Additional Bass family descendants outlined

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

In last week’s column, the first five children of William Riley and Frances Elizabeth (Collins) Bass were introduced. Their children were named and a brief biographical account of their lives was presented. In today’s writing, the same will be done for the additional six children.

The fourth son of William Riley and Frances Elizabeth, Benjamin Edward Bass, was described by his daughter as being “sensitive and caring” and always constructively teaching his children. He was 16 years old when the family moved to Utah, but he later moved to Louisiana to find employment and lived near his brother, Dan. He was married to Hazel Mae Laughlin, and they had the following two children: Louise, b. 1933, m. John Harrell; and Benjamin “Ben,” b. 1938.

The third daughter, Mary Etta, was a twin to her sister, Etta Mary. She was 13 years of age when the family moved to Utah. When she finished the eighth grade, the highest level of education offered in Saratoga, she and her twin sister moved to Moab where they worked in several hotels performing various tasks such as making beds. In 1920 she met J.D. Harris, and they were married in 1921. They soon bought their first house, which was furnished, in Price, Utah. J.D.’s first wife had died during the flu epidemic, and he was left with their four children: Lyman, Doyle, Bill and Alene. The three boys eventually came to live with him and Mary Etta.

J.D. and Mary Etta Harris had the following 10 children born to them : Vincent Paul, b. 1922; Leo P., d. 1997; Joseph Riley, b.&d. 1926; Mary Patricia; David Joseph, d. 1977; Michael James; Mary Etta; Bernadetta; John Paul; and Robert Thomas, b.&d. 1946. In 1939 the family had moved to Carbonville, where J.D. and their sons had moved their three-bedroom house in two parts. In 1947, Mary had a serious operation, and afterwards the doctor advised she was not to do any hard work. This led to her gaining her GED and later earning a two-year certificate in business administration. Her sons help her attend the University of Utah to earn a teaching degree. After teaching several years and retiring at the age of 65 years, she moved to Norwalk, Cal., and later to a retirement home in Los Angeles.

The twin sister, Etta Mary, was born in the White Oak community near Saratoga of Hardin County, Tex. She moved after the eighth grade to Moab to secure employment with her sister. She was later married to Alexander Gilbert Ralston with whom she had two children: Jean, b. 1922, d. 2005, m. William Gresko (1917-2007); and Mark, b. 1923, d. 1936. Alexander died in 1935 in Denver, Col., and Etta lived until 1986.

The youngest son, Joseph Carson Bass, was around 11 when the family moved to Utah. He finished his schooling in La Sal and then helped his father on the ranch. When the family made the trip to visit his brother, Dan, in Arkansas, Joe obtained a job in the oil fields with his brothers. In 1925 he was married to Winetta Cash, but he drowned 11 days later while swimming with his brothers in the Calcasieu River. He was an excellent swimmer, but some freak accident happened to cause his death.

The youngest living daughter, Eva “Evvie” Elizabeth, was barely nine when the family moved to Utah. When she finished what schooling was offered in La Sal, she moved to Moab where she stayed with families to allow her to complete high school. Circa 1925 she went home with her brothers to Huntsville, Tex., where she earned a degree from Sam Houston Teachers College. Her first year of teaching was in a one-room school in San Juan County. In 1938 she met Merrill Stevens, a LDS missionary. After finishing his mission, they bought his father’s ranch in Dodge Point and built a house in Blanding. They had the following five children: Merrillyn, b. 1939; John Edward, b. 1940; William Reed, b. 1942; Mildred, b. 1944; and Harold Owen, b. 1946. After Evvie retired from teaching, they moved near Merrillyn home in St. George and did mission work.

This completes the coverage as planned for the William Riley Bass family including his children and grandchildren. Anyone interested in further information may contact Nik Bass at his email address:

The source for today’s column was the book compiled by Nicholas Bruce “Nik” 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 the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email:


The Covington Historical Society will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone interested in local history is encouraged to attend and also to become a member.


FRANKLIN: The Franklins of Covington County, Ala., will hold a covered dish (meats will be provided) family reunion, Saturday, May 28, 2016, at 11 a.m. at the Community Center on Stewart Street in Red Level, Ala. It will probably be six or more years before another one is held, so all descendants are invited and encouraged to attend. For more information contact Lisa R. Franklin, 251-423-4568,

HENLEY: The descendants of Mike and Mary Ann (Thomasson) Henley will be gathering for their annual family reunion on Sun. May 22, at 12:30 p.m. in the fellowship room of the Red Oak Baptist Church, located on Hwy 55/Florala Hwy. All relatives are urged to attend and support this activity. Pleased bring “covered dishes” for the meal.