Thomas and Betsy GIPSON BASS

        Thomas BASS was born about 1805 in Tennessee. (In 1880 Thomas said he was born in Alabama and his parents in Louisiana and in 1910 his son, Jeff, said Thomas was born in South Carolina.) Thomas married about 1841, probably in Tennessee, Elizabeth .Betsy or Lizzie GIPSON, who was born about 1815 in Tennessee. The family was probably related to the free black family of BASS who lived in Northampton Co., N.C., who were of mixed African, English and Nansemond Indian ancestry. Many of the family married into prosperous white families in North Carolina during colonial days.

        On the 1830 census of Bedford Co., Tenn., is a free man of color, Thomas BASS (p 108). Other free African Americans listed in that county in 1830 were Lemuel BASS (p 108), John BASS (p98), and James BASS (p 98). It is not known if this Thomas BASS is the same as the one who moved to Illinois, but he is the only Thomas BASS on the 1830 census of Tennessee.

        Thomas and Elizabeth settled in Union County in 1851 from Henry Station, Henry Co., Tenn. Thomas BASS first appears on the 1854 tax list, which valued his personal property at $15 and charged him 14 cents in taxes. They are on the1855 state census of Union County. In the household were eight males and two females, free persons of color. Their livestock was worth $25. In 1856, Thomas was living in township 11 south, range 1 west, when his personaJ property was valued at $77 and he paid 97 cents in taxes. He was not found on the 1857 tax list, but was located in township 11 south, range 1 west in 1858 and paid $1.40 in taxes on personal property worth $131.

        On 13 Jun 1858, Nancy HAGLER, a white woman, appeared before Abner KEITH, a justice of the peace in Ridge Township, Union County, and swore that Thomas BASS "did about the last of March 1857 come to my house and threaten me and laid holt of me and threw me down by force and overpowered me by strength and accomplished his will." Why Nancy waited over a year to officially accuse BASS is unknown, but Thomas was charged with rape and arrested. On 15 Jun 1858, Jacob ZIMMERMAN posted bail to get Thomas released. The charges were eventually dropped and the case never went to trial. Such serious charges against a black man in antebellum America were life threatening and one can only assume from the little evidence available that the woman must have recanted her story and thereby saved the life of Thomas BASS. It is also possible that Nancy died before the case came to trial.

        Nancy HAGLER was probably Nancy LOOKINBEE, who was born about 1828 in North Carolina, the daughter of Christian LOOKINBEE, who died 10 Sep 1843, in Union Co., Ill. Nancy married on 1 Apr 1849, in Union Co., Ill., Charles HAGLER, who was born about 1827 in Illinois. On the 1860 census of Cobden Precinct, Union Co., Ill. (household 493), Charles HAGLER appears as living alone, five houses from Thomas BASS. Jacob ZIMMERMAN, who posted BASS's bail, was a prominent man in Union County and served as a justice of the peace and Illinois legislator from 1838 to 1840. There was also a family connection between the ZIMMERMANs and HAGLERs, as James ZIMMERMAN married Barbara HAGLER on 28 Jul 1842, in Union Co., Ill. Jacob ZIMMERMAN's daughter, Matilda ZIMMERMAN, married George W. FERRILL, whose father, Thomas FERRILL, served as character witnesses for the BROWNs, free African American settlers in Union County in 1835.

        In 1859 Thomas BASS owned $77 in personal property and paid 88 cents in taxes. Thomas and Betsy appear on the 1860 census of Cobden Township, Union County (household 488). The family was recorded as black. Thomas was a laborer and Betsy's occupation was listed as servant. They were both illiterate and their personal property was worth $175. On the 1860 agriculture census of Cobden, Union County, Thomas BASS is shown as owning no land. His farming implements Were worth $25 and his livestock which included 2 horses, 3 oxen, 6 cattle, 5 swine, was worth $175. He ff&d 100 bushels of wheat, 600 bushels of Indian corn, 25 bushels of oats, 2 bushels of beans, 10 bushels of Irish potatoes, 50 bushels of sweet potatoes and 100 pounds of butter. Animals slaughtered were worth $25.

        In 1861 Thomas BASS paid $1.23 on personal property worth $145, in 1863 he paid $2.10 on personalty valued at $180, in 1864 he paid $2.66 on $197, in 1865 he paid $8.90 in personal property taxes on $340. Of the 1865 tax, $5.10 was the district school tax. In 1869, Thomas was taxed $3.64 (of which $1.44 was the school tax) for personal property worth $170, in 1870 he was taxed $1.55 on $160, in 1873 he paid $6.81 on $230, in 1874 he paid $4.29 on $240, in 1875 he paid $6.82 on $337, in 1876 he paid $3.08 on $130. The collector for the 1877 tax wrote that Thomas was "not found" and his $3.69 tax on personal property worth $117 was not marked paid. In 1878 Thomas paid $6.65 in taxes on $101 worth of personal propertyand in 1879 he paid $3.07 on $126. In 1883, Thomas BASS paid $3.92 in taxes on personal property valued at $85. Two dollars of the 1883 tax was for the two dogs Thomas owned. The dog tax was added in Union County in the early 1880s, because dogs were viewed as a nuisance to the sheep herders of the county.

        Betsy BASS died between 1865 and 1870, but Thomas appears on the 1870 census of Cobden Township, Union Co., Ill. (household 206), as a farmer whose personal property was worth $500. He is also on the 1880 census of Cobden Township (household 83/92). The census reports that Thomas's five daughters living at home in 1880 had attended school that year. Illinois public schools were still segregated during this time. The only school for African Americans which the BASS children might have attended was in Cobden. The Jonesboro Gazette on 15 act 1870, reported that, "The colored school opened on Tuesday morning last under the supervision of Mrs. P.H. FELLOWS, who they say is the equal to the emergency. It is composed of negroes, young and old. They think they should have a big bell on their new schoolhouse." A schoolhouse was erected in Cobden in 1875 and in 1883 there were about 40 children attending.

        The BASS family lived near Makanda and were a part of a settlement called Toppingtown. The BASS family, with the DENTON family and the MATTHEWSes, were the founders of Rock Hill Baptist Church in 1871. The Rev. BENTON and the Rev. Charles ORR of Cobden were the organizing pastors. Charles ORR was a farmer in Cobden Precinct and was born about 1839 in Kentucky. His wife, Rella, was born about 1857 in Tennessee (1880 census household 51-59). They used the old Baptist church which set on the bluff above the Methodist church in Makanda. In 1974, Sam DICKERSON, age 95, remembered that when he was a child the white people would listen to the black choir on Sundays. He said there was no prettier sound to be heard.

         The Jonesboro Gazette reported on 17 Aug 1872, "The colored citizens of Cobden intend holding a barbecue at that place on Thursday, 22nd Aug, for the benefit of the colored church. They expect several guest speakers to be present and intend to have a good time generally. J. W. WILLIAMS is chairman of the committee of the arrangements and as he is a thorough-going, enterprising fellow, everything will doubtless be done up in good sty1e."

        The church soon moved to Carbondale and located on Walnut Street, a block from the Illinois Central Railroad tracks. This site is now the grounds of a government housing project for low-income and elderly persons. Baptisms were held in Snyder's Hole on South Wall Street opposite what is now university housing. The church was simple and unsophisticated with no electricity, but only kerosene lamps for lighting. In the early 1920s the building was moved to South Marion Street by rolling it on logs and using teams of horses and mules. In 1925, a new building was erected at a cost of $50,000 during the ministry of the Rev. G.W. PRINCE.

Children of Thomas BASS:

1.        John BASS was born about 1842 in Tennessee and married on 2 Apr 1863, in Union Co., Ill. , Melvina DEW, a daughter of Haywood DEW. There is also a marriage record for John BASS to Martha REED, both black, in Jackson Co., Ill., on 6 May 1875. John BASS is on the 1875 tax list of township 11 south, range 3 west, in Union County. He owned personal property worth $114 and was taxed $5.14. The collector did not mark it paid, however, and wrote in the margin, "Jackson County."

2.        Henry BASS was born about 1843 in Tennessee.

3.        William BASS was born about 1844 in Tennessee.

4.        Richard BASS was born 8 act 1845 in Henry Station, T enn. He enlisted as a private in Co. B, 3rd Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery on 8 Oct 1864, at Springfield, Ill. His physical description was 5'6", with a dark complexion, black eyes and dark hair. He was hospitalized at General Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., for rheumatism and heart disease from exposure in May 1865 and was honorably discharged on 29 May 1865, at Memphis, Tenn. He lived in Cobden, Union County, and in Jackson Go., Ill., after the Civil War until 1886, when he moved to Decatur, Macon Co., Ill. In 1892, when he applied for a pension, he was a resident of Makanda, Jackson Go., Ill. Wilson MURRAY swore that he knew Richard and that he had heart disease and complained of rheumatism. In 1894, Charles STAMPS of Murphysboro, Jackson Co., Ill., (who married Unna KIMBLE on 14 Dec 1882, in Jackson Co., Ill.) and in 1895, William PORTER of Grand Prairie Township, Jefferson Go., Ill., swore the same. Richard received a pension of $12 a month. In 1910 he moved to Cedar Rapids, Linn Co., Iowa. Richard died 12 Jan 1929, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Richard married on 1 Oct 1875, Minnie WATKINS, who died 21 Apr 1877. He married 2nd on 26 Dec 1883, Lizzie GILES, who died 23 Jan 1887, in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson Co., Ill. He married 3rd on 26 Dec 1890, in Murphysboro, Jackson Co., Ill., Phoebe GILES, who was born in 1872 in Villa Ridge, Pulaski Co., In., the daughter of Johnny and Della GIBESBY GILES. (This third marriage was not mentioned in the pension file of Richard and is possibly the same as his second marriage to Lizzie G ILES and Richard was confused about the years. The marriage license for the 1890 marriage to Phoebe states that this was his second marriage.) John GILES married Davidela "Della" GILES in Pulaski Co., Ill., on 27 Feb 1870. Phoebe GILES is on the 1880 census of Pulaski Go., Ill., (household 7) in Villa Ridge Precinct. Her father, John GILESwas born in 1815 in Mississippi and her mother, Delia GILES was born in 1820 in Mississippi. In addition to Phoebe, they also had a daughter, Delia born in 1866 and a son, George GILES born in 1868 in Illinois. Richard married 4th on 15 Dec 1900, in Decatur, Ill., Neo Nettie WALTER JOHNSTON. They were married by the Rev. JACKSON of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

a. Evelyn Pauline BASS was born 24 Nov 1901

b. Richard BASS Jr. was born 24 Oct 1903

c. Clarence Theodore BASS was born 11 Jan 1906

d. Nettie Isabelle BASS was born 17 Jun 1908

5.        Robert BASS was born about 1849 in Tennessee and married on 5 Jun 1875, in Jackson Co., Ill., Syntha O'NEAL. Robert BASS was listed on the 1870 census of Bond Co., Ill., living in the household of William BRACKEN. BRACKEN was forrnerly from Union Co., Ill., and his niece, Melvina S. DEW married Robert's brother, John BASS.

6.        Thomas BASS was born about 1850 in Union Go., Ill., and married on 4 Jun 1885, in Union Co., Ill., Malinda MATTHEWS, who was born about 1869 in Kentucky, the 16-year-old daughter of Joseph and Nancy KELSER MATTHEWS (Marriage Book 6 page 246). When his second child was born in 1888, Thomas's occupation was a fruit grower. On 15 Dec 1884, Joseph Sr. and Mary E. RENDLEMAN sold to Thomas, James and Jefferson BASS, brothers, for $300, the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 9, township 11 south, range 1 west, 40 acres (Book 37 p 419). The brothers sold this land for $640 to Robert CASPER (Book 44 p 192).


b. Charles Lewis BASS was born 3 May 1888, in Toppingtown, Union Co., Ill. (Birth Register 2 p 209) and died 23 Aug 1890, of cereno spinal fever and was buried in Lacadonia Cemetery (Death Book 2, # 1803).

7.        George BASS was born between 1852 and 1855 in Illinois and married on 4 Mar 1883, in Toppingtown, Union Co., Ill., Clara "Clary" WALTON, who was born about 1857, the daughter of Jorden WALTON. George was descnbed as a "yellow African" and Clara was described as a "black African" on the marriage license. They were married by the Rev. J.H. KNOWLES and witnesses included N.C. DENTON, G.W. STARKES and "a lardge congration." George BASS was taxed 51 cents for personal property valued at $22 in 1883. The tax collector did not mark the taxes paid and wrote in the margin "Jackson County." George BASS and wife Clara of Carbondale, Jackson Co., Ill., sold to Charles A. SHEPPARD for $222, 40 acres in the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 9, township 11 south, range 1 west on 26 May 1891.

8.        Jefferson C. "Jeff" BASS was born 12 April 1858, in Cobden Township, Union Co., Ill., and married on 14 Nov 1886, in Union Co., Ill., Georgia Ann CONNER, who was born January 1869 in Carbondale, Jackson Co., Ill., died 1902-1910, the daughter of George C. and Hanner (or Helen) WOODS CONNER (Marriage Book 6 page 308). Georgia is on the 1870 census of Casper Township, Union Co., Ill., (household 258/256) with her parents. Her father, George CONNER, was a farmer, whose real estate was worth $700 and his personal property $100. Also in the family was Georgia's 3-year-old sister, Eva C. CONNER. Jefferson and Georgia are on the 1900 census of Cobden Township, Union Co., Ill. (household 145/147). He was a farmer and owned his own farm and could read and write. On the 1910 census, he was still living in Cobden Township (household 116/117). In 1920 in Cobden Precinct his occupation was listed as truck farmer (household 31!30). Jefferson and Georgia Ann BASS sold to John SULLIVAN of Makanda, Jackson Co., Ill., 3 acres in the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 3, township 11 south, range 1 west on 4 Sep 1889 for $100 (Book 44 p 30). Jefferson purchased this from Washington STARKS of  Makanda for $50 on 10 Nov 1888 (Book 45 p 125). John and his wife, Eugenie SULLIVAN of Makanda then sold this 3 acres and another 58 acres in the west half of the northwest quarter of section 3, township 11 south, range 1 west for $840 on 1 Oct 1893 (Book 45 p 125). On 25 Feb 1908, Jefferson mortgaged to Martha Ann LEWIS for $80 part of the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 3, township 11 south, range 1 west (Book 20 p 539). Jefferson C. BASS died 20 Aug 1935, and was buried in Wilkins Cemetery, Makanda Township, Jackson Co., Ill.

a. Cora Della BASS (male?) was born 16 Jan 1888, north of Cobden, Union Co., Ill. (Birth Register 2 p 198 and Or. AGNEW's records).

b. Ora Belle BASS was born 23 Sep 1889, north of Cobden, Union Co., Ill. (Birth Register 2 p 225).

        (1) Harold Leonard BASS was born 11 Oec 1905, in North Cobden, Union Co., Ill. Or. AGNEW in reporting his birth said his mother, Ora Belle BASS "is a maiden yet worse for wear." The father's name was unknown, but he was a 21-year-old native of Kentucky. His occupation was recorded as "adulterer."

c. Frank J. BASS was born 12 Nov 1890 in North Cotxfen, Union Co., Ill. (birth date on his grave marker is 12 Nov 1891 ), and died 7 May 1917, age 25 years, 5 months and 25 days. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery, Carbondale, Jackson Co., Ill., row 3.

d. Albert Henry BASS was born 12 Jun 1894 in Union Co., Ill.

e. Joel Lee "Jewell" BASS was born 6 Apr 1902, in North Cobden, Union Co., Ill. He was living with his father in 1920.

9.        James BASS was born about 1854 in Union Co., Ill., and married on 22 Nov 1886, in Union Co., Ill., Susan MATTHEWS, born about 1869 in Kentucky, the 17-year-old daughter of Joseph and Nancy KELSER MA TTHEWS (Marriage Book 6 page 309). Susan was the sister of Malinda MATTHEWS, who married James's brother, Thomas BASS. a (male) BASS born 13 Aug 1887, in Union Co., Ill. (Birth Register 2 p 186).

10.        Martha C. BASS was born about 1855 or 1856 in Illinois. She was a resident of Murphysboro, Jackson Co., Ill., when she married in October 1879 Luther ALLEN, a 24-year-old farrner in Murphysboro, Jackson Co., Ill. He was born about 1854 in Tennessee, the son of Buck ALLEN. Luther was a farmer and he and Martha appear on the 1880 census of Somerset Township, Jackson Co., Ill. In August 1898, in Jackson Co., Ill., Martha filed for divorce from Luther (Box 2, file 99). The divorce appears to have been granted, as Luther remarried on 5 Nov 1898, in Jackson Co., Ill., Sadie McGEE, who was born about 1879 in Chester, Randolph Co., Ill., the daughter of Alf. and Mary J. McGEE. Luther was a farmer in Kincaid Township, Jackson Co., Ill.

        a. Freddie ALLEN was born about 1879. He is listed on the 1880 census as a stepson of Luther ALLEN. Martha probably had Freddie out of wedlock, before she married Luther.

11.        Parilee BASS was born in October 1859 in Union Co., Ill., and married 19 Nov 1880, in Union Co., Ill., Perry GILES, who was born 15Oct 1859, in Eudora, Chicot Co., Ark. Parilee's name also appears as Rhoda on census records. Perry appears on the 1880 census of Union County (household 87). He was a farm worker for Joseph and Lucinda RANSOM BELL in Cobden Precinct. In 1881, when his first child was born, Perry worked as a section hand on the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1900, when he and his family were living in a rented house in Makanda, Jackson Co., In., he still worked for the railroad. Parilee was the mother of four children of whom three were living (household 7). On the 1920 census, Perry was living alone on S. Marion Street in Carbondale (household 35). He was a widower and a tie carrier at the tie plant in Carbondale. Perry GILES died 14 Jul 1920, of apoplexy in Carbondale, Jackson Co., Ill. He did not receive immediate attention from a physician when he became ill. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Carbondale (Death Record 6 p 137). He left an estate, which consisted of a $1,000 life insurance policy with Equitable Life Assurance Society and $9 from Maryland Casualty Co., "back compensation due Perry GILES at the time of his death." Herbert A. HAYES was appointed administrator 22 Nov 1920 (Division A, Box 88, file 3364). Perry's daughter, Lovie, was his only heir and received $898.50.

a. Grace Lee GILES born 27 Aug 1881, north of Cobden, Union Co., Ill. (Birth Book 2 p 44 and Dr. Agnew's records). She died before 1920.

b. Cora Belle GILES was born 21 Jan 1883. Dr. AGNEW wrote "still born before my arrival."

c. GILES was born 9Jun 1883. Dr. AGNEW wrote "abortion third month."

b. Lovie C.D. GILES was born in April 1883 in Illinois. The 1883 year of birth, copied from the 1900 census, may be in error. She married VAWTE R.

c. Stella M. GILES was born in February 1885 in Illinois. Both she and her sister, Lovie, had attended school in 1900. Stella married on 25 Mar 1905, in Murphysboro, Jackson Co., Ill., HaffordWILlIAMS. He was born in 1881 in Tennessee, the son of Robert and MarthaTHORP(?)WILLIAMS. She died before 1920.

12.        Joel BASS was born about 1859 in Illinois. (On the 1860 census, Joel's name appears as Anonymous, perhaps because his parents had not yet named him).

13.        Mary BASS was born in Apri11861 in Union Co., In., and married on 19 Feb 1883, in Union Co., Ill., Gideon "Gid" MALON E, who was born in March 1861 in Kentucky, the son of Sanford and MarySMITH MALONE (Marriage Book 5 page 306). Gideon was a laborer in Makanda when he married and when his first child was born. This was Gideon's second marriage. When Gideon's brother, George MALONE, married Julia MITCHELL, on 26 Oct 1880, in Jackson Co., Ill., his license records his parents as Sanford and Mary STARKS MALONE. George was born about 1857 in Kentucky, and Julia, the daughter of Sam and Ann PARKER MITCHELL, was born about 1855 in Louisiana. Gideon and Mary are on the 1900 census of Makanda, Jackson Co., Ill. (household 15). He was a railroad laborer and rented his home.

a. Harry MALONE was born 8 Dec 1883, north of Cobden, Union Co., Ill. (Dr. AGNEW's records. Birth Register 2 p 104, has year of birth as 1884.) He was a railroad laborer in 1900. Harry married on 17 Feb 1913, in Jackson Co., Ill., Lela FOSTER, who was born about 1894, the daughter of Henry and Louisa WALLER FOSTER. When they married, Harry was working as a porter in Murphysboro, Jackson Co., Ill.

b. HarveyMALONE was born 7Apr 1886 (Dr. AGNEW'srecords)

c. William D. MALONE was born in May 1888 in Illinois.

d. Oscar D. MAL0NE was born in January 1892 in Illinois married Frances BUNION, who was born in Tennessee.

        (1) Oscar MALONE was born in September 1916 in Illinois and died 26 Apr 1916, of broncho pneumonia. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Carbondale, Ill. (Death Book 6 p 429).

        (2) Sed MALONE Jr. was born 25 Jul 1922, in Carbondale, and died 25 Jul 1922, in Carbondale. He was born dead from hereditary cause and was buried in Oakland Cemetery (Death Book 6 p 498). It is uncertain why Oscar named his son Sed. Jr..

e. Sylvia "Seva" MALONE was born in July 1895 in Makanda, Ill., and married on 26 Dec 1924, in Carbondale, Jackson Co., Ill., James McBRIDE, who was born about 1895 in bTennessee, the son of John and Mary TURNER(?) McBRIDE. This was James's second marriage.

14.        Polly A. (or Phena) BASS was born about 1864 in Cobden, UnionCo.,Ill., and married on 16 Sep 1886, in Union Go., Ill., Edgar WIlLIAMS, born about 1863 in Tennessee, the son of Samuel and Hetty (BASTEM) WILLIAMS. Edgar was a laborer in Makanda, Jackson Co., Ill., when he married.

a. (male) BASS born 2 Aug 1886, in Union Co., Ill. His birth certificate says that his mother was 22-year-old Polly A. BASS and his father was Edd WlllIAMS, a native of Tennessee and a laborer (Birth Register 2 p 164).

15.        Barnabas (or Barbara) BASS was born about 1865 in Illinois.

16.        Elizabeth BASS was born about 1866 in Illinois.

17.        Matilda BASS was born in September 1871 in Illinois. She was a boarder, living with the family of her sister, Parilee GILES in Makanda in 1900.