The Bassett Family of Houston
by Sue Bassett Folawn
Stephen Bassett, son of William
Bassett and his wife Mary Phillips, was born
in Cumberland Co. NC in 1788, and grew up in that area. He married Jane
Morris, daughter of Elijah and Rachel Morris, in Barnwell, SC in 1815.
with many thousands of others, especially settlers from the Carolinas, they
arrived in Georgia with the hopes of the land and a new life, offered by the
Georgia Land Lotteries.
Family tradition says that the young family settled first near old Ft.
Hawkins, close to Macon, when that part of the state was still on the frontier
the Cherokee Indians were still inhabiting the area. By the 1820 Census,
had moved to Jones Co., near Clinton.
In 1828, Stephen purchased 202 1/2 acres from Alexander B. Kennedy for Lot
33, District 5 of Houston Co. for $250.(1) This was land originally drawn
Mr. Kennedy in the 1821 Georgia Land Lottery. The property was
mile and a half southeast of Byron, Ga. This is where the Bassetts settled
There would be years of hard work ahead, but people who managed to obtain
the land offered in the Lotteries, considered themselves fortunate, indeed. The
land in Houston County was rich. It was also forested and needed to be cleared
and fenced in order to plant crops and orchards. At this point,
few and primitive. Railroads would not arrive in the area until the
Their church, believed to have been the Shiloh Methodist Church, near their
farm, was undoubtedly the mainstay of both their spiritual and social lives.
Notations in the Bassett Bible list the dates that each of the Bassett sons and
daughters joined the Church, indicating its great importance to them.
and Jane farmed, raised their family of 5 children and lived long and
productive lives, accumulating a considerable amount of land in the process.
The Civil War brought great personal tragedy
to the family with the loss of 3
grandsons in service; Stephen and Will Clark (sons of daughter Mary) and
Walter Pattishall, (daughter Harriet's son) as well as the death of a
Wiley Clark, (Mary's husband). Two of their young Melvin grandchildren
(children of daughter, Georgia) also died of illness during this time. (1863)
Stephen Bassett died in 1867 (age 78) and Jane in 1870 (age 71). Family
tradition says that they are buried in the Shiloh Methodist Churchyard near
GA. While there are no markers for them in evidence, there are estimated
be as many as 150 unmarked graves within the cemetery. They were married
The will of Stephen Bassett;
Book B, Pages 201 & 202, Minute Book pg. 415
Houston Co. GA.
"In the name of God, Amen.
I, Stephen Bassett, of the State of Georgia and County
of Houston, being
of sound mind and perfect memory, taking into consideration the frailty of
human nature and knowing it is appointed unto man once to die & and being of
advanced age and knowing by the course of nature I must soon depart this life
I wish to dispose of by will of what earthly property
it has pleased God
to bless me within this world to make, ordain, promulgate and establish this
my will and testament.
1st My soul I commit to God who gave it and my body to the earth,
friends will give it a decent burial.
2nd My debts I wish paid with the least possible delay by my executors as
do not wish that my condition should be kept from their dues when there is no
occasion for delay.
3rd I give my whole estate, real and personal, to my beloved wife Jane
Bassett during her natural life or widowhood and until her death or marriage the
property that I herein give my said wife is to be used by her and kept together
for her support and maintenance, and at her death or marriage I give
and bequeath to my two sons, William F. Bassett and Stephen E. Bassett, one
half of my whole estate, real and personal, to be equally divided between them,
and to my three daughters, Mary A. A. Clark, Harriet J. A. Pattishall and
Georgia A. Melvin, I give, devise and bequeath the other half of my whole
real and personal, to be equally divided between them.
4th And it is my further will and desire that the property herein given to my
daughters above named shall vest in each of them as a separate estate, free
from the debts, contracts and liabilities of any husband or husbands that
either of them may ever marry.
5th I herein nominate and appoint my two sons, William F. Bassett and Stephen
E. Bassett, Executors of this, my last will and testament, in witness
whereof, I have herein set my hand and seal February 7th, 1867.
D. F. Gunn
F. M. Trell
(Probated Sept. 1867)
M. H. Thomson
Mary Bassett Clark was the
firstborn child of Stephen and Jane Bassett. Born in North
Carolina, she would have been an infant when they arrived in Georgia in 1820 and
was 11 when her parents settled in Houston Co., near Byron. She grew up
her 4 siblings (William, Harriet, Stephen Elisha and Georgia) and married Wiley
Clark in 1836. They were the parents of 9 children.
More than most, we can look at the old records of Mary's life and marvel at
the story they tell and the history this family lived through. Following
death of her husband of over 25 years during the Civil War, she homesteaded the
Clark farm near Powersville and raised her 3 remaining children there
(Victoria, Sarah and Drew), with 2 of her older boys living nearby. She
remarry.. She outlived all but one of her siblings and died in Monroe Co.
at age 85.
Mary's obituary reads;
"Mrs. Mary A. Clark, daughter of the late Stephen and Jane Bassett was born
Oct. 15, 1819 and died in Monroe Co. Ga. on June 23, 1905. She was buried
Shiloh Methodist Churchyard, Houston Co. Ga. She married Mr. Wiley Clark.
had 2 sons to die in the War (1). Her husband joined the State Troups and
was taken sick and sent home. When he reached Powersville, Ga. his
had died that day. In a few days, he passed away also. She leaves 2
and 1 daughter, Mrs. V.A. (3) Maynard of Forsyth, Ga., Rev. J.F. Clark of
Texas, and Mr. D.E. Clark of Monroe Co. Ga."
From "Monroe Co. GA. Published Obituaries"
Washington Library, Macon, GA
(1) Will and Stephen
(3) Mrs. Elisha Thomas Maynard
William F. Bassett
was born near Macon, the first born son of Stephen and
Jane Bassett, but came to the Byron area as a small child. He married
Walker in July of 1847.
William served with the Georgia 20th Infantry, Co. A, during the Civil
This family lived in the Powersville area throughout their lives and were
large landowners. He was a County Officer in 1866 (Tax Receiver)
Will of William F. Bassett
Will Book B-280-281
Mar. 12, 1875
Filed: July 24, 1875
To wife Sarah A. Bassett, my entire estate....
Following her death;
2 daughters: Angelina H. Bassett and Mary Ann Bassett, my homeplace
consisting of about 700 acres formed by lots: 5/33 (original Stephen Bassett lot
Houston Co.), 5/34, 5/19, half of 5/20
2 sons: Stephen M. Bassett and William F. Bassett, Jr., my Everett Lands,
about 600 acres consisting of 9/240, portion of 9/239, 6/226, 6/255, portion of
Executors: Wife Sarah A. Bassett and brother Stephen E. Bassett
William and his wife Sarah are both buried in Shiloh Churchyard. Byron, GA.
as are all four of their children
Harriet Bassett Pattishall was the 3rd child of Stephen and Jane Bassett,
born in 1830 near
She married Jackson C. Pattishall of Houston Co. in 1844. Harriet and her
husband Jack, had 13 children, 7 surviving to adulthood.
Below is the text of a letter, written by Harriet to her sister Mary Bassett
Clark during the Civil War;
(There are early Houston County records referring to the Buzzard's Roost
Ferry on the Ocmulgee River in the 11th land district of the county. It
the present day town of Kathleen, Ga.)
Harriet and Jackson Pattishall are buried at Shiloh Churchyard in Byron.
At home August
Mrs. Mary A. A. Clark
My dear sister,
I received your kind letter
this morning. I was more than
glad to hear from you all. This leaves me with a sick family.
Jack and Lish
and Eugenia all have the fever and has been down a week today.
Jack is very
weak for he liked to of died. I have been sick myself. It
was caused from
fatigue and wanting to sleep. I hope this may reach you all well
and doing well.
Dear sister, trouble is common over here, more so among the common
than the rich. The rich is as high minded as ever and is dodging the war
troubles of it. Dear, it seems like everything in the way of
trouble is come
on me at once. It seems insupportable and no friend near to relate
troubles to nor to sympathize with me. It seems like I had rather
die than live if
it was not for my helpless little children that would suffer for my
I have not heard from my husband and my son in nearly 3 weeks. I
why they don't write to me I am in a distressed condition with my
and not well myself. This is a very sickly place. I want to
get away from
here bad. Tell Daniel (Mary's son) to get off at buzzard roost
live two miles from the station. Inquire for the widow Bryans
place or for
where we live either. Rebecca Bryans. Jack will meet
him if he knew what day he
would come. Tell him to come soon. I want you to come with
him if you can.
If you can Mary. The children all want to see Aunt Mary. I dreamed
last night. I must close so nothing more from your loving and
sister this time.
Harriet J Pattishall *
Stephen Elisha Bassett
Stephen Elisha Bassett was born near Byron,
GA. in 1833 and grew up as the
second from the youngest child of Stephen and Jane Bassett. According to
old Bassett Bible pages, he joined the church as a young man of 18, and was a
practicing Christian for the rest of his life, devoting much of it to spreading
He married Frances Hicks (daughter of Elijah H. Hicks and Martha Fudge),
Feb. 18, 1855 in her father's home in Crawford County. (3) He was 22. She
20. Early in their marriage, the couple settled near Fort Valley on
Hardison Place, north of town on Taylor's Mill Road. In 1865, he purchased
property and built the "Bassett homeplace" (also on Taylor's Mill
for many years now as Pineola. Here they raised their family and spent
years. The Bassett homeplace remained in the family for over 100 years,
occupied by sons and grandsons and their families.
Stephen Elisha and Frances were married for nearly 35 years and were the
parents of 9 children, 7 of whom lived to adulthood, Gus, Walter, Stephen,
"Lish", Charlie, Sidney and Fannie. His pet name for her was
In his early years, the Rev. S. E. Bassett (as Stephen Elisha was listed in
later records) was a Methodist minister and Circuit Rider, traveling and
preaching, performing marriages and burying the departed, around the
counties. These ministers were known as "Saddlebag Saints" for
their efforts at
carrying the Word on horseback. (2) Stephen Elisha also farmed and was a
highly successful businessman. He ginned the cotton of his neighbors, sold
gins, and acquired extensive property in both Georgia and Alabama.
also one of the incorporators of the Dow Land Bank of Fort Valley as well as
one of the founders of the Fort Valley College, the first college for blacks in
In a disagreement with the Methodist church in 1882, he was granted a
of removal (a form of resignation). He thereafter donated the land for and
built and established his own church, the Congregational Methodist Church
Persons Street in Fort Valley. He preached there for 12 years.(2) He
organized the Crawford County Wesleyan Congregational Church. At the time
death in 1897, he was superintendent of the Congregational churches of
Alabama for the Congregational Home Missionary Society.
In 1884, the Bassett homeplace was being managed by a Mr. Lonie Taylor (3),
which sounds as if Stephen Elisha and Frances may have moved to town when he
built the new church. This is also the year that his son, Stephen Hicks
Bassett, purchased the homeplace from his father and his own family moved
He would seem to have been a many faceted man; a farmer with very large
holdings, a successful businessman, and a man dedicated to his religious calling
for all of his adult life, paradoxical, but much admired.
Following the death of Frances in 1889, he married "Miss Tommie"
had been the governess for his daughter Fannie.
When he died, in 1897, his funeral service was preached by the Rev. S.E.
McDaniel on the words;
"I have fought a good fight,
I have kept the faith,
I have finished the course.
Servant of God well done,
Rest in thy loved employ." (4)
Stephen Elisha is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Ft. Valley, with a wife on
(1)Diary/ledger of S.E, Bassett 1868 and 1872 (found at Pinelola-2000)
(2) Information from "Methodist Church 1847-1905". Thomas Public
(3) "Near-by Orchards, farms and farmers. Business Directory of Fort
and Many Other Items", page 17, printed in 1884, speaks of the
(Found in the Fort Valley Library, reported by Paul and Delise
(4) Bassett Bible (Pineola)
GEORGIA ANN BASSETT MELVIN (1835-1915)
Below is a letter written by Georgia Bassett to her cousin in
April 9th 1863
Mrs Martha L Hatcher
My Dear Old Friend
I seat myself this evening to write you a few lines to inform you
that I am yet in the land of the living and although some years have
elapsed since I have seen you I assure you you are not
me. This leaves me in very good health and I trust you enjoying the
like blessing. Brother Elishas wife received a letter from you last
year which was intended for us both. I recon you thought I did not
intend to reply ***obscured by scotch tape***I think you will only
wonder ***obscured by scotch tape*** with a kind loving husband who
always treated me very kind and was all to me that I could ask or
wish we live in peace and pleasure without any thing to mar our
happiness eight years to a day. I can look back upon my past life I
never knew what trouble was until the 14th of last July he joined
Southern Rights Artillery oh what a sad day it was to me when I
looked after him perhaps for the last time. I never shall be able to
express the feelings I ***** not more than two minutes after he was
gone. I thought if the whole world was at my command I would give it
all just only to have him with me again but that pleasure was denied
me and I have never seen him since nor did my troubles end here. I
had two lovely children the oldest was nearly three years old her
name was Anna Valetta the baby was nearly 3 months old her name was
Georgia Melissa. I never saw more promising children in my life.
both and especially Anna was a favorite with everyone that saw them.
But alas their time on earth was short the destroying Angel entered
my sweet little home and took my sweet little children from me.
Georgia died just nine days before Anna both scarlet fever in the
worst form. I never saw anything suffer like they did in my life.
Georgia was not able to make any noise at all in about ten days
before she died. She lived fourteen days after she was taken and
live twenty three days after she was taken. Oh how desolate is my
once sweet little home striped of all that was lovely and pleasant
my eyes. No one but God and myself know what trouble deep I waded
through in the past ten months. I was first taken sick in ****scotch
tape**** bed a week to both my little darlings was took sick
***scotch tape*** to get off my bed to wait on them **** a
nights rest in thirty nights. It only seems a wonder that I was
I have now only one consolation left and that is I know the Lord
all things well. I cannot see now why he should thus afflict me but
know it is all right for God cannot err. I have the blessed
consolation of knowing my little darlings is in Heaven free from the
cares, troubles and snaresof this world and by the grace of God I
intend to meet them where parting will be no more.
I am blessed with a Christian husband if he should be spaired to me
will try and be content with my lot but the dreadful thought of
losing him nearly distracts me. Dear Martha I recon you are tired of
my tale of woe. I recon you scarcely recognize the once light
Georgia Bassett in these lines. I would be very glad to see you and
have a long talk with you.
Close for the present hopeing to hear from you very soon.
Your truly devoted friend
Georgia A Melvin
[Written upside down in the upper
margin of the 2nd page]:
Direct your letters to Fort Valley Ga please write to me soon
Mrs Georgia A Melvin
Fort Valley Ga
(Georgia's husband, Wiley Melvin, did return from the War, and they went on
to live full lives and have 2 more children (William and Wiley). They
Fort Valley throughout their lives and are both buried in Oaklawn Cemetery.)