bramblett’s Road, by businessmen Joseph Findings and Robert Downey. Apparently, these two men were trying to run the owner of Bramblett’s Farm, Robert Bramblett, out of business and take his land. In what was considered by many, including Robert Bramblett to be a “crooked deal”, the Farm was purchased, but soon after Mr. Bramblett started running his mouth about how he was taken advantage of and his property basically stolen, which we all know is never a good idea.
Shortly after, five of Mr. Bramblett’s children died “in their sleep” when there was a fire at home. His daughter, Liberty Bramblett was the only survivor. And though the town of Liberty was named after her to save the embarrassment of what Findings and Downey did (they were also suspected of starting the fire), her suffering was only beginning.
In October of 1785, Liberty was exiled from the town with her own name after some kids accused her of practicing witchcraft. Later, sadly, she was found in Huddleston forest by some hunters, where she was thought “dead from exposure” and hung from a tree with “stones tied to each of her limbs” (W.T.F.?).
Next year, without a trace, all of those who blamed Liberty for witchcraft, along with a chunk of the town’s kids, went missing.
Perfect. The town obviously thought they were cursed, and I agree. These disappearances all lead to years upon years of misery and destruction for the town, too. So much so, I’m way too lazy to go over it all here. All you have to know is that it was apparently enough for them to change the name to “Bedford” to avoid the curse.
What do you believe? Let me know in the comments.