Bassett  Family

Thursday, July 18, 1912
page 1, column 3
Long In Lineage, Achievements, Honors And Victories
Its History Goes Back Of William The Conqueror
In March Of Centuries Many Have Played Their Parts Well
Right Here In Shelby County,
Where They Have Earned And Maintained Most Worthy and
Honorable Names As Enterprising Public Spirited Citizens,
Standing For The Best Things For Our Citizenship
          The Bassett Family so well known in this county, held their reunion at the Shelbyville fair grounds today, it was a big affair indeed, most delightful and enjoyable in many particulars.  The Bassett family is an ancient one, tracing back to France before the days of William the Conqueror.  Many of them stood out as leaders in those warlike times and were aids and counsellors of Kings, eminent on the bench and otherwise distinguished.  Some of the Bassett's came early to this country, William Bassett reaching Plymouth Rock in 1621.  He would have been here on the Mayflower, but waited a year for a bride, and from what I know of a number of Bassett men now, William Bassett was a genuine Bassett.  These Shelby county Bassett's would wait, not only one year for a good wife, but several years, but they would most assuredly wage a most strenuous and ardent campaign to win her sooner. In this column is given a brief sketch of the Bassett family and it is an honorable history.  While the present Bassett's are proud of their ancestors, the ancient Bassett's, could they but know, would be equally as proud of their descendants.  The Bassett's of today, who keep step with the march and progress of events occupy places in the front ranks in the vocations and businesses in which they are called. Now as to the ladies. They certainly lose nothing by a comparison with their progenitors, who may have associated with Queens and princesses in their own right, born so and crowned as such by the hands of loving and tender hands of fathers, brothers, sons and sweethearts, and it is with sweet and royal grace they wore those crowns. As to the culinary art, I am putting all my money on the ladies of the Bassett family of today. Those living right here in Shelby county. Even the famous Martha, whose husband had inscribed on her tombstone "My wife, Martha, her picked up dinners were a perfect success," is not in this class. Her husband would have fared much better if he had been with us today under the shade of the old beech trees in the Shelby county fair grounds.  The dinner was bounteous and superb in every particular, it was a joy and delight to be there.
          Nymphas Bassett came to the state of Indiana in the year 1820.  He was always desirous of living on the frontier of civilization.  Probably his ancestors had the same propensities as well as some of his descendants.  He was born in Vermont in about the year 1782 and when a young man moved to New York State where he married Thankful Ann Bruce about the year 1806.  He moved to Ohio about 1816.  When he moved to Indiana in 1820 he settled in Marion township, Shelby county.  He entered several tracts of land and purchased other lands. At one time he owned more than 600 acres.   He tilled the soil and cleared many acres and fitted it for plow. When he was 91 years of age he started in an emigrant wagon to Arkansas to enter and purchase land, and died before reaching his destination.  He was probably related to the Bassett families of the New England States.  The Bassett's are numerous in the East. They have a national association and have prepared the following history of the family, dealing with the origin of the name and achievements. "LeBas is a well known French surname.  The Anglo Saxon form is  Bass,  Basse,  Bassi,  Bassure,  Bassite  or  Bassett. Other variations of the name are  Bassano,  Basselin,  Basseville,  Bassantien  and  Bassianus." It is a popular tradition that the name being of French origin, came from the word Bas, meaning, in the construction, short of stature. Before surnames were known, Henry, for example, was a youth, who may have lacked some inches of being six feet-that was an age of giants-therefore Henry was designated  LeBas. In time the name belonged to him and to his descendants. Or the name may have orginated with Basque. A native of Basque province was spoken of as a Basque, which through corruption became Bass or Bassett. One of the Basque legions has to do with a Bass-Andie, a land mermaid who sits in a cave combing her golden locks with a golden comb. "Bassett-the extra 't' was not added until the fifteenth century - is a name on Battle Abbey Roll. William, the conqueror's grand falconer, who accompanied him from Normandy's, was Thurston de Bassett; from him are descended all who now bear the name. Cornwall and Devonshire have always been strongholds of the family and the mines of Cornwall gave them princely incomes. Two distinguished members were Sir Francis Bassett, vice admiral in the time of Charles I, and another Sir Francis in time of George III, who was made Baron Bassett as well as Baron of  Dunstanville in the time of Henry I. Osmand Bassett was judge of all Britain, so was his great-grandson in the reign of Henry III. Ralph Bassett attended Edward I in the Welsh wars. Our historian mentions the 'Castelet or Pile of Bassett' in Tehidy, Wales. This was Sir Ralph. "Alan Bassett's name appears in the Magna Charta among those of the King's counselors, also his brother Thomas' name. Peter Bassett was bio- grapher of Henry V and his chamberlain and intimate friend. Fulk Bassett, bishop of London, is remembered in the records of St. Paul's Cathedral on account of his gifts to that church. On the parchment of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, is an epitaph to a Colonel Bassett.
          The first of the name in this country was William Bassett, or Bassiet, who came over in the Fortune in 1621. The story is that he intended joining the Mayflower Pilgrims but waited for his bride. He was an educated man and brought his box of books with him, a large library for those days. His name is in the earliest list of freemen-that was made in 1633. He was for six years representative to the old Colony court; he helped lay out Dunsbury, and was in the Pequot war and was truly a man of affairs. As son, grandson, and great grandson were named William, which is a favorite name in the family. "William Henry Harrison, president of the United States, got his first name from the Bassett family, to which his mother belonged. Ambassador Thomas F. Bayard's mother was also a Bassett, a grand-daughter of  Richard Bassett, Govenor of Delaware, and member of the convention of 1787, which framed the United States Constitution. He was the first to cast a vote for the removal of the capital from Philadelphia to Washington. "Another William Bassett, settler, was aged nine when he reached the shores of America in the good ship Abigail.  John Bassett came from England to New Haven in 1634 on the ship Christian and settled in Connecticut. Another progenitor of the American family of Bassetts was Joseph. The Bassetts have always taken prominent parts in the Nation's development. They helped to subdue both forests and Indians and were to the fore in Revolutionary times. Their war record goes back many centuries. Was not Sir Philip Bassett a doughty warrior, who, when called upon to surrender, declared that he would never yield so long as he could stand upright. His blood flows in the veins of the Marshal of England, through his daughter, who married the Earl of Norfolk in the time of Charles I. Sir Philip married for his second wife the daughter of the Earl of Salisbury, who was the widow of the Earl of Warrick. One of our Revolutionary heroes was Abraham Bassett, who was in the battle of Long Island and White Plains.  Over one hundred and fifty Bassett's from Massachusetts alone were in the Revolution.  There is hardly a state in the union that cannot boast of a Bassett within its borders, and when the family meet in annual conclave, usually at Boston, it is with sublime satisfaction that there are so many of them and that they are all so good looking and well behaved.   This is a quotation from a speech at one of the meetings, where much that is flattery and nothing that is disagreeable enters into the program for the day-but this is the way of family reunions.  With George Elliot we all agree that it is a fine thing for a child to grow up with the idea that the stars belong to his father's door-yard.  One Bassett who came to the meeting without a pedigree, or at least of so little account, as he said, that he brought it in his vest pocket, was made president of the association, so strong was their appeal for sympathy.  Many anecdotes are related at the meetings; one of the best is that of a fore father, who was so appreciative of his wife's skill in the culinary line, that he is said to have inscribed upon her tombstone, "My wife, Martha, her picked up dinners were a perfect success."
Submitted by Barb Huff

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