Ebenezer S. Bedford

Pages 494-495 - Ebenezer S. Bedford has had the practical trade experience that makes him an authority in his chosen line of enterprise, he having worked at the bench as a skilled shoemaker prior to establishing himself in the retail shoe business, of which he is now one of the prominent and successful representatives in the city of Grand Rapids, his advancement and success as a reliable and progressive business man being due entirely to his own ability and well directed efforts. Mr. Bedford was born near Chatham, province of Ontario, Canada, October 11, 1863, and is a son of William and Keziah (McKinsey) Bedford, the former of whom was born in 1831, of Welsh ancestry, and the latter of whom was of Scotch lineage. Representatives of the Bedford family were early settlers in the vicinity of Chatham, Ontario, and several generations of the family have lived on the old homestead farm that was the birthplace of the subject of this sketch, the family having been closely and worthily associated with the development and progress of that section of Ontario. The paternal great-grandfather of Ebenezer S. Bedford was Captain Robert Bedford, who was long and prominently identified with early navigation interests on the Great Lakes and who as commander of vessels gained his title of captain, his son Ebenezer having been the grandfather of him whose name initiates this review. In the early days before bridges and railway tunnels made connections between Ontario, Canada, and Michigan, the Bedfords operated a ferry line across Lake St. Clair. The early experiences of Ebenezer S. Bedford were those incidental to the work of the farm and in the meanwhile he attended the public schools at Chatham, besides which he was later graduated in the McLaughlin Business College, at Chatham, Ontario. On the bench he served a thorough apprenticeship to the shoemaker’s trade, and as a skilled artisan he was later employed in various shoe factories. He became a designer of shoe lasts and patterns, and thus it can readily be understood that, as previously noted, he is an authority in shoe values. Mr. Bedford has been a resident of Grand Rapids since 1900 and here, in 1910, he entered into a partnership with J. W. Baldwin, and the two rented a small space in the basement of the building in which Mr. Bedford now conducts his substantial and prosperous retail shoe business. The two interested principals began operation with a capital of only $1,000, of which $400 had been borrowed, and a wholesale shoe house gave them credit to the amount of fifty dollars, on the stipulation that payments should be made weekly. The prospective success of the new enterprise was viewed with no little skepticism by many business men who knew of the venture, but the two energetic and determined principals of the firm proved that they had the success-function well in hand. In their little basement room the two made their own benches and shelves, and here they began their activities in the retail trade, besides maintaining a repair department. At the expiration of eighteen months, Mr. Bedford purchased his partner’s interest, he having received financial backing from the owners of a representative shoe factory. Under these conditions he worked more assiduously than before, if such were possible, and on the basis of fair and courteous service and the handling of reliable goods only, always telling the truth and thereby gaining the confidence and respect of patrons, Mr. Bedford has developed a business that ranks among the important enterprises of this kind in Grand Rapids. At his large and well equipped establishment, located at the corner of Monroe and Ionia avenues, he maintains also a well equipped shoe repair department, with expert workmen in charge, and a popular member of his corps of salesmen is his son, Earl S. Incidentally it may be noted that Mr. Bedford invented a notably efficient foot-measuring appliance, the same being of much value in determining the selection of shoes that shall prove properly fitted, and this device he permits others to use without profit to himself, this generous trade policy having been adopted by him "for the good of the service" and for the comfort of the buying public. Mr. Bedford has not only a pleasant home in Grand Rapid but also an attractive summer home near Croton Dam, one of the many fine resort districts of western Michigan. He is affiliated with both York and Scottish Rite bodies of the Masonic fraternity, as well as with the Mystic Shrine.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 25 November 2003