The Colonel was a prominent and colourful figure in the history of Richmond Hill. Numerous references to him and his contributions to early society in Upper Canada have been found, particularly in the book, Early Days in Richmond Hill: A History of the Community to 1930 by Robert M. Stamp.
David Bridgford, though born in New York City c1791, came to The Hill around 1797 with his mother and stepfather, Robert Marsh (founding elder of the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church), by way of ox-cart, a two-day journey from the Town of York.
Bridgford served in the War of 1812 with the 3rd Regiment York Militia as a Captain and was ordered to man the Fort of York. He participated in the Battle of Detroit and was present when Commander Hull surrendered. In 1861 he was awarded the General Service Medal with Detroit Bar to commemorate his service there.
He was present at the Battle of Queenston Heights where he saw the gallant Brock fall, and also took part in engagements at Fort Niagara, Chippewa, Lundy’s Lane and Fort Erie. He was posted at Fort York when it fell on April 27, 1813 and, being too near the magazine when it exploded (killing two hundred American invaders along with their Commander, General Pike) was knocked unconscious, was picked up for dead and, while being conveyed to headquarters in a wheelbarrow ambulance, suddenly revived.
In 1814, he married Lucy Stegman, daughter of the Deputy Surveyor, John Stegman (retired Hessian soldier), who surveyed much of then Upper Canada and who was lost aboard The Speedy in October 1804.
In 1837, Mrs. Moodie begged Bridgford to accompany her husband Col. Moodie and Captain Hugh Stewart as they rode south to warn the garrison at Toronto of the impending attack led by MacKenzie. Col. Moodie was killed en route and Stewart was captured. Bridgford reached the town of York thereby warning the garrison and was commissioned by Fitzgibbon to ride back north to raise the militia. He was captured by the rebels, sentenced to hang as a spy, but was later freed and eventually gave testimony at MacKenzie’s trial.
Bridgford built the largest building in the village in those days; an hotel, which was situated between Centre and Richmond Streets on Yonge. It was two stories high and was run successfully for many years.
Bridgford also took a keen interest in civic affairs. In 1850 he was elected to the Council of the Township of Vaughan, was Deputy-Reeve for a number of years from 1852 and became Reeve in 1858. He also owned a farm and at one time was President of the Richmond Hill Agricultural Society.
He served as both a Magistrate and Coroner of the County of York, a position he continued to hold until his death in 1868.
Bridg(e)ford Street in Richmond Hill was named after him and his home at 210 Richmond Street has been designated an historic building.
He was the founder of and most predominant figure in the Richmond Masonic Lodge during the first forty years of its existence. In 1829, he was listed as Worshipful Master and was Master of the Lodge for many years thereafter, serving in that capacity for the years 1824-1831, 1846/7, 49, 52/3, 55-58 & 60/1 according to the List of Past Masters, Richmond Lodge.
The Colonel and his wife Lucy, are buried together in the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Plot 29, Range 5 North located at 10066 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, ON L4C Tel: 905-884-4211 email@example.com.
Their headstone has recently been uncovered but lays in crumbled ruin just below the surface of the plot. Efforts are underway to erect a suitable headstone at the Colonel’s grave site.
Veteran SummaryDavid Bridgford
Lieutenant Colonel, 3st Regiment York Millitia
Place of Birth
New York, NY, USA
Place of Death
Richmond Hill, ON, CAN
Died on: 01 OCT 1868
Reason: Old Age
Location of Grave
Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church Cemetery, 10066 Yonge St
Richmond Hill, ON, CAN
Latitude: 43.872751N Longitude: -79.437968