Important Update for Willis Bass of Granville County

One of the most common mistakes found in genealogical research is conflating multiple people into a single person. In an earlier blog post about my 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris (son of Edward Harris and Sarah Chavis), I discussed how even the War Department conflated the records of multiple men who shared the same name: Sherwood Harris. So it is understandable that in Paul Heinegg’s massive research on all “free colored people” from colonial times in the American South, he would likely commit a few of these mistakes.

One such error comes from Heinegg’s discussion about a man named Willis Bass (b. 1792). (Heinegg suggests his birthdate is 1787 but I have records which indicate 1792). By carefully reviewing the records that Heinegg provided and finding additional records to corroborate my suspicions, I am able to update and correct important info on Willis Bass. If you are a descendant of Willis Bass or just researching him, you will definitely want to update your records after reading this blog post. Most researchers use Heinegg’s material so hopefully he will update his website with this new info that I have provided.

Willis Bass family tree.001
Family tree for Willis Bass that explains his family relationships. Brothers Willis Bass and Racey Bass were born out of wedlock to Milly Bass. Milly Bass later married Pearson Hawley, making him their stepfather but not their biological father. Records for all these individuals will be discussed below. © Kianga Lucas


Heingg’s Research on Willis Bass (b. 1792)

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.49.21 PM
Paul Heinegg’s section on James Bass who he proposes is the father of Willis Bass (b. 1792) of Granville Co. Note how there is not a single record of James Bass ever living in Granville Co or even North Carolina. Source:

James Bass (b. 1760) is who Heinegg suggests is the father of Willis Bass (b. 1792) of Granville County. Heinegg included a number of very helpful primary source documents for James Bass. We see he lived in Norfolk Co, VA for most of his life and later moved out to Tennessee where he filed a Revolutionary War pension application. What you do not see is a single record of James Bass in Granville Co, NC. Children do certainly move away from their parents at some point but to not have a single record for James Bass in Granville Co should immediately throw up some red flags. Let’s take a closer examination of the records.

We see that in the 1801 tax list for Norfolk Co, VA James Bass is listed with the names of members of his household. Included in his houshold is a Willis Bass, which is solid proof that James Bass had a son named Willis Bass. This tax list is the only record provided for the Willis Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. I do find James Bass in the Bedford Co, TN census records starting in 1820 and he is there along with several other “free colored” Bass head of households. These are most likely James Bass’ children and other close family members. If his son Willis Bass survived childhood and did move away from Norfolk Co, VA, he likely would have relocated with his family to Bedford Co, TN. So the Willis Bass of Norfolk, VA coming to Granville Co, NC just doesn’t make much sense or fit into the general trend for James Bass’ family. Let’s look at the records available for the Willis Bass of Granville Co.


Willis Bass (b. 1792) Apprenticeship Records

The earliest records that I found for Willis Bass are not included in Heinegg’s research. Ancestry recently made available to their members, Wills and Probate Records for North Carolina and included in the Granville County folder are also apprenticeship records. These records have been an incredible aide for me to verify or disprove genealogical relationships.

Willis Bass John Irby apprenticeship
Willis Bass, age 9 years, was bound out to John Irby on 8 May 1801 in Granville County. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

On 8 May 1801, Willis Bass, age 9 years, was bound out to John Irby. On the exact same day, Racey Bass, age 11 years, was also bound out to John Irby. John Irby (1780-1841) was a resident of the Abrams Plains district of Granville County. This is an important detail because Willis Bass and Racey Bass are later shown living in the Abrams Plains District after their indentured servitude was over.

Racey Bass John Irby apprenticeship
Racey (“Rasey”) Bass, age 11 years, was bound out to John Irby on 8 May 1801 in Granville County. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998. Note: though called a female in this recoes, Racey Bass was actually a male and there are additional records which correctly identify his gender.

The fact that Willis Bass and Racey Bass were bound out on the same day to the same person is strong evidence that they were siblings. Often times the courts would send out orders requesting that the children of a specific individual, be required to report to court to be bound out. But who were Willis and Racey’s parents? The Granville County court minutes, reveal that a few years earlier in May 1798, Racey Bass, was called the son of Milly Bass who was the wife of Pearson Hawley. The identified gender of Racey Bass is odd because the 1801 apprenticeship order to be bound to John Irby, identified Racey Bass as a female. However after reviewing additional primary source records, I can confirm that Racey Bass was a male.

Racey Bass 1798 Court Minutes
Racey “Raisey” Bass, age about 8 years, is called the son of Milly Bass, wife of Pearson Hawley in the May 1798 Court Minutes. Racey was ordered to be bound to James H. Smith. Source: Dr. Warren Milteer

So who was Milly Bass? According to the court minutes, Milly Bass (b. 1772) was the wife of a Pearson Hawley (b. 1770). This means that siblings Willis Bass and Racey Bass were born to Milly Bass before she married Pearson Hawley. Pearson Hawley was their stepfather, but not their biological father. And this explains why Willis Bass and Racey Bass were bound out because it was common for children born out of wedlock to be apprenticed out. Pearson Hawley is found in the Granville Co records beginning in 1791 and is in the 1800 census, head of a household of 5 “free colored” people. He is from the Saponi/Catawba Indian Hawley family that I previously blogged about here. The 1800 census is the last time I find Pearson Hawley in the Granville records, so I’m unsure of what later happened to him or his wife Milly Bass.

Milly Bass (b. 1772) was the daughter of Benjamin Bass (1722-1802) and his wife Mary Bass (born 1722). The Granville County bastardy bonds show that Milly Bass had children out of wedlock and that it was Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) who fathered those children. *** After initially publishing this blog post, I made additional discoveries that you can read here, which reviews the evidence that supports Jesse Chavis being the father of Milly Bass’ children. I highly recommend you read this update on the identification on Jesse Chavis. ***

Milly Bass bastardy bond
On 4 August 1794 in Granville County, Milly Bass charged Jesse Chavis with having a bastard child with her. Milly Bass’ brother Benjamin Bass and Absalom Bass were her sureties. 

On 5 Aug 1803, Willis Bass and Racey Bass were bound out again to John Irby. I’m not sure why multiple apprenticeship orders were needed but it shows the pattern of siblings being bound out on the same date.


Willis Bass (b. 1792) in the Granville Co Census and Marriage Records

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This is Paul Heinegg’s discussion of Willis Bass (b. 1792). He jumps right into the Granville Co records without offering any evidence or insight as to why the Willis Bass of Granville Co was the same person as Willis Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. Heinegg includes the word “perhaps” to illustrate that he is not sure. All researchers need to pay close attention to these details. Source:

So if Willis Bass was bound out as a boy in Granville Co in 1801 and 1803, how could he be the son of someone who was living in Norfolk Co, VA during that time? The answer is that Willis Bass was not the son of James Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. And the apprenticeship records and court minutes of Granville Co identify the mother of Willis Bass and Racey Bass as Milly Bass.

The next time we find Willis Bass in the records was on 4 Jan 1809 when he married Olive Chavis. He was then counted in the 1810, 1820, and 1830 censuses for Granville Co. He lived in the Abrams Plains district which is a district in far northern Granville Co, immediately next to the Virginia state border. And this is the same district that he lived in when he was bound out to John Irby. Willis Bass’ 1810 household consisted of three people – himself, wife Olive, and a child. His brother Racey Bass was enumerated right next to him, head of a large household of 9 people. Willis Bass’ 1820 household consisted of 9 people (himself, wife Olive, 5 boys and 2 girls). His brother Racey Bass does not appear in the census again after 1810 and I wonder if some of the children in Willis’ 1820 household may have been his brother’s children. Willis Bass’ 1830 household consisted of 12 people (himself, wife Olive, 5 young men/boys, and 5 young women/girls).

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.06.28 AM
Willis Bass is enumerated in the 1810 census next to his brother Racey Bass. Note: the 1810 census was based off of alphabetical tax lists from each district in Granville County, so names listed next to one another are not necessarily neighbors. But names close to one another indicate living in the same district. in Source: Year: 1810; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Roll: 40; Page: 858; Image: 00228; Family History Library Film: 0337913
1820 willis bass
Willis Bass enumerated in the Abrams Plains district of Granville County in 1820. Source: Year: 1810; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Roll: 40; Page: 858; Image: 00228; Family History Library Film: 0337913

I also found that Willis Bass was twice the bondsman for marriages in Granville Co. He was the bondsman for the marriage between Joseph Peal and Jane Pettiford on 18 May 1822. Jane Pettiford was the daughter of Collins Pettiford and Polly Chavis (perhaps a family members of Willis Bass’ wife Olive Chavis). And Willis Bass was the bondsman for the marriage between Henry Bass and Eliza Hart on 26 Feb 1824. Henry Bass (b. 1800) is too old to be Willis’ son, but perhaps he was a close relative. Henry Bass relocated to Ohio, specifically Ross County which is a couple of counties over from where some of Willis Bass’ descendants relocated to.

Willis Bass’ (b. 1792) Descendants Filed Eastern Cherokee Applications

So the last time Willis Bass appears in Granville Co is in the 1830 census and we know from the size of the household that he had a large family. We next learn about what happened to Willis Bass from the Eastern Cherokee (Guion Miller) applications that his descendants filed.

If you’re not familiar with the Guion Miller roll, here is a blurb from familysearch:

The Guion Miller Roll is a list of Eastern Cherokees who applied for money awarded in 1905 because of a 1902 lawsuit in which the Eastern Cherokee tribe sued the United States for funds due them under the treaties of 1835, 1836 and 1845. Claimants were asked to prove they were members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe at the time of the treaties, or descended from members who had not been affiliated with any other tribe. Guion Miller, an agent of the Interior Department, was appointed as a commissioner of the Court of Claims to compile a list of claimants. He made an extensive enrollment of the Cherokees in 1907 and 1908.


Even though the applications for Willis Bass’ descendants were rejected, they are full of important genealogical information about his family. I will be doing a blog post hopefully soon about why so many of our families were labeled “Cherokee” despite not being tribally Cherokee. In that blog post I will explore that phenomenon more in depth but for now you should at least be aware that “Cherokee” was often synonymous for “Indian” in the Southeast.

Descendants of Willis Bass who filed Eastern Cherokee applications: grandsons: Elijah Bass Jr (#17657) and Peter Bass (#44383); great-grandchildren: two named Alice Revels (#14050 and #14118), Charles Bass (#14052), Malissa Roberts (#16153), Delia McCann (#16156), Matilda Bostwick (#16155), Martha J Bass (#17656), Mansfield Bass (#17659), Ransom Bass (#18015), Martha Anderson (#18350), Rosa Bass (#19825), Nora Thomas (#19826), and Matilda Newville (#15670); and great-great grandchildren: William Newville (#24366), Alice Elizabeth Carman (#24379), and Charley Newville (#32952). All applicants claimed descent from Willis Bass and Olive Chavis’ son Elijah Bass Sr. I won’t discuss each application because they are quite redundant. Instead I’ll focus on a couple of applications that provide the most pertinent info.

Elijah Bass Jr and Elizabeth Arnold
Elijah Bass Jr (1835-1912) with his wife Elizabeth Arnold. Elijah Jr was the son of Elijah Bass Sr and the grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Elijah Bass Jr filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application # 17567. Source: Ancestry, Username: Anthony DI DIO

By the time of the Eastern Cherokee roll applications in 1907, some descendants of Willis Bass had relocated from Granville Co, NC to Lawrence Co, OH and finally to Vernon Co, WI. We learn from Elijah Bass Jr’s application, that Willis and Olive Bass had the following children: Elijah Bass Sr, William Bass, Henry Bass, Racey Bass, Ransom Bass, Nancy Bass, Polly Bass, and Delia Bass. Elijah Bass Sr was the only one to relocate to Ohio, while the others continued to live in North Carolina. We have already seen the name Racey Bass from the apprenticeship records which show that Willis Bass had a brother named Racey Bass. So it appears Willis Bass named his son Racey Bass, in honor of his brother.

A page from Elijah Bass Jr’s Eastern Cherokee application (#17657). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.
Another page of Elijah Bass Jr’s Eastern Cherokee application (#17657). This page identifies all of the children of Willis and Olive Bass. Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.

Elijah Bass Jr states that he was born on 15 Oct 1835 in Granville Co but relocated with his father Elijah Bass Sr to Lawrence Co, OH a couple of years later. This is consistent with Elijah Bass Sr first appearing in the Lawrence Co, OH census in 1840. However, Elijah Sr’s marriage record to Matilda Dutton of Pennsylvania was recorded on 20 March 1835 in Lawrence Co, OH. It seems unlikely that Elijah Sr would go all the way to Ohio to marry a woman from elsewhere, return to Granville Co where his first son was born, and then a few years later go back to Ohio. In the 1850 census, Elijah Jr’s birthplace is listed as Ohio and every other census after that it was listed as North Carolina. I wonder if Elijah Jr thought he was  born in North Carolina, when he was actually born in Ohio.

Another inconsistency is found when Elijah Bass Jr identified his grandparents as Willis Bass and Olive Stewart. We know from their 1809 marriage record in Granville Co, that Olive’s maiden name was Chavis. It’s possible that she born a Stewart, was first married to a Chavis, became widowed and then married Willis Basss. But I can find no marriage record for an “Olive Stewart”. The Stewarts were another large “free colored”/Native American family in the area, and I suspect that Olive’s mother was a Stewart and the reason why Olive was sometimes known as a Stewart. The Stewarts and Chavises intermarried a lot on both sides of the VA/NC border. Because I have not been able to identify Olive’s parents, I can’t say for certain how the Stewarts fit into her lineage.

Elijah Bass Jr’s Eastern Cherokee application (#17657) includes a handwritten note to the commissioner. Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.
Second page of the hand written note by Elijah Bass Jr included in his Eastern Cherokee application (#17657). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.

In a letter dated 25 Feb 1908, Elijah Bass Jr writes directly to the Guion Miller commissioner to provide some additional background information about his family. There are some big inconsistencies in his narrative with what is found in the actual records. Elijah Jr states that his grandparents (Willis and Olive Bass) had to flee from Virginia into North Carolina in 1812 because they were driven out of their land by white people. And that his grandfather Willis Bass had previously lived on a (Cherokee) reservation in Virginia.

But we know from apprenticeship, marriage, and census records that Willis Bass was born in North Carolina and is in the Granville Co records before 1812. I think this misleading narrative is why Heinegg tried to force a connection between Willis Bass of Granville Co and the James Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. This is why examining the totality of all the records is vital when you have conflicting stories. I do not think Elijah Bass Jr fabricated this story completely and that there is likely some truth in there. The events that he is recalling, happened well before he was born, so that may partially account for the mistakes. But I also wonder if the story about fleeing Virginia for North Carolina was more about his grandmother Olive Chavis’ lineage. Willis Bass’ widow Olive Chavis was enumerated in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses, and her birthplace is given as Virginia. And earlier on in the 1810, 1820, and 1830 censuses, Olive Chavis (counted in her husband Willis Bass’s household) lived close to Evans Chavis (1770-after 1860), Charles Chavis, and Isaac Chavis (1766-1831). These three men were originally from neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA and perhaps were of some relation to Olive Chavis.

I can say with certainty that all the Basses in Granville Co all descend from two brothers: Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) who initially left Virginia for North Carolina in 1720 and whose descendants were in Granville Co by the 1750s. Edward and John Bass were the documented grandsons of British colonist John Bass(e) and his Nansemond Indian wife Elizabeth. If you’d like a good recap of the Bass family of Granville Co, read my previous blog post. So the Basses were well established in Granville Co before 1812.

Bass movement map.001
This map shows the movement of brothers Edward and John Bass from their Nansemond homeland in Virginia to North Carolina. All of Edward Bass’ children and three of John Bass’ children moved and settled in Granville County by the 1750s. © Kianga Lucas

When we look at Elijah Jr’s brother Peter Bass’ Eastern Cherokee application, we find some additional information. In the Guion Miller applications, there is space for respondents to write down their “Indian names”. Peter Bass lists his Indian name as “Peter Chavers” and lists his father Elijah Bass Sr’s Indian name as “Elijah Chavers”. So we can clearly see Willis Bass’ descendants were aware that they descended from the Chavers (Chavis) family, although Chavis/Chavers is not an “Indian name”. This pattern of identifying his paternal lineage with the Chavis surname, could be from knowledge that Jesse Chavis fathered Milly Bass’ children.

Peter Bass
Peter Bass (1844-1922) was the son of Elijah Bass Sr and the grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co. He filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application #44383. Source: Ancestry, Username: rmcilquham1
Fold3_Page_4_Eastern_Cherokee_Applications_of_the_US_Court_of_Claims_19061909 (1)
A page from Peter Bass’ Eastern Cherokee application (#44363). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.

As stated earlier, all of the Eastern Cherokee enrollment applications for Willis Bass’ descendants were rejected. On Alice Revels’ (#14050) application, the Guion Miller commission provided the exact reason why the family’s applications were rejected. The Willis Bass family was never listed on any previous Cherokee rolls, never lived with the Cherokees, and Granville Co was never part of original Cherokee territory.

All applications filed by Willis Bass’ descendants were rejected. The commission provided the exact reasons on Alice Revels’ application (#14050). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.
Samuel Bass and Eliza Jane Murphy
Samuel Bass (1838-1906) with wife Eliza Jane Murphy. He was the son of Elijah Bass Sr and the grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Samuel died just before the Eastern Cherokee application process started. Source: Ancestry, Username: SchusterL41
Elizabeth Bass
Elizabeth Bass (1840-1902) was the daughter of Elijah Bass Sr and the granddaughter of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Elizabeth died a few years before the Eastern Cherokee application process began. Source: Ancestry, Username: rmcilquham1
Ransom Bass
Ransom Bass (1861-1947) was the son of Elijah Bass Jr, grandson of Elijah Bass Sr, and great-grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville County. Ransom filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application (#18015). Source: Ancestry, Username: rmcilquham1
Matilda Bass
Matilda (Bass) Newville (1863-1933) was the daughter of Elijah Bass Jr, granddaughter of Elijah Bass Sr, and great granddaughter of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville County. Matilda filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application (#15670). Source: Ancestry, Username: deborah3311
Mansfield Bass
Mansfield Bass (1870-1945) was the son of Elijah Bass Jr, grandson of Elijah Bass Sr, and great grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville County. Mansfield filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application (#17659). Source: Ancestry, Username:


In February 2016, Paul Heinegg updated the Bass section of his website with some of the corrected information I discussed above. He no longer has the Willis Bass who was the son of James Bass b. 1760 of Norfolk CO, VA and Bedford Co, TN as the same Willis Bass of Granville Co who was actually the son of Milly Bass and Jesse Chavis. Heinegg also provided additional records for the James Bass b. 1760 of Norfolk Co, VA and Bedford Co, TN so if you are a descendant of the this branch of the Bass family, it is worthwhile to revisit Heinegg’s Bass section:

19 thoughts on “Important Update for Willis Bass of Granville County

  1. On the 1805 Abrams Plain Granville tax record Isaac Chavis and Pearson Hawley were located there. I believe Pearson’s wife Milly Bass was the daughter Benjamin Bass Jr, who also had a bastard child with my descendant Jesse Chavis in 1794 bondsman were Benjamin Bass and Absalom Bass. On the 1798 Granville, Tax list for Tar River district, Isaac Chavis appeared along with Absolom Bass and Benjamin Bass jr. On the 1798 Abrams Plains tax record Isaac Chavis now appeared along with Evins Chavis. There clearly is a close relation with Jesse, Evans, and Isaac Chavis to the Benjamin Bass family in Tar River. Sampson Bass orphan of Benjamin Bass was bound to Isaac Chavis in 1800.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Greetings! I’m interested in your Bass/Chavis family info as this is my family. My lineage is from Elijah JR, Peter’s brother I couldn’t find much on Elijah Sr or Matilda, his wife before 1860. Then I couldn’t get passed Willis Bass… I have been researching our line for yrs…I knew deep down we were from a female Bass and so much has been written. Would love hearing from you, thank you for your time! Sherelyn

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sherelyn,

        Thank you for reading the blog! I’m also a Chavis and Bass descendant. I have a few dozen blog posts that are recommended reading material because they all relate to our indigenous heritage of Granville Co: where your Bass and Chavis ancestors came from. What information are you looking for? Be sure to read my Bass blog post explaining the Bass family’s Nansemond origins. And please sign up to follow the blog so that you receive updates on future blog posts.


  2. I am confused about this Willis Bass and his alleged son, Elijah J Bass sr born 1809 in Robeson, North Carolina. And there seems to be a great deal of confusion among other researchers of this family on the internet. Elijah 1809 is the father of Elijah born 1835 in Ohio.

    I am not sure if Elijah 1809 is actually the son of Willis, or if his parents were Elijah born 1775 in Anson , North Carolina and Elizabeth Milbury. This line would go back through Frederick born 1745 in NC, William born 1712 in VA, John 1673 in VA and Love Harris, William 1654 VA and Catherine, and John Bass 1616 England and Kesiah Elizabeth the Nansemond.

    I base this information on the research I have done, multiple DNA tests and results and the opinion of Marcia McClure the administrator of the Bass DNA project and a well respected Bass researcher. I also respect the work Kianga has done on the Bass and related families.

    I would like to know the opinions of others who descend from this line.



    1. Hi Bob,

      Thank you for commenting. According to Elijah Bass Jr’s (b. 1835 in Ohio) own words and testimony provided in his Guion Miller application, his grandparents were Willis and Olive Bass of Granville County, NC. I provided some images from that application in this blogpost, so make sure to take a look. In addition, the 16 applications from Elijah Bass’ other relatives including his own brother Peter Bass, all include testimony in which they identify Willis and Olive Bass of Granville County, NC as the parents of Eljah Bass Sr (b. 1809 in NC). So Elijah Bass and his family are quite consistent with identifying their Bass lineage through Willis and Olive Bass. The marriage, census, and apprenticeship records for Willis Bass in Granville Co are all consistent as well. None of the Guion Miller applications name Elijah and Elizabeth (Milbury) Bass of Anson Co, NC as the parents are Elijah Bass (b. 1809 in NC).
      Elijah Bass (b. 1809) was born in Granville County, not Robeson County. His parents Willis Bass and Olive Chavis married in Granville Co on 4 Jan 1809 and are enumerated in the 1810, 1820, and 1830 censuses in Granville.

      The confusion likely comes from an earlier researcher mixing up the identities of Elijah Bass (s/o of Willis and Olive Bass) and Elijah Bass (s/o Elijah and Elizbaeth Milbury Bass of Anson Co, NC).



  3. Among other things that do not make sense to me, I cannot figure out this marriage of Pearson Hawley to Milly Bass , they had a son Willis BASS. Why is he known by the maternal surname instead of his father’s ? Common sense would indicate he is a Hawley and only a Bass on the maternal side. Am I missing something ? Is this Willis a descendant of William Bass 1654 son of Keziah the Nansemond ?


    1. Bob, there is a lot of information in this blog post, so I recommend taking another read through. Milly Bass married Pearson Hawley AFTER she had her children out of wedlock. Pearson Hawley is not their father and I never said so in this blog post. The Granville County apprenticeship records, bastardy bonds and court minutes indicate that Milly Bass had two children out of wedlock with Jesse Chavis. When children are born out of wedlock they usually take the mother’s surname.
      I have two other Bass blog posts that are relevant to this discussion that you should read because they answer your questions. See my blog post titled “The Nansemond Indian Bass Family of Granville”. In that blog post I detail generation by generation, the Bass family from Nansemond to Granville County. In the blog post you will see that all of our Basses in Granville County (self included) are direct lineal descendants of William Bass b 1654, son of Elizabeth the baptized Nansemond Indian woman. All of our Granville County Basses descend from William Bass (b. 1654) sons’ Edward Bass and John Bass.
      The second blog post you should read is “Is Jesse Chavis the father of Willis Bass of Granville County?”. In that blog post I review the Granville records which indicate that the man who fathered Milly Bass’ children was Jesse Chavis. Some additional info that is not included in that blog post, is that several descendants of Elijah Bass b. 1809 whom I’m in touch with, have done DNA testing and are cousin matching direct lineal descendants of Jesse Chavis through his other children.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have read your material several times over the past few years, as I have any other research I can find about the Bass family. I enjoy your work and I like your collection of photos and documents.
        I am not a beginner, I have been researching the Bass family for decades. Before all of the wonderful resources on the internet and long before DNA, which has been very important to Bass research.

        I really got into this family because I thought this Elijah may be a close relative of my fifth great grandfather Frederick born 1745 in North Carolina who migrated to Gallia County, Ohio around 1800. I call them the lost Bass family because no one knows anything about them. BUT this family is not related. As a matter of fact I am not sure this family really does know exactly who they are. They are very inconsistent and they claim to be Cherokee. I have never found a Bass who was Cherokee in that time period. In Peter’s obit he claimed that his father was a full blooded Cherokee chief and that he is the last of a long line of Cherokee chieftains.
        As for Milly Bass we do not have any proof what so ever that she was a Bass by blood. She does not seem to have parents by that name. She could have been a slave or an indentured servant who took the Bass surname. I will consider this family a Chavez family because there is more information leading us to that conclusion than there is to Bass.


  4. We have recently taken in a Y-DNA study member who is a perfect YDNA match to the line of Willis Bass who married the Chavis. We have an exact Y DNA line with this male as well as males in the YDNA project other than Bass surname however no Chavis matches. I would like to further discuss the situation of ancestry between these lines and their possible progenitor forefather.


    1. Hello,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I have closely reviewed the y-DNA results showing that direct male descendants of the “free colored” DIAL family match several direct male descendants of Jesse Chavis and Milly Bass’ son Willis Bass. This would suggest that the Chavis and Dial families share a direct male ancestor some time in the past. And I have found a record which would lend some credence to this theory.
      First a review. Milly Bass on 4 August 1794 provided court sworn testimony that Jesse Chavis fathered a bastard child with her. Her brothers Benjamin Bass and Absalom Bass were the sureties of that bond. I originally only had the transcription of this bastardy bond provided by the late genealogist Betty Camin. However I have since with the help of other researchers, located a copy of the original bastardy bond and it is now included in this blog post. Not only did Milly Bass name Jesse Chavis as the father, but he was neighbors to her family, placing him in the right place at the right time to father children with her. The Basses and Chavises intermarried very frequently in the Granville community. And Jesse Chavis had already fathered a child out of wedlock with Rhody Anderson, providing precedent that Jesse Chavis did father children out of wedlock. I have no solid reason to doubt the validity of Milly Bass’ court sworn testimony that Jesse Chavis was the father. I have also triangulated shared DNA segments from a variety of descendants of Jesse Chavis’ different children, including the ones who descend from his son Willlis Bass. Finally, there were no Dial family members residing in the close knit Granville community which tells us we need to go further back along the Chavis family tree to find a link.

      More on Jesse Chavis:
      Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) was the son of Gideon/Gibeon Chavis and a white woman named Ann Priddy.
      Gideon/Gibeon Chavis (1737-1777) was the son of William Chavis and Frances Gibson.
      William Chavis (1706-1778) was the son of Bartholomew Chavis and Martha (maiden name unknown).
      Bartholomew Chavis (1685-1750) is a brick wall and his parentage is unknown. The early part of Bartholomew’s life was in Henrico and Surry Cos, VA. He then moved to North Carolina and can be found in the Edgecombe and Halifax Co records.
      There is a record which places him with the earliest known ancestors of the Dial family:

      “Taphel (Tapley) Dyal, James Dyal, John Tapley, Thos. Tapley, Roger Case, and Bat Cheavers (Chavis) were among the freeholders of Edgecombe Precinct, North Carolina, who petitioned in 1732 to alter the seat of government from Edenton [Cain, Robert J. and Kathleen Wyche, Records of the Executive Council, 1664-1734, 7:298-9].”

      Therefore it could be Bartholomew Chavis and Tapley Dial and James Dial were siblings, first cousins, 2nd cousins, or of some other close family relationship stemming from a shared paternal ancestor. Going forward, researchers trying to push through the brick walls of Bartholomew Chavis, Tapley Dial and James Dial, should keep in mind that direct male descendants of these men share y-DNA. So at some point, their paternal lines should cross.

      Liked by 1 person

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