The settlement of Bedford County began after the signing of two treaties in the early 1800s. The first treaty at Tellico on October 15, 1805, applied to the land north of Duck River in Bedford County. The second was the Treaty of Dearborn signed at Washington on January 7, 1806, and applied to the lands south of Duck River, all the way to the state line. Rutherford County was established in 1803 and claimed all the lands south of its present day boundary line, extending southward into what is now Bedford and Lincoln counties. However, by 1807 the daily arrival of new settlers to the Duck and Elk River valleys resulted in plans for the establishment of a new county in the area. The Tennessee State Constitution of 1796 declared that no new county could be formed or established unless it had at least 625 square miles and a petition filed with the General Assembly signed by 200 free male inhabitants within the bounds of the new county.
By the fall of 1807, the requisites for the new county were fulfilled by the Duck River settlers, then know as the "inhabitants of Rutherford County." The signed petition was presented to Joseph Dickson who represented Rutherford County in the House of Representatives, and he in turn presented the petition to the House while seated at Knoxville in October 1807. After much debate in the Senate and House, the bill for the establishment of Bedford County was passed on December 3, 1807, and named for Revolutionary soldier Thomas Bedford. Thomas Bedford was deceased at that time, having died in 1804 at Old Jefferson in Rutherford County. He never resided in the territory of the new county but some of his relatives resided in Bedford County. Thomas Bedford Moseley (born 1788, died 1866) of the Fairfield Community was his nephew, a son of Ann Bedford Moseley. Bedford County's original land area encompessed more than twice its current boundaries, including all the present day Lincoln and Moore Counties, most of Marshall County, western Coffee County, and a small portion of Giles County. In 1809, the southern area of the county became Lincoln County. Similar Actions in 1835, 1836, and 1871 to form the other counties left Bedford County's boundaries as we know them today. In May 1810, Clement Cannon donated 100 acres of land for locating the county seat. As more and more settlers came to the county, various businesses were established to meet their needs.
On October 7, 1819, the city was officially incorporated. It was named in honor of Isaac Shelby, a Revolutionary War hero who fought in several prominent battles of that war.
Bedford County, Tennessee