William Riley Bass came from Saratoga, Texas

Published 12:35 am Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Bass family of Covington County is a very large and influential one. Its history with considerable genealogy has been presented several years earlier in this column.

New data research by a younger descendant, Nicholas Bruce Bass, provides a source for an update on this family.

He completed his comprehensive compilation entitled Bass Family Record in December 2015.

Some of the earliest ancestors of the Bass family were identified, which were not readily known when the earlier columns were written.

The earliest one according to Nicholas was Thomas Bilondeau Basse who married Marie Genevieve Belanger.

They had a son, William Basse (1480-1539), who married Rosalie Benoite and had a son, Joseph Basse (1500-1534), who married Josephine Pilotte. This couple had a son, William Basse (1520-1616), who married Mary Larkin (1525-1616), and had a son named Humphrey Benjamin Basse (1565-1616) who married Mary Buschier (1568-1616).

Their son, Nathaniel Basse (1589-1654) married Mary Jordan (1592-1630) and had a son, John Basse (1616-1699), who married Elizabeth Bass (1618-1676) and had a son, William Basse (1654-1741) who married Katherine Lanier (1655-1692). William and Katherine had John Bass Sr. (1673-1731) who married Love Harris (1678-1731) and had John Bass Jr. (1696-1777) who married Elizabeth Winborne (1706-1777).

They in turn were the parents of Isaac Bass (1736-1802) who married Nancy Ann Bunch (1738-1811) and had a son, John Augustine Bass Sr. (1767-1822).

John Augustine Bass Sr. was married to Lydia Mildred Sikes (1760-1845), and among their children was a son named Wilson Bennett Bass.

Wilson was born in 1785 in Nash County, N.C. and died in 1850 in Andalusia, Ala.

He was married to Susannah Bass (1790-1850) who was also a native of North Carolina.

This couple had only three known children, but they were the ancestors of many descendants who resided in Covington County.

The children were Bennett Bridges Bass Sr., b. 1808, d. 1866 or 1874, m. Mary Elizabeth Hogg; William Riley, b. 1824, d. 1864, m. Mary Straughn; and Nancy, b. 1824, d. 1885, m. Bill Padgett.

Bennett Bridges and Mary Elizabeth Bass reared the following children: Mary Elizabeth, b. 1838, d. 1912, m. (1) William Teel (1841-1863) (2) John Wilson Ramer (1842-1916); Wilson Bennett II, b. 1840, d. 1864, m. Jane Teel (1839-1864); Nancy, b. 1842, d. 1916, m. James Teel; Levina Winny, b. 1843, d. 1866; Holland Middleton “Holly,” b. 1845, d. 1934; James Hilliard, b. 1847, d. 1864; Bennett Bridges Jr., b. 1848, d. 1930; Elizabeth, b. 1850, d. 1943, m. Jake Ramer; Martha Jane, b. 1852, d. 1943; and William Riley II, b. 1854, d. 1933, m. Nancy Jane Ward (1860-1945).

Wilson Bennett’s second son, William Riley Bass, and his wife, Mary (Straughn), reared the following five children: James W., b. 1848; John, b. 1850, single; William M., b. 1852, d. 1913, m. Abbie Welch; Bennett B., b. 1855; and Riley, b. 1856, d. 1915, single.

In the next generation of this family, Bennett Bridges Bass Sr.’s son, Wilson Bennett Bass II, was married to Jane Teel in 1857.

Within a few years in 1864 he was killed by Confederate soldiers while he was crossing Boggy Bayou in Niceville, Fla., with his brother, James Bass, and brother-in-law, James Teel, trying to reach the Union line.

James Bass was also killed and James Teel was shot through the thigh, which resulted in him being crippled for the remainder of his life.

Wilson Bennett Bass II was 24 years old at the time of his unfortunate death, so he left a young widow with two young sons: Benjamin Wilson “Ben,” b. 1860, d. 1935, m. Matilda Hall; and William Riley “Bill,” b. 1862, d. 1948, m. Frances Elizabeth Collins.

His widow, Jane, took her sons and returned to her mother’s, Anna (Padgett) Teel, home in Andalusia.

About three months later she and three others were crossing Pensacola Bay to attend a wedding when a strong wind arose, which caused the boat to capsize.

Jane was drowned, which left the two young sons as orphans.

She was buried beside her husband in Niceville.

From this point the family of the above young son, William Riley Bass, will be featured.

His life was a difficult one from the beginning with him losing his father and mother in such tragic and untimely events.

His grandmother Teel who was about 63 years of age was left to care for him and his brother.

In addition she was caring for the orphaned children of her son, John Teel.

She was fortunate to have the assistance of her unmarried daughter, Martha Teel.

William Riley Bass’s uncle, Richard Teel, migrated to Saratoga, Tex., in 1860 where he became the second settler in that area.

He soon enlisted and served in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States.

He survived, returned home and soon built a new house for his family in 1867.

Then he sent for his mother and all the children she had in her household as well as her daughter, Martha.

Their joining this family made for a very large one since Richard and his wife had 11 children of their own.

Anna Teel and her brood left Andalusia and traveled to Brewton, the location of the nearest railroad station.

There they boarded a train which took them to New Orleans.

The train was run onto a ship on which they sailed around the Gulf of Mexico to a port in Galveston, Texas.

From there they traveled up the Trinity River to Liberty, Tex., where some of Richard Teel’s family met them. From there they traveled overland to Richard’s home at Saratoga.

The large family apparently got along well and enjoyed being together.

When William Riley Bass was grown he was married to Frances Elizabeth Collins, daughter of James Madison Collins and Caroline (Mathews). Frances was born in 1866 in Jones County, Miss., as the third of 13 children. Her parents moved the family to Texas where they settled in the “Old Hardin” community of Hardin County.

This site was located between Saratoga and Kountae, which was the county seat.

The family later moved north of Saratoga to a site near Livingston in Polk County.

William and Frances’s first home was in a log house on a homestead in the White Oaks community where around 20 families resided in a six to seven mile radius.

Each family owned at least 160 acres of land and made their living by farming.

They grew most of their own food and only bought basic items such as flour, sugar and coffee.

They purchased these in large quantities such as a 100 pound barrel of flour that might last a full year.

They survived on a heavy diet of cornbread, which they had from corn ground at a gristmill.

William Riley eventually sold his farm to an oil company, but they allowed him to continue to farm it.

He did invest in a grocery and mercantile store in Saratoga, but he didn’t receive much income from it.

He then decided to buy his partner’s share and operate the business himself.

The family moved to town and lived in quarters over the store.

He soon realized he was a better farmer than store manager, so he went back to farming.

The source for this writing was the book compiled by Nicholas Bruce Bass entitled Bass Family Record, which was completed in December 2015.

He reported that the genealogy of the William Riley Bass family was provided by Kris Crowther, a great, great granddaughter of William Riley Bass.

Appreciation is expressed to these two Bass descendants for sharing their research.

Anyone having corrections or questions regarding this writing is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.