The Nansemond Indian Bass Family of Granville

The Bass family in Granville County is one of the larger, if not the largest Native American families in the county. It is a “core” lineage whose family members have intermarried with just about all other families of Native American descent in the community. The Basses have a well documented tribal origin with the Nansemond tribe who are indigenous to the Nansemond River area of lower tidewater Virginia. Today known as the Nansemond Indian Nation, the tribal nation received federal acknowledgement in 2018. Due to the rapid and increased colonization of the Nansemond homeland, many Basses settled in the “frontier” of North Carolina. The Bass family never lost knowledge of their Native American origins, and as a result, some of their descendants today can be found in a number of tribal communities such as: Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Occaneechi-Saponi, and Lumbee. This blog post follows the migration of the Nansemond Bass family from Norfolk, Virginia to Granville County.

Nansemond Tribal Origin

John Basse family tree
Family Tree of the first generations of Bass family. John Bass(e), a colonist, married Elizabeth, daughter of the chief of the Nansemond tribe. This blog post focuses on their grandsons Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) who moved to North Carolina. Note: this tree only names the children of William Bass and Catherine Lanier who had known living offspring. William Bass and Catherine Lanier had a daughter named Keziah Bass who is documented in the Bass family papers as being born on 30 October 1675 and died as a spinster (archaic word for an unmarried woman) in 1704. According to her own Bass family, Keziah Bass never married and had no surviving children when she died in 1704. The exact words in the Bass family papers: “Keziah Bass, Junior, daughter of William Bass & Catherine Lanier, entered into eternal life in the year of our lord & savior 1704, at 28 years. A pious Christian spinster”.  Any family trees that attach a husband named Edward Baldwin and children to Keziah Bass are not founded in any fact and are completely at odds with Nansemond tribal documents. © Kianga Lucas

Some of the source material for this blog entry comes from the research of Bass descendant and genealogist Lars Adams. Lars has invested a lot of time in correcting past research mistakes. Nikki Bass is another Bass descendant and researcher who publishes her Bass related genealogy in a blog here. I also drew from Paul Heinegg’s research on the Bass family as well as from Albert Bell’s book, Bass Families of the South (1961). Both Heinegg and Bell have made some errors in their Bass genealogies, so throughout this blogpost you will see some corrections that I have made with my own research. And finally it is important to point out that I author of this blog, Kianga Lucas, am a Nansemond Bass descendant which is how I first came to research the family and is why I am dedicated to preserving and sharing our family history. I believe it is imperative that we as Native peoples, lend voices to our own histories that have often been told by non-Natives.

The Nansemond branch of the English Bass family begins with the marriage in 1638 of John Bass(e) an English colonist to Elizabeth, baptized daughter of the chief of the Nansemond tribe. Their marriage was recorded in the Bass family sermon book that has survived to the present. Albert Bell’s book contained an incorrect transcription of this marriage record that falsely states Elizabeth’s name was “Keziah Elizabeth Tucker” and that her father was “Robin the elder”. However as you can read from a copy of the original marriage entry, her name is simply “Elizabeth” and her father’s name is not mentioned at all. “Keziah” is however a first name found frequently among descendants of the Nansemond Bass family, so it is possible that this mix-up comes from fractured memories of the family history. So if you are a Bass descendant or researcher, please check your family tree to make sure you have the correct information. Below is an image of the marriage:

Bass Family Bible transcription:
Bass Family Sermon Book transcription:
“John Basse married ye dafter of ye King of ye Nansemond Nation by name Elizabeth in Holy Baptizm and in Holy Matrimonie ye 14th day of August in ye yeare of Our Blessed Lord 1638 Dyed 1699 A.D.”

The Nansemond tribe is an Algonquian speaking tribe that at one point in history, was affiliated with the Powhatan Confederacy from the tidewater Virginia area that is today the modern city of Suffolk. As coastal people they were impacted very early on by European colonization. Below is a map of the locations of the sub-tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy:

Map of the Powhatan Confederacy. The Nansemond Tribe is circled in red. Source: Helen Rountree
Map of the Powhatan Confederacy. The Nansemond Tribe is circled in red.
Source: Helen Rountree

John Bass/e and Elizabeth the Nansemond had several children including a son named William Bass (1654-1741) who appears to have the most well documented descendants. William Bass was married to a woman named Catherine Lanier and they made their home in what was then known as Lower Norfolk County, Virginia along the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River. William Bass Sr and Catherine Lanier had the following children:

  • *Edward Bass b. 19 Oct 1672
  • *John Bass b. 4 Dec 1673
  • Keziah Bass b. 30 Oct 1675
  • *William Bass b. 28 Oct 1676
  • Joseph Bass b. 21 Dec 1678
  • Mary Bass b. 15 Jun 1681
  • *Thomas Bass b. 13 Nov 1687

Four sons: Edward, John, William, and Thomas are known to have had children and living descendants today. Sons William Bass Jr (1676 – 1761) and Thomas Bass (1687-?) and their descendants primarily remained in the Norfolk, VA area with Thomas Bass’ grandson William Bass (b. 1762) and his descendants moving across the state line into Camden County, NC and neighboring counties beginning in the late 1700s. These Basses commonly intermarried with other FPOC families such as: Hall, Perkins, Price, Archer, Newton, and Nickens.

On the other hand, sons Edward Bass (1672 – 1750) and John Bass (1673- 1732) relocated to North Carolina and their descendants I will document in the following sections. The descendants of both Edward Bass and John Bass are found in Granville.

William Bass Sr in 1726/1727 received a certificate from the Norfolk Co, VA court stating that:

An Inquest pertaining to possession and use of Cleared and Swamp lands in and adjoining ye Great Dismal by William Bass, Sr. and His kinsmen who claim Indian Privileges, Sheweth by the testimony of White Persons and sundry records of great age and known to be authentic, That said William Bass, Thomas Bass, and Joseph Bass and spinister daughter Mary Bass are persons of English and Nansemond Indian descent with no admixture of negro, Ethiopic, and that they and all others in kinship with them are freeborn subjects of his Majesty living in peace with his Majesty’s Government entitled to possess and bear arms as permitted by Treaties of Peace by and between Charles II of blessed memory and ye Indians of Virginia and the said William Bass, Sr. and als are in Rightful, and Lawful possession thereof and are not to be further Molested by any person or persons whatsoever under any pretended Authority under Penalties etc. etc., whilst ye said Bass and his kinsmen claim Indian privileges pursuant to the aforesaid Treaties of Peace.

17 day of March 1726/27

Solo. Wilson, Cl. Cur.

William Bass’ sons Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) are not included in this certificate because they had already relocated to North Carolina several years prior. However it is important to note that this certificate extended to all of William Bass’ kin who were not specifically named in the certificate. This is a compelling detail because it demonstrates that William Bass had the foresight to ensure all of his relations had these same treaty rights. 

Later William Bass’ son William Bass Jr (1676-1761) received a similar certificate in 1742 that read:

William Bass, the Bearer, tall, swarthy, dark eyes, weight abt. 13 stone, scar on back of left hand, is of English & Indian descent with no admixture of negro blood, numbered as a Nansemun by his own Choosing. The sd. Bass dwells in this County and hath a good name for his industry and honesty.

Clearly the Bass family early on was attempting to document and secure their Nansemond Indian identity and treaty rights and in order to do this, it required them to distance themselves from any “negro admixture”. This theme of distancing and denying African admixture, in order to substantiate Indian identity is a common theme throughout Native American communities in the Southeast. And it has unfortunately had devastating effects that fractured families who had relatives deemed “too African” in phenotypical appearance. It has also impacted the political recognition of tribal communities. Even the Native Americans of Granville County adamantly denied African admixture as can be seen in the writings of local historian Oscar Blacknall that you can read more about here. Elder cousins have shared anecdotal stories with me on the topic of race/racial appearance, that are consistent with Blacknall’s observations about our community.

Augustus Bass sitting on the far left with other members of his family in Norfolk County, VA (modern Chesapeake). Augustus Bass is a descendant of William Bass Jr (167 ), whose family remained in Virginia.
Augustus Bass sitting on the far left with other members of his family in Norfolk County, VA.
Augustus Bass is a descendant of William Bass Jr (1676-1761), whose family remained in Norfolk, Virginia.

William Bass Sr, wrote a will on 1 Oct 1740 which was proved on 17 Sep 1742 in Norfolk County. In the will, William gives his sons William, Edward and Thomas only one shilling each. He gave to his son Joseph Bass, his “waring cloaths” and left his land and anything else to his daughter Mary in the hopes that she salvage what is left. Clearly, William Bass was not in good financial standing at the time of his death. Son John Bass (1673-1732) is not named in the will because he predeceased his father. This is also true for William’s daughter Keziah Bass who died in 1704. It is important to point out that by 1740, son Edward Bass (1672-1750) had lived in North Carolina for twenty years, yet his father William Bass still made sure to include him in his will. This shows that Edward Bass was still in touch with his family and community back in Norfolk, VA. 

William Bass will
This is the original handwritten will of William Bass (1654-1741). Source: Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983; Norfolk; Original Wills, 1693; page 427.
William Bass will abstract
Transcription of the will of William Bass dated 1 Oct 1740 and proved on 17 Sep 1742 in Norfolk Co, VA

Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) in Norfolk, Virginia

Before moving to North Carolina, brothers Edward Bass and John Bass spent the early part of their adulthood in Norfolk. On 17 Nov 1698, Edward Bass appeared in Norfolk court to admit that he owed 500 lbs of tobacco to Hugh Campbell. Hugh Campbell was a Scottish born merchant who was licensed to operate in the West Indies and who later settled in Norfolk. Campbell was also a merchant of human chattel when it was recorded on 8 Jun 1680 that he was paid for transporting an enslaved Indian woman of Bermuda into the Virginia colony. The following year on 16 Nov 1699, Edward Bass purchased 15 acres of land on the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River, from John Fulcher. This is the same John Fulcher whose 1712 will freed the Anderson slaves. Over the next several generations, the offspring of these freed slaves repeatedly intermarried with Edward Bass’ offspring. The Andersons moved with the Basses out of Norfolk and into Granville and became one of the core families of the community. My blog post on the Andersons can be found here. Thus, it appears there is a yet unknown direct relationship between Edward Bass and John Fulcher (perhaps Edward Bass’ wife was a relative of John Fulcher?).

In June 1702, Edward Bass was back in Norfolk court to admit he owed 70 lbs of tobacco to Thomas Winfield from items he purchased at the estate sale of William Whitehurst. And on 15 Nov 1709, Edward Bass sued Henry Lawley for a 3 lb debt. Edward Bass was brought to the Norfolk court again on 20 July 1711 for retailing liquor without a license. The charges were subsequently dropped. On 16 Dec 1715, Edward Bass sued John Muns Jr for 20 lbs for unlawfully riding his mare. There are additional Norfolk records which show a pattern of Edward Bass being harassed by his Anglo neighbors through a series of lawsuits that were dismissed by the courts. Ultimately what we can learn from these records is that Edward Bass was a land owner on the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River, likely had a farm, and earned enough money to make large purchases. The records also demonstrate his knowledge of the laws and court system, as he was a plaintiff in a few of the cases. This pattern of harassment by his Anglo neighbors may have played a large part in Edward Bass’ leaving the area and moving to the North Carolina frontier.

To date, located records for his brother John Bass in Norfolk are not nearly as numerous. On 15 October 1701 in Norfolk court, John Bass paid the costs for a suit brought against him by Thomas Hodges. This is the only record I know of for John Bass in Norfolk. Hopefully more records are uncovered for him, to better understand his life and his relationships in Norfolk before he settled in North Carolina.

Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) Move to North Carolina

Bass Map Movement
This map shows the movement of brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) from their Nansemond homeland in Virginia to North Carolina and that they moved together from Norfolk, to Horsepool Swamp, and then to Urahaw Swamp. All of Edward Bass’ children and four of John Bass’ children moved and settled in Granville County by the 1750s. © Kianga Lucas

From here our discussion shifts to documenting Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) movement into North Carolina. Let’s first start with Edward Bass. The last known record of him in Norfolk was recorded in 1715. By 1720/1721, Edward Bass owned land in Horsepool Swamp in Chowan County (modern Gates County), North Carolina. In that land deed dated 30 January 1720/21, he is called “Edward Bass of Norfolk County, Virginia, Parish of Elizabeth”, so we know he is the same Edward Bass from Norfolk. Edward Bass did not remain on the Horsepool Swamp land for long, because on 26 March 1723 he purchased 200 acres of land along Urahaw Swamp in what was then Bertie County and what is today Northampton County, NC. On 28 March 1726, he sold his Horsepool Swamp land. Over the next couple of decades, Edward Bass purchased an additional 615 acres of land adjoining his Urahaw Swamp land in Northampton County, bringing his total land ownership to 815 acres.  On 25 July 1748, Edward Bass wrote his will which was proved in August 1750.  The will named Edward Bass’ children who all inherited shares of their father’s land, thus making it possible to trace out his descendants. The will also named Edward Bass’ widow as Lovewell. She was called “Love”, when she and husband Edward Bass sold their Horsepool Swamp land in 1726. There is no surviving marriage record for the couple, so Lovewell’s maiden name and origin in unknown. Edward Bass likely married her when he still resided in Norfolk, so she is perhaps from one of families who were neighbors to the Basses and perhaps she was Nansemond.

All of Edward Bass’ children moved from Northampton to Granville County beginning in the 1750’s. Soon after settling in Granville, they sold their shares of land in Northampton that they inherited from their father. The Anderson family who was freed in 1712 in Norfolk, made the move with the Basses to Northampton County and then to Granville County where the families continued to frequently intermarry.  When Edward Bass’ children arrived in Granville, they became neighbors and intermarried with the already established and land owning Chavis, Harris, Pettiford, Hawley, Goins, Evans, and Mitchell families.

Edward Bass Family Tree
The family tree of Edward Bass (1672-1750) who was the grandson of John Bass/e and Elizabeth the Nansemond. His Northampton County will named all of his living children who each inherited a share of his land. All of Edward Bass’ children moved to Granville County and continued to intermarry with Native American/FPOC. It is interesting that Dinah Bass’ husband was named John Pone. “Pone” is a Virginia Algonquian word for unleavened cornbread and thus infers that John Pone, like his wife Dinah Bass, was of a Virginia Algonquian speaking background. © Kianga Lucas

The offspring of Edward Bass’ brother John Bass (1673-1732) are also found in the Granville community, but they are not as numerous as Edward’s offspring. John Bass was first married to Love Harris. A record of their marriage still exists:

John Bass and Love Harris marriage recorded in Perquimans County, NC. “John BAS and Love HARRIS was Married ye 8th day of Janewary 1696 both of Nanse Mum County and Nanse Mum Parresh by Mager Samuel SWANN Esqr.”
John Bass and Love Harris marriage recorded in Perquimans County, NC.
“John BAS and Love HARRIS was Married ye 8th day of Janewary 1696 both of Nanse Mum County and Nanse Mum Parresh by Mager Samuel SWANN Esqr.”

As researcher Lars Adams points out, despite John Bass and Love Harris both being residents of Nansemond County, VA (formerly Upper Norfolk County) they married in North Carolina. John Bass who was Indian and Love Harris who was probably white were a couple during a time period where Virginia passed strict laws forbidding interracial marriages. So they may have married in North Carolina where the laws against interracial marriages were not as strictly enforced.

John Bass purchased land that adjoined his brother Edward Bass’ land in Horsepool Swamp in Chowan County (now Gates Co), NC in 1720/1721. This shows a concerted effort by the brothers to remain close in North Carolina. And just like his brother Edward Bass, John Bass then moved to Urahaw Swamp in what was then Bertie County (now Northampton County) where he accumulated a total of 1,060 acres of land that adjoined his brother’s. John Bass died young in 1732. Fortunately he left a Bertie County will which divided his Urahaw Swamp land among his children. As a result, his children and their descendants are well documented in both the will and subsequent land deeds dealing with the division and sale of their inherited land.

It should be noted that John Bass’ will makes mention of his widow Mary, and in it, John leaves his plantation to her as gift for “bringing up my small children”. Since we have an earlier marriage record for John Bass to Love Harris, this would mean that Love died sometime earlier, and John Bass remarried Mary. The will seems to indicate that Mary helped raise the children that John Bass had with his previous wife. The will also confirms that Edward Bass and John Bass were siblings because in it, John Bass refers to his own land as being adjacent to his brother Edward Bass.

John Bass 1673 family tree
Family tree of John Bass (1673-1732) that shows his children and their spouses/partners if documented. Four of is his children: Sarah Bass, William, Bass, Lovey Bass, and Mary Bass moved from Urahaw Swamp to Granville County. © Kianga Lucas, Native American Roots

Some of John Bass’ children remained in Northampton County and neighboring/nearby counties including Bertie, Edgecombe, Nash and Halifax. These offspring typically intermarried with wealthy, slave owning, planter families, and from that point forward were documented as “white”. Subsequent generations moved to the deep South to expand their plantation economies. Other children moved to other parts of the state. For example, John Bass’ grandson Frederick Bass (b. 1750)  moved to Anson Co and some of his descendants can be found among the Lumbee Tribe in Robeson Co.

Four of John Bass’ children did join Edward Bass’ children in their relocation to Granville Co. They were Sarah Bass b. 1704, William Bass b. 1712, Lovey Bass b. 1720 and Mary Bass b. 1722. Sarah Bass b. 1704 was the wife of Lewis Anderson (1713-1785), of the freed Anderson family of Norfolk Co, so that explains why she moved to Granville. Lovey Bass b. 1712 was not married but had a partner with whom she had children with named George Anderson (1696-1771) who was also of the Anderson family. She also had at least one child with Bartlet Tyler (b. 1742) from the FPOC Tyler family of Native American origins, that often intermarried with and were neighbors to the Basses in Granville over subsequent generations. The wife of William Bass b. 1712 is unknown but I wonder if she was also an Anderson. Mary Bass b. 1722 married her first cousin Benjamin Bass (1722-1800) who was the son of Edward Bass (1672-1750). On 26 July 1784, Mary Bass (while married to Benjamin Bass) sold the 100 acres of land along the Urahaw Swamp that she inherited from her father John Bass in 1732. Just like Edward Bass’ children, John Bass’ children who moved to Granville married into and became a part of the Native American community.

****Mary Bass (1751-1844) and her husband  Benjamin Richardson (1750-1809) are my 5th great-grandparents and are the main progenitors of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe. Before Benjamin Richardson, Mary Bass was married to her first cousin Elijah Bass (1743-1781). It had been assumed by earlier researchers that Mary Bass (1751-1844) was the same Mary Bass who was the daughter of Thomas Bass and Thomasine Bunch of Bertie Co. Thomas Bass was a grandson of John Bass (1673-1732) and Love Harris. However I have extensively reviewed the records for Thomas Bass/Thomasine Bunch and their children and it is very clear that Mary Bass (1751-1844) was not their daughter. A closer examination of the records as well as DNA cousin matches, shows that Mary Bass (1751-1844) was the daughter of Benjamin Bass (1722-1800) and his wife Mary Bass (b. 1722). This means that Mary Bass (1751-1844) was the granddaughter of both Edward Bass (1672-1750) and his brother John Bass (1673-1732). ****

A Closer Look at Urahaw Swamp and Neighboring Tribes

The fact that brothers Edward Bass and John Bass moved to North Carolina at the same time and bought adjoining land deserves further scrutiny. The Urahaw Swamp land that was first purchased in 1722/1723 is of particular interest because Bartholomew Chavis (1685-1750) also owned land along Urahaw Swamp. Bartholomew Chavis was the father of original Granville County land owner William Chavis (1706-1777) whose large land tract provided the land base for the Native American community in Granville. The earliest records for Bartholomew Chavis are found in Henrico and Surry County, VA. By 1719/1720 he was living in North Carolina and started purchasing land along Urahaw Swamp just 2-3 years before the Bass brothers purchased land there.

Map of the southern portion of Northampton County, NC. I circled Urahaw Swamp which runs off of Potecasi Creek which I also circled. Potcesai Creek enters Northampton from the eastern border with Hertford. Urahaw Swamp breaks off from Potecasi and runs westward an ends on the northern side of the Roanake River along the Halifax County border. Source:
Map of the southern portion of Northampton County, NC. I circled Urahaw Swamp which runs off of Potecasi Creek which I also circled. Potecasi Creek enters Northampton from the eastern border with Hertford. Urahaw Swamp breaks off from Potecasi and runs westward and ends on the northern side of the Roanake River along the Halifax County border.

The Gibson family is another Native American family who are relevant to this discussion. The Gibsons were originally from Charles City County, Virginia where one of the earliest Gibson family members, Jane Gibson (the elder), was known as a free Indian woman. She is the female progenitor of the Evans family who settled in Granville. You can read my Evans/Gibson blog post here. The previously mentioned William Chavis (1706-1777)‘ wife was Frances Gibson. Her brother John Gibson who lived nearby, was a witness to a 1728 land purchase along Urahaw Swamp made by Edward Bass (1672-1750). This shows a direct earlier connection between the Basses and Gibsons. Two of John Gibson’s sons – George Gibson and Charles Gibson moved to Granville in 1750. This was the far southwestern part of the county that just two years later became Orange County. George and Charles Gibson did not stay in Orange County for along and moved around quite a bit with their descendants eventually leaving the state. William Chavis (1706-1777) also owned some land in Orange County and perhaps that is connected to George and Charles Gibson’s temporary residence there. Despite inheriting his father’s Northampton County land in 1750, William Chavis (1706-1777) continued to live in Granville County. William even continued to have additional land transactions in Northampton County but Granville was his primary residence as indicated in the tax records. So with William Chavis being the first from Urahaw Swamp to relocate to Granville, it appears the Bass/Anderson family followed him there several years later. Much more research is needed to learn why these families moved from Northampton to Granville.

I find it interesting that a Nottoway(?) Indian named George Skipper b. 1685 was documented through land transactions, living along Urahaw Swamp in the 1720s (See Heinegg here). This is the exact same time that the Chavis, Gibson, Bass, and Anderson families lived along Urahaw Swamp. George Skipper’s wife was Nottoway Indian Mary Bailey, the apparent daughter of Wat Bailey who was documented on the Nottoway Indian reservation in Southampton County, VA. George Skipper and Mary Bailey’s son George Skipper b. 1720 was one of the chief men of the Nottoway Indian Nation who sold his land in 1749. When we take a look at the Moseley map of 1733, we see both the Meherrin and the Nansemond Indians living in close proximity to Urahaw Swamp. The Nottoway and Meherrin are part of the same Iroquoian speaking confederacy. And some of the Nansemond lived with the Nottoway on the Nottoway reservation in Southampton Co, VA (across the state line from Northampton Co, NC). This was an area where a number of tribes took refuge with one another, and this historical context is important for understanding Urahaw Swamp and the cluster of mixed race Native American families who resided there.

Mosely Map 1733
A portion of the Moseley Map of 1733. Urahaw Swamp is shown west of the Nansemond and Meherrin tribes which are circled. Source:

So why did some Nansemond Indians leave the Virginia homeland and settle with other friendly tribes? According to scholar Helen Rountree, the Basses belonged to the so-called “Christianized-Nansemond”, and were never granted a reservation like other Virginia tribes (Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Gingaskin, etc). The “traditional” Nansemond did live on a reservation in Southampton County, VA with the Nottoway Tribe. By 1792 they sold off their remaining reservation land. A closer genealogical examination of the Nansemond/Nottoway families on the Nottoway reservation shows that some individuals (such as George Skipper mentioned above) did leave the reservation for nearby Native American communities. In other words, in the 1700’s there were both Christianized and Traditional Nansemond who were not tied down to the traditional Nansemond homeland along the Nansemond River. This is a great avenue for additional deep dive research into a time and place that I believe is understudied. Thus I think a reexamination of Nansemond ethnohistory that is inclusive of the large amount of Nansemond Bass family members who moved to North Carolina, is long overdue. 

Map showing the location of the
Map showing the location of the “Christianized Nansemond” that the Bass family belonged to.
Source: Helen Rountree

Without a bordered, recognized land base, it seems the Basses were pushed out of Virginia as a result of encroachment by Anglo colonists. This brings to mind Edward Bass’ (1672-1750) 1715 court case against John Muns Jr. for riding his mare. North Carolina at that time was still the “frontier” and that is where the Basses decided to make their home. The Basses were not the only Native American family from the Virginia tidewater area that made this journey. I suspect a number of Native American families in Granville that have tidewater Virginia roots, were Algonquian speaking peoples who were pushed out due to encroachment. Even Algonquian speaking peoples as far as away the Nanticoke Pukham/Bookram family, the Piscataway Proctor family and the Lenape Okey family moved to Granville County.

The Nansemond Basses in Granville County

So to summarize: all of the children of Edward Bass (1672-1750) and four of the children of John Bass (1673-1732) relocated to Granville County in the 1750’s. Edward Bass and John Bass were brothers, and the grandsons of John Bass(e) an English colonist and his Nansemond Indian wife Elizabeth. In Granville, these Bass descendants practiced endogamy by intermarrying with their own Bass cousins and other Native American families to form a tightly closed kinship network. As a result, most living Bass descendants from Granville have multiple Bass ancestors. For example, I have a cousin who has at minimum, 14 different documented Bass genealogical pedigrees back to Elizabeth the Nansemond.

According to local historian Oscar Blacknall, William Chavis (1706-1777) originally owned land that stretched from Lynch’s Creek 16 miles upstream to Fishing Creek and went 5 miles inland from the Tar River. This is approximately 80 square miles or 51,200 acres of continuous land. This is the land base for the community. When the Bass family began to move to Granville County in the 1750’s, they settled on this land of their former Chavis neighbors in Urahaw Swamp in Northampton County, NC. 
© Kianga Lucas

The Bass family continued living and thriving in Granville County as can be seen from a variety of primary source records. The Basses are found in very high numbers in the census records, marriage records, land deeds, estate records, military pension records, tax lists and more. In 1800, there were 14 Bass heads of households, in 1810: 10 heads of household, in 1820: 7 heads of household, in 1830: 6 heads of household, and in 1840: 6 heads of household. In the 1850 census where every household member was enumerated by name for the first time, there were approximately 24 Basses in Granville, and in 1860 there were approximately 25 Basses in Granville. By the 1940 census which is the last publicly available census, there were approximately 100 Basses in Granville. These head counts of course do not reflect female Basses whose surnames changed due to marriage and do not include Bass descendants whose surnames were no longer Bass.

Brothers Benjamin Bass (1722-1800) and Edward Bass (1728-1800) who were the sons of Edward Bass (1672-1750) and Lovewell, became the largest land owners of the Bass family in Granville. Benjamin Bass owned at least 500 acres of total land and Edward Bass owned at least a total of 206 acres of land as reflected in the Granville tax lists and land deeds. They also married their own Bass cousins. Benjamin Bass married his first cousin Mary Bass, and Edward Bass married his first cousin, once removed Tamer Anderson.

Benjamin Bass family tree
Family tree of Benjamin Bass (1722-1800) who was married to his first cousin Mary Bass (b. 1722).  © Kianga Lucas

John Lock to Benjamin Bass

John Lock to Benjamin Bass copy
Land deed showing that Benjamin Bass (1722-1800) purchased a whopping 480 acres in Granville County on 5 August 1782.
Edward Bass Jr family tree
Family tree of Edward Bass Jr (1728-1800) who married his first cousin, once removed Tamer Anderson (b. 1742). © Kianga Lucas

Benjamin Bass (1722-1800) and Edward Bass (1728-1800) had a brother named Sampson/Samuel Bass (b. 1726) whose identity has been conflated with other men who share the same name, by researcher Paul Heinegg. What follows is an explanation of this mistake, so if you are using Paul Heinegg’s research to document this Sampson/Samuel Bass, please proceed with caution.

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 7.30.37 PM
A selection from Paul Heinegg’s summary of the Bass family. In his discussion of Sampson/Samuel Bass b. 1726 (son of Edward Bass 1672-1750 and Lovewell), he incorrectly attributes records belonging to a different Samuel Bass. Please take caution and read my discussion of the mix-up below.

The conflation of Sampson/Samuel Bass b. 1726 (son of Edward Bass 1672-1750) and Samuel Bass 1712-1789 (parentage unknown) of Brunswick Co, VA/Northampton Co, NC and his son Samuel Bass Jr (1734-1796):

The first Sampson/Samuel Bass b. 1726 (he is called by both first names in the primary source records), was a tithable and land owner in Granville County. The available tax lists (1758, 1761, and 1762) show that he only paid tax on himself, so he appears to not have been married nor had any children. He was also taxed as a free person of color (free persons of color were required to pay taxes on their wives). In 1764, the part of Granville County he resided in became short lived Bute County and he makes a land purchase there in 1771. That is the last known record for him. So he may have died intestate and with no heirs.

On the other hand, the second Samuel Bass 1712-1789 (never referred to as Sampson Bass in any records) was taxed as white and was a wealthy planter who owned a lot of slaves. He resided in Brunswick Co, VA in 1765 when he gave his son Burwell Bass land in Northampton Co, NC (Brunswick and Northampton share a border). In 1765, the first Sampson/Samuel Bass resided in Granville, not Brunswick, so that should raise some initial red flags that we’re looking at two different men. He may also be the same Samuel Bass who appears as a tithable in the 1762 Northampton Co, NC tax list. In 1780 he was a tithable in Northampton, assessed on a large amount of property and 12 slaves. His 1787 Northampton Co will, proved in 1790, names his widow Sarah and children who received his property and slaves. This Samuel Bass had a son Samuel Bass Jr 1734-1796 named in the will. Samuel Bass Jr’s will was proved in 1796 in Greensville Co, VA (Greensville borders Brunswick and Northampton). Paul Heinegg also incorrectly attributes the Halifax Co, NC 1810 census showing a Samuel Bass head of a household of 7 free people of color and 1 slave to this Samuel Bass Jr. But that absolutely cannot be him since he was deceased by 1796. Instead the Samuel Bass enumerated in the 1810 census in Halifax Co, NC was a man named Samuel Bass b. 1784 who eventually moved to Tennessee, Alabama and finally Mississippi.

This RootsWeb tree which can be viewed here, includes the following statement from a Samuel Bass researcher who also agrees that the identities of these men have been conflated. He believes the second Samuel Bass was the Samuel Bass who made a 1733 land purchase in Isle of Wight, VA and lived next to Charles Bass Jr. and James Bass.

“I believe Heinegg and Marcia McClure and others have confounded a number of Samuels and Sampsons into one man. I am fifth great grandson of Samuel Bass, Sr who died in 1789 so I have spent a great amount of time trying to tease them apart. The Samuel Bass above was son of Samuel Sr. However I do not believe Samuel Sr was Sampson and the son of Edward. Through tracing land I place this man as the Samuel who purchased land in Isle of Wight County in 1733. He stated he was “of Isle of wight ” and the land adjoined property of James Bass and Charles Bass, Jr. They in subsequent years signed deeds for each other and moved about together. To me that says related. I have come to believe that Samuel was a son of Charles Bass, Sr of Isle if Wight Co. He was born most likely around 1712. He married twice. First to Elizabeth who was still alive in 1755. He was married to Sarah by 1770 and she is the wife in the will. He had 8 children who I believe were born in the order listed in the will. My ancestor Matthew could be the son of either wife.”

The Nansemond identity of the Basses in Granville County was known by Bass researcher, Albert Bell. While doing archival research for his book, Bass Families of the South, published in 1961, Albert Bell came across the 1833 Norfolk County, VA Indian certificates of several members of the Bass family in the Norfolk court minutes. Similar to the Norfolk court records from the 1700’s, the Nansemond Bass family found it necessary to clarify their identity as Indian peoples. Albert Bell submitted a copy of these 1833 Indian certificates and citations to the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh and included a note which stated:

The Basses of Norfolk County have been bedeviled by the same problem as that faced by the Granville County crowd.”

Albert Bell note
First page of the note left by Albert Bell in the North Carolina State Archives with a copy of the 1833 Norfolk Indian certificates of the Bass family. This note shows that Albert Bell hoped that these Indian certificates would be of help to establishing the Nansemond identity of the Granville County Bass family.
Albert Bell note2
Second page of the note left by Albert Bell in the North Carolina State Archives. In it he provides additional sources about the Nansemond tribe written by ethnographers Frederick Webb Hodge and Frank Speck. On a personal side note, as a former curatorial assistant at the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in Los Angeles, I encountered Hodge’s work on a regular basis because he used to be director of the museum.

Photos of Nansemond Basses from Granville County

Below are a handful of photos of individuals who come from the Nansemond Bass family in Granville County. Some of the Granville Basses in the following generations moved to neighboring and nearby counties such as Halifax, Person, Orange, Durham, and Alamance.

The Bass pedigree of the three brothers pictured below who were sons of William Bass b. 1831 and Sarah Evans is as follows:

William Bass; Cullen Bass; Prudence Bass; Edward Bass Jr; Edward Bass Sr; William Bass Sr; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief.

Alonzo Bass (1859-1941). Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Alonzo Bass (1859-1941). Son of William Bass and Sarah Evans. 
Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
William Brammer Bass (1874-1962) Source: Ancestry, User: Derika73
William Brammer Bass (1874-1962). Son of William Bass and Sarah Evans
Source: Ancestry, User: Derika73
Garland Bryant Bass (1879-1935). Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Garland Bryant Bass (1879-1935). Son of William Bass and Sarah Evans
Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Joel Bass (1929-2012). Son of Buck Bass and Minnie Day. Source: Richard Haithcock
Joel Bass (1929-2012). Son of Buck Bass and Minnie Day and grandson of Alonzo Bass pictured above.  Joel Bass was former chief of the Eno-Occaneechi Tribe (precursor to the state recognized Occaneechi-Saponi tribe). On Joel’s mother’s side he is descended from the Granville County Day, Stewart, Cousins and  the Bass family again from the Edward Bass (1672-1750) line. Source: Richard Haithcock
Joel Bass as a young man. Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Joel Bass as a young man.
Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Alford Pettiford born 1877 Resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, NC. Son of James Pettiford and Frances Brandon. Source: Ancestry, Username: rdaye
Alford Pettiford born 1877
Resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, NC.
His parents were James Pettiford and Frances Brandon. Alford Pettiford has multiple Bass lines that trace back to both brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732).  One of his Bass lineages is as follows:
Alford Pettiford; James Pettiford; William Pettiford; Dicey Bass; Nathan Bass; Lovey Bass; John Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief. Source: Rod Daye
Cappie Frances Anderson (1882-1947). Cappie was a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, North Carolina. Her parents were James Anderson and Emma Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: rdaye
Cappie Frances Anderson (1882-1947). Cappie was a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, North Carolina. Her parents were James Anderson and Emma Taborn. Cappie Frances Anderson has multiple Bass lineages going back to both brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732). One of her Bass lineages is as follows:
Cappie Anderson; James Anderson; Winnie Anderson; Henry Anderson; Rhody Anderson; Winnie Bass; Benjamin Bass; Edward Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief. Source: Rod Daye
Joseph Walter Scott
Joseph Walter Scott (1872-1938) of Granville/Vance Counties, was the son of John Scott and Sally Emeline Taborn. His maternal grandparents were Arthur Taborn and Henrietta Bass. Source: Ancestry, Username: ellemoorehp
John Anderson b 1833
John Anderson (1832-1916) was the son of Thomas Anderson and Sally Day of Granville County. He was first married to Margaret Parker and second married to Mary Mayo. He has multiple Bass pedigrees. One of sis Bass pedigree is as follows: John Anderson; Thomas Anderson; Winnie Bass;  Edward Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief. Source: Christopher Bradley Cooper
Eliza Louisa Richardson and Emila Lucretia Richardson
On the right Eliza Louisa Richardson (1828-1909) and on the left her niece Emily Richardson (1840-1910/1920) of Halifax County, NC. Eliza Louisa Richardson was the daughter of Hardy Richardson and Dorcas Boone. They descend from the Granville Bass family. This photo was submitted with the Richardson family’s rejected Dawes Cherokee Dawes applications in 1898. Source: The National Archives. Eliza Louisa Richardson’s Bass pedigree is as follows: Eliza Louisa Richardson; Hardy Richardson; Mary Bass; Benjamin Bass; Edward Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth the daughter of the chief of the Nansemond.
Sally Richardson Henry Richardson
Seated in the front are siblings Sally Richardson (1862-1951) and Henry Richardson (1871-1964) (children of Cofield Richardson and Rachel Mary Lynch) of Halifax County, NC with Sally Richardson’s daughter standing in the back. They descend from the Granville Co Bass family. Their Bass pedigree is as follows: Sally Richardson/Henry Richardson; Cofield Richardson; Absalom Richardson; Mary Bass; Benjamin Bass; Edward Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth the daughter of the Nansemond Chief. Source: Donnie Hansberry.
Southall Bass Eva Richardson
This is a very special picture, because it captured the descendants of three Nansemond brothers, Edward Bass (1672-1750), John Bass (1673-1732) and Thomas Bass (1687-?), grandsons of John Bass(e) and Elizabeth the Nansemond. On the far left is Southall Bass III (1913-1991) who is a direct male descendant of Thomas Bass (1687-?). His family remained in Norfolk and Southall Bass became a noted local photographer. Standing next to him is his friend and distant cousin Eva Richardson (1924-2007) originally of Halifax County, NC but resided in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Eva Richardson’s 4th great-grandmother (and four times repeated) was Mary Bass (1751-1844) who married Benjamin Richardson. Thus, Eva Richardson descends from both Edward Bass (1672-1732) and John Bass (1673-1750) four times over. Photo courtesy of Eva Richardson’s son Rod Northern.

154 thoughts on “The Nansemond Indian Bass Family of Granville

  1. Following my Bass line back from Walter Thomas, Jesse Len, Gabriel, Cullen…. Then I run into confusion. Ancestry says that Cullen’s parents were Prissy Bass and Jesse Day, but there are some other trees that disagree. Now, on this blog, I find a Prissy Bass married to Jesse Day in Benjamin’s line and a Priscilla Bass Married to Jesse Day in Edward’s Line. I have only done Ancestry DNA. Is there benefit to further testing? Thoughts?


    1. Helo. My name is James bass. My great great grandfather was moses bass. They say we are half indian . No one knows where moses bass came from. Only that he came from up north. He built houses in Madison. Georgia. Where i grew up. I just wonder did he belong to this family tree from Virginia.


      1. I come straight down male anncestors from Bass. Starts John Basse 1616, read on The Great Dismal Swamp, NC , and Basses of Granville. That starts your history lesson. William Bass, altho carrying his name Bass he was Keziah (Elizabeth’s son) 1/2 sub Saharan and 1/2 Nansemond, Keziah being full blood Nansemuond, yet no one knows exactly who her father was. Williams children have a A M31. DNA marker. John us!


    1. Yeah I did take it. And I’m attached to the bass surname. I’m also third cousin or so to driggers. King. Dixon. I know the surnames. And been at it for a while. Now. And I believe that leucetia Beverly is. Somehow a bass daughter or grand daughter. Look me up on ancestry. Santeeman71

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m also a Bass/Dukes (double in fact – I’m descended from 2 of Winifred Bass Dukes’ sons, Benjamin and Sampson. Winifred was: Jacob > John 2 of Northampton > John Basse and Love Harris.)

      Drop me a line if I can help anyone. Have been working on Sampson’s wife for a long time – she might have been another Bass cousin. Her name was Nancy but NOT Nancy Holland Copes, who married a Dukes nephew also named Sampson Dukes.

      This is an email redirect to thwart spam, but I’ll respond using my real address.


      1. Ancestry
        Print this page
        Relationship between William Basse & Shelia A Middleton.
        William Basse (1654 – 1741)
        10th great-grandfather
        John Bass Sr (1673 – 1732)
        Son of William Basse
        John Bass Jr (1696 – 1777)
        Son of John Bass Sr
        Jacob Bass (1728 – 1792)
        Son of John Bass Jr
        WINIFRED WINNEY BASS (1755 – 1845)
        Daughter of Jacob Bass
        Benjamin Franklin Dukes (1769 – 1850)
        Josiah Dukes (1810 – 1883)
        Son of Benjamin Franklin Dukes
        William L Dukes (1838 – 1900)
        Son of Josiah Dukes
        James Willard Dukes (1862 – 1926)
        Son of William L Dukes
        Delia Cordelia Duke (1886 – 1963)
        Daughter of James Willard Dukes
        Evelyn L Holmes (1914 – 1991)
        Daughter of Delia Cordelia Duke
        GARY CURTIS MIDDLETON (1944 – )
        Son of Evelyn L Holmes
        Shelia A Middleton
        You are the daughter of GARY CURTIS MIDDLETON


      2. I think we fall somewhere in the Jacob, John, or William Bass, somewhere in there a Grist Mill comes into play. Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A


      3. My dad and his famiky from Southern Pines Hope Mills, dad and his father used to work for Pappy Moss, out on Youngs Road Proper. Now different location Moss Foundation. Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A


      4. I started on my paternal grandmothers side 10 years ago, then raised grand children,   and have been just getting into my fathers side. So I dont have much, and cant afford to go back into Ancestry yet again, did make several trips back to NC, Siler, Robbins, Hope Mills, Southern Pines area.  Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am Robin Bass VanLeer, father waa Jesse Bass Jr, his father Jesse Bass Sr, his father Gilbert Green Bass married to Maxwell, his father John W Bass married I believe to Patience Ann Deans. Are we in the line of your roots?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Bass were so far back it probably wouldnt show up, it didnt on mine and I dont match with any of them. From my research they have found that alot of African Americans are told a certain person was Native when they were actually white. Not that it is the case with yours but if they are in your ancestry tree then you are a descendant anyway.


    2. My dad is on ancestry and 23 and Me. I uploaded is DNA to Gedmatch. He has a match pretty close match who is a Bass. His paternal Y chromosomes haplogroup is A Native American haplogroip. Mt DNA is L3 west African. Look like his Bass name point to a direct paternal Native American ancestor


  3. Hi, I am doing some personal research of my family tree. My name is Brianna Bass and the furthest I’ve gone is to a free woman of color by the name of Mary Ann Sumner born in Northampton NC. She was born in est. 1804. I can’t find death or birth records on her so I’m wondering if her last name was even Sumner since she is connected to my Bass Grandparents. She lived with my family members (FPOC) in an 1860 census who has the last name was Shanklin, Cureton, and Sumner. I’m just wondering if there is any slave records or free person of color surname list I can find that are connected to the bass family tree. I have Harris in my tree as well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If she married a white she may be then considered considered white. From the Dawes Rolls I learned,  if a white man married an Indian woman she was listed as white. But if an Indian man married a white woman, she was considered Indian.  Of course, she might not be listed at all. I am Robin Bass VanLeer, idaho. Believe My grandmother had cherokee line, Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A


  4. I’m searching for many info on my g-g-g-Grandpa Moses Bass b. 1778 Duplin, N.C. d. 1845 Bass Hammock, Bear Head Creek, Starks, Louisiana. His sister Nancy Charity Bass is my 4th Great Grandma. His other sister Jane Bass is on my mother’s side the Perkins.Their father was Jeremiah Bass Jr. b.1746 Bertie, N.C. d. 1808 Adams Co., Mississippi. His father Jeremiah Bass Sr. b. 1724 Bertie, N.C. This is were I get lost is Edward or Moses. Who is the father?? Does anyone know who Jeremiah Bass Sr. b. 1724 father is please help. I took a DNA test at Ancestry and I put it on Gedmatch. Wow what a mix. And yes Native is there along with West and East Mediterranean, N. Atlantic, Baltic, Portuguese, North and South Africa, South Asia, Red Sea, etc.. Well I guess the old folks had it right! MIXED BLOODS aka Redbone & Melungeon. Some Surnames in my family are Stanley, Bass, Perkins, Gibson, Ashworth, Dial, Hoosier, Goodman, Terrell, Collins, Mullins, etc. True Blue Redbone / Melungeons!!! Any help would be Awesome!!!! Sincerely Just Another Redbone Looking For Roots….


    1. My name is Lanny Norlander. My wife’s maiden name is Bass and she is from Pitkin Louisiana. Her GGG grandfather was John Gilbert Bass B 1770 and was the brother of your Moses Bass B 1778. I can help you some with your problem as my research work on my wife’s family took me on the same course as yours is taking you. Like you I thought her family was through Moses Bass but it turns out it was through Edward Bass B 1697. so yours goes there too. You can find a ton of information on a web site called and search oh a name.I found my wife’s family there from her grandfather all the way back to colonial times.Email me if you need any more information.


  5. My line comes through John Basse and Elizabeth (Nansemond)’s son Richard Bass Sr
    1658–1722; BIRTH 2 AUG 1658 • Nansemond County, Virginia, USA;DEATH 26 DEC 1722 • Norfolk, Nansemond County, Virginia, USA. His family (3 are head of household) are listed in Sampson County in 1790 Census. His great-grandson, Burwell Bass, a Revolutionary War soldier, was born 1752 in Brunswick Co., Virginia. Given land after the war, he settle in Roebuck Springs and was married to Elizabeth Jane York. Burwell was buried August 23, 1831 in what is now called Bass Cemetery, in Alabama. Most of their descendants stayed around Jefferson County, Alabama where many still live today.


  6. My name is jonathan keith bass i am a direct and last grandson in the line from Laurence K Bass( my father) howard bass oscar bass, alfred owen bass,john franlin bass, orren bass,jacob bass, john bass II,john basse, william Basse to John Basse and Elizabeth so i am the great x 10 great grandson of chief King nansemond. I am a member of the church of jesus christ latter-day saints our records or tremendous my email is text me at 704.919.7653


  7. Hello, my mother in law is a Bass. The farthest back I can trace her family is Edmond Haines and Mary T/E Bass b. 1831 in Iredell North Carolina. Several Bass families moved from Iredell, N.C. to Fairfield County, S.C. My husband has DNA matches that have this Bass family in their tree, and it is obvious from studying the DNA connections and family trees, that he is related to these DNA matches through this specific Bass family line. I can’t find any parental information on Mary Bass. Her marriage certificate is scratched on a piece of paper with no parents names. Any help would be appreciated.


  8. John Bass father Nathaniel Basse is my 9th great- grandfather. I am not a from John but his brother Edward. Very good article. Donnie Bays.


  9. Hi Kianga,

    Thank you for such an extensive blog. You have taken me back in time as you mention family members that my father used to speak of often. Alonzo Bass (1929) is my great-grandfather. Joel Bass (b1929) and my father were cousins. I was raised up north, though we visited often when I was a child. Can you help me in connecting to family?


  10. Thank you for the explanation Kianga. There are sooooo many names in the Bass family generationally that repeat which makes it so confusing to figure out how to trace back and figure out relationships. As soon as I think I’ve solved a family connection then it’s right back to square one again LOL…


    1. You’re welcome! LOL. Yea, the Bass family is not an easy family to research because of the constant repeated names. I have my eyes on your Patience Bass because Philip Pettiford was the bondsman for the 1783 marriage bond for my 5th great-grandparents Benjamin Richardson and Mary Bass. Now that I do have some extra time with all that’s going on, I will revisit your Patience Bass to see if I can figure it out.


      1. Hello Kianga! I just took a look at an exerpt from Paul Heinegg’s book online and found a surprise that might help us. What do you think about Paul’s theory on page 115 of the link below where Patience Bass’ name is highlighted both at top as inheriting the south side of Bear Swamp plantation and also at the footnote at the very bottom of the same page amending her birthdate to 1736 which makes more sense considering I’ve heard she was MUCH older than her husband Philip Pettiford who was born around 1754.

        A sugar mama situation could this be perhaps lol? 🙂

        Do you think this is my Patience Bass? Here is the link and thanks in advance for helping me with this!


    2. Hello,

      That information comes from Philip Pettiford’s pension application. I have read the original application from beginning to end and there are some lingering questions. He filed in 1820 and stated that he was 66 years and says the only family living with him was his wife who was 84 years old. He DOES NOT name his wife at all in the entire application.

      The only reason we know that Philip Pettiford was married to a woman named Patience Bass is from the Narcissa Ratley letter from 1893. In the letter Narcissa specifies that Philip Pettiford married Patience Bass and then names the children they had. Here is the problem. Those children were all born between 1770s-1790. A woman born in 1736 was not giving birth this late. The marriage record for Philip Pettiford and Patience Bass has not been located, so we don’t even know what year they married. We also don’t know if Philip Pettiford was married more than once. The wife he was referring to in his 1820 application, could be a second marriage.

      What we do know for sure is that John Bass died in 1732, so any children born to him and named in his will, had to have been born before 1732. To find out what happened to John Bass’ daughter Patience Bass (Heinegg estimates that she was born circa 1726) is to track that land that she inherited from her father’s will. Patience would have eventually sold that share of land if she survived childhood. That is how I found out that John Bass’ daughter Mary Bass (my 6th great-grandmother) married her first cousin Benjamin Bass, because after they married she sold the land she inherited from her father John Bass.

      Here is another problem. In the 1786 state census for North Carolina, Philip Pettiford is enumerated in a household by himself with no wife or children, and owning 8 slaves. We know that by 1786 he was married since he had children born in the 1770s. Where are they? There are a lot of questions about his household which is why this is going to require very deep dive research such as looking at court minutes, tax lists, land deeds, etc, to figure out what’s going on. I’m working on all of this and it will take some time to sort it out. I try not to publish information that I have not been able to confirm.


      1. Oh wow, good investigative work! I had no idea that the Patience/Philip line was so complicated! One other random Bass family rumor I’ve heard is that rocker Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue) is related somehow. Do you know if that’s true? Said his real name is Tommy Lee Bass but I was surprised when a friend told me his grandfather also last name of Bass grew up in the Suffolk, Virginia area. Do you know if that’s true? Sorry so many questions lol! I was just surprised Tommy was a Bass at all (and I thought his last name was actually Lee lol!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Kianga, another strange thing I forgot to mention is that I descend from (Patience Bass?) and Philip Pettiford’s daughter Gillie and Gillie Pettiford had 4 children of her own but nobody can tell me who Gillie had these children with. Gillie probably wasn’t married since all her kids took her last name but no one can tell me who fathered the 4 kids and I don’t see them listed in any “bastardy/base born” records. I’m confused!


      3. This is the section of my lineal I’m also looking for. I had a cousin surname Hall, Susan (May she rest peacefully) Who built our Pettiford family website. Patience Bass and Philip/Philemon Pettiford are listed as the Parents of a Gillie Pettiford born 1790-1834. Gillie Spouse/Partner is unknown, However thier son Reuben Pettiford Married a Judy Artis. My GGGgrandfather is their son John “Jack” Pettiford. Philip/Philemon is descendent of Lawrence Pettiford and Mary Mitchell…..

        With all that said, THANK YOU!!! For all the endless days and nights doing research! You are Appreciated Kianga


  11. Hi Kianga,
    Great blog, as always! Steming from John and Edward, I descend from the Bass, Pettiford, Anderson, Day, Hayes line. My 5th great grandparents are Benjamin Bass Sr. b.1722 and Mary Bass b.1732 on my grandfather’s side. On my grandmother’s side (grandparents are cousins, of course lol) Edward Bass Jr. b.1728 and Tamor Bass Anderson b.1742. However, I can never pin down the Hayes portion of the family. I noted in your Levy Family blog (2015) you mention, “It is there that James married a woman from the Native community named Martha Freeman (1865-1944). Martha was the daughter of John Freeman and Elizabeth Hayes and is descended from the Native American Freeman, Hayes, Taborn, and Epps families. Though she was raised in Kittrell, most of Martha’s family came from neighboring Person Co in the High Plains community that is today the Sappony Tribe of Person County.” Would you have any other info regarding the Native American Hayes?


    1. Hi Kianga,
      Can you tell me how the Epps family is connected to the Bass Family? I’m not sure if there is a connection here. I am a descendant of the Epps family. I have matches with the Bass and Freeman surnames. I also have Lumbee ancestry. Thank you.


    2. Bells Book Bass Families of the South, Hannah Freeman married Issac Bass 1802, Surrey County NC, Lucy Freeman married Dixon Bass 1811. In Virginia. Mary Freeman married Doctor Bass 1846 in Alabama.


  12. Great article but I think there could be an error on one entry. You mention that Bartlet Tyler (born 1742) and Lovey Bass (born 1712) had a child together. I guess that is remotely possible but not likely given she was thirty years older than him. I descend from a Bartlet Tyler born 1795 (Virginia or NC, records vary) and I think these two are father / son, although I haven’t proven it yet.


    1. Please note birth dates from this era are approximations. But Lovey Bass herself filed a bastardy bond in Granville Court naming Bartet Tyler as the father of her child on 13 January 1767. That document can be found in the Granville bastardy bonds in the state archives. I have no record of Bartlet Tyler of Granville having a son named Bartlet born circa 1795. Please note there were several men named Bartet Tyler throughout colonial VA and NC.


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  14. You mentioned the Basses of Camden County, NC & surrounding counties in the 1700s intermarrying w/other FPOC families & mentioned a Price family. Can you please, please give me a link or some info on this FPOC Price family? My father is a Price that I have traced back to an Anderson Price, b. 1825 in SC & I think his mother was an Anderson. Bass is a name that regularly pops up in family trees of dna matches. I also have done ydna testing of my father, so I have that evidence for this Price line, but I cannot for the life of me find records. Any info at all that you can offer on the FPOC Price family that intermarried with the Basses would be ENORMOUSLY appreciated. Thanks in advance.


    1. Go to
      I did last night, everything seems to be documented with sources. I am a direct defendant from Robin the Elder Chief of the Nanseumonds. Going through Jesse Leslie Bass, Gilbert Green Bass, John William Bass, I had those and documentation of my own. It carried me back further.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Eliza C m Willism Bass 1817 Alabama, Lucinda m Hardy Bass 1845 Alabama, Rachel m Uriah Bass 1849 Alabama, Polly Price m m Guilford Bass 1820 Tenn.


  15. I’m the great granddaughter of Charles Mangum who married Matilda Yancey. I’m in the process of researching Martha Anderson.


  16. I am the 4th great-granddaughter of Benjamin Richardson & Mary Bass Richardson; 3rd ggd of Hardy and Dorcas Richardson; 2nd ggd of Abner Jane Boone Richardson; and ggd of Spencer Murray Boone and Sarah Susan Richardson Murray Boone. I would dearly love to have a picture of Susan Richardson (1852-1923). Does anyone have one that they would share with me? Her son’s picture, Philmore Murray Boone, my grandfather, has been posted previously on this website.


  17. I am a Bass descendant through Priscilla “Prissy” Bass and Jesse Day. Their son Jeremiah Daye married Nicey Mitchell and had Sterling Daye. Sterling Daye married Lizzie Corn (She sometimes went in Baynes and/or Jeffries as well). Their youngest daughter Margie Pearl Daye married Cardovious Parker. Margie and Cardovious are my great grandparents.


  18. Hello. My name is James Bass. My great great great grandfather . Moses Bass Walked from Virginia to Georgia back in the 1800s. Does anyone know more about my moses bass. I have pictures

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Washington Day Son of Ruben Day son of Jesse Day and Prissy Bass daughter of Benjamin Bass this is my lineage to the Bass family. I’m confused about Prissy I saw her listed on one of the family trees as Prudence Prissy Bass on ancestry but when I view the tree on the blog the birth year for Prissy is 1764 and Prudence 1768 they both were connected to Jesse Day.


    1. Hi Rhonda,

      Jesse Day (1761-1837) was marred to Prissy Bass with whom he had many children with including Reuben Day. He also had children out of wedlock with Prudence Bass (Jethro Bass and Cullen Bass). Prissy Bass and Prudence Bass are two different women. They were actually first cousins. Prissy Bass was daughter of Benjamin Bass b. 1722. And Prudence Bass was the daughter of Edward Bass b. 1728. Benjamin Bass and Edward Bass were brothers.


  20. I’m hoping I have the correct Bass /Day connection my DNA matches with the family on ancestry but need help finding out if my gg Grandfather Washington Day was part of the lineage


  21. Hi Kianga! I found another Bass line that I may descend from but wanted to see if I may be wrong about this. One of my great-grandmothers was Gillie/Gillica Pettiford, the daughter of Philip Pettiford. She did not marry but did have 4 children. I was trying to find out who she had those 4 children with. It is rumored that it was with Wright Bass and I saw she did name her oldest son that same name only spelled “Write” instead of “Wright” or perhaps someone just misspelled it and it actually is “Wright.” Do you know if it is true that Wright Bass was the father of Gillie Pettiford’s four children? I haven’t been able to find anything about it but I do match Bass relatives on MyHeritage so I am seeing if anyone has any other information about that? I heard Gillie may have been Wright Bass’ mistress since he was married to someone else (Tabitha Snelling?) for many years. A tricky situation indeed and kind of explains why a lot of people are hush-hush about it and why I have kind of hit a wall there. Any info would be appreciated and if you have none that’s okay. I hope you’re doing well and thanks for keeping up this great site 🙂


    1. Hi Crystal!

      I’m guessing you’re familiar with the Narcissa Ratley letter in which she outlines the genealogy of your family lineage.
      Unfortunately she does not provide any info on who fathered the children of Gillie Pettiford.
      Philip Pettiford’ wife was Patience Bass, so you would be a Bass through that lineage. I have not found any documentation that helps identify who Patience Bass’ parents are. She’s currently a brick wall. Perhaps she was closely related to Wright Bass.
      I’m not sure the timeline of Wright Bass allows for him to be in Granville to father children with Gillie Pettiford.
      1805 was the last time he was recorded in the Granville Co tax lists and in 1806 he sold all of his Granville land. He then appears in Wilkes Co, NC and later Indiana. So based on the records, he likely left Granville in 1806. Gillie started having her children right around this time, so it’s cutting it very close.

      I hope this helps!



      1. Thanks Kianga! Some of the Bass relatives I match with on MyHeritage also have the last name “West” which I have no idea where that comes from so that’s another confusing aspect. I feel like my genealogy quest is a never-ending mystery lol!


    1. Hi Ann! My Bass relatives are mainly centered around Granville County, NC and originally came from around the Norfolk, Virginia area I believe.


  22. Osiyo. I’m Shaye Couther (Cousar/Cousart) my ancestor info keeps growing as I research my DNA. I’m from Norfolk VA. My dads mother is a Haliwa Saponi woman last name Boone. Her mother was a Richardson. Richardsons are in direct correlation to the Bass(e) family. To know I have tribes like Haliwa Saponi, Nansemond, Powhatan, Cherokee and possibly Waxhaw and Shoshone is amazing. Many of the Waxhaw people were torn apart after the Tuscarora War. So it’s harder trying to find some info. But I’m greatful for what I’ve found so far.


  23. Hi, I am descended from Sarah Bass and Lewis Anderson, through Keziah Micajah Maizah (Anderson) Fortner. It is on my Fortner/Carden’s side. Anyone else related that way?


    1. Hello,

      Lewis Anderson and Sarah Bass did not have a daughter named Keziah Micajah Maizah Anderson. Lewis Anderson wrote a will dated 20 January 1783 which was proved in May 1785 Granville County court. His will specifically names his children: Shadrack Anderson, Lewis Anderson Jr, Elisha Anderson Taborn (wife of Drury Taborn), Tamer Anderson Bass (wife of Edward Bass), Mary Anderson Bass (wife of Reuben Bass), Sarah Anderson Tyler (wife of Bartlet Tyler) and granddaughter Lidda Anderson (daughter of Elisha Anderson from before her marriage to Drury Taborn).
      I hope that above information is helpful.


      1. Thank you so much. I’ll have to look at all the information, and see where the mistake is. My dna has been tested as well as my mother’s, and I match with many of the Bass family, so I need to see what is going on. Thanks again, I appreciate the help.


  24. I am searching my Bass ancestry. I suspect I am related on both sides of my family to both the Bertie Basses and Granville, NC. The Bertie connection appears to come through John Bass and Elizabeth Winborn. My big Y 700 reads ABY31569 and mostly matches with Basses. One of the sons of Isaac Bass, son of John/Elizabeth appears to be the most likely candidates. The big Y 700 mostly matches with Haplogroup A Basses. My 5th g grandmother is Ann Dundelow, but don’t know where she came from, who her parents were or what her original surname was. There is a lot of poorly documented information/disinformation to be found on her, but suspect she had a “liaison” with a Bass in Bertie. The assumption arises from both genetics and proximity to Basses and Ann in Bertie County in Guy’s Hall Swamp..


  25. Recently had genealogy done and it led me here. I will appreciate if you can expound on this more or answer any questions I may have.


  26. Loved your blog. I live in Wilmington NC. My grandfather was Joel Percy Bass. His parents were James Lee Bass and Betty Sandlin Bass. They were from Duplin and Sampson County but settled in New Hanover County ( Wilm NC). Can you tell me if they apart of this bass lineage? James Lee Bass, James Franklin Bass, Lewis Guilford Bass, and lastly Uriah Bass and that’s all i know.


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