Bass

Elisha Bass farm.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“According to local tradition this house was built for Elisha Bass, Jr., on land deeded to Edward Bass in 1745. The Elisha Bass house is set in a grove of trees and is oriented away from the road. It now forms the rear section of a turn-of-the-century farmhouse built circa 1890 by Shelby Bass. The oldest section probably dates between 1830 and 1940. The three-bay gable-roof house has exterior end chimneys with tumbled weatherings. The kitchen, which was originally part of the early section of the house, still stands on the property.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Elisha Bass, 35; wife Sarah, 30; and son Hardy, 1. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Elisha Bass enslaved a 40 and a 16 year-old man.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Elisha Bass, 47; son Nathan, 9; and farm laborer Redmon Lodge, 17. Bass listed $3500 in real property and $4317 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included a 20 year-old woman, a three year-old girl, and four boys and men, aged three months to 30 years.

Elisha Bass was just one of several white Basses who enslaved people in Wilson County. The 1870 census of Black Creek township lists 134 African-Americans with the surname Bass living in households across eastern Wilson County in Black Creek, Stantonsburg, Gardners, Wilson, Joyners and Cross Roads townships.

Arthur Bass farm.

Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“This house is said to have been the property of Arthur Bass. According to the Wayne County census of 1850 Arthur Bass was born in 1816. Little is known of Bass’ life. … The Bass House appears to date from the 1830s and it consists of a two-story dwelling with an attached shed porch and three-bay façade. Under the porch the façade is sheathed in flush boards instead of the unusual weatherboards, the main house is linked with the kitchen by an open breezeway on the eastern elevation and this breezeway shelters an unusual enclosed exterior stair. On the first floor of the main house there are two main rooms, while the second floor appears to have been one large room.”

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In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse River, Wayne County, North Carolina [in an area which became part of Black Creek township, Wilson County, in 1855]: farmer Arthur Bass, 34; wife Martha, 19; and daughter Zilla, 8 months. Per the 1850 slave schedule of the same district, Arthur Bass enslaved a 25 year-old woman, a three year-old boy and a two year-old girl.

In the 1860 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Arthur Bass, 46; wife Pattie, 28; and children Zillah, 11, Louisa, 8, Perry, 6, and William, 2 months. He listed $4000 in real property and $7000 in personal property. His personal property, per the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County, included five enslaved girls and women ranging from 8 months to 32 years old and two enslaved boys. aged 12 and five.

Arthur Bass was just one of several white Basses who enslaved people in Wilson County. The 1870 census of Wilson County lists 134 African-Americans with the surname Bass living in households across eastern Wilson County in Black Creek, Stantonsburg, Gardners, Wilson, Joyners and Cross Roads townships.

But sell Gatsey: the last will and testament of James A. Barnes.

The will by which James A. Barnes determined the fates of 24 enslaved people, including Howell Darden and Easter Bass:

In the name of God Amen I James A Barnes of the State of North Carolina, and County of Edgecombe being in a low State of health but of sound disposing mind and memory blessed be God for the same, being desirous of disposing of my worldly Estate do make & constitute this my last will and Testament revoking all other wills by me heretofore made

Item 1st. I lend unto my beloved wife Sarah Barnes during the time of her natural life the following tract of land Beginning on Big Contentnea Creek at the mouth of a ditch wherein it Enters into said Creek at the flax hold, thence running Eastwardly with the ditch to the line of the land of John Barnes dec’d thence north said deceased line nearly North to a fence thence north said fence to my crop fence, thence west said cross fence to the next cross fence, thence west that fence to the gum swamp where formerly stood a bridge, thence down the various of said swamp to the creek and down the various courses of the creek to the Beginning containing one hundred acres more of less with the express and direct priviledge of getting of timber off any of my land to keep up her farm Excepting out of the land bound to her the small piece of land whereon Eliza Bass now lives which includes three acres more or less, her houses and improvements also excepting one half acre of land at or near a posimon tree standing on the North Side of the lane running Eastwardly from wherein I live at the place wherein Theophilus Bass lives I also lend unto my beloved wife all of my Kitchen furniture & dairy utensils one Mahoggany side Board, one little do., all my chairs, all my earthen ware and glass ware of every description, all of my knives and forks, all of my spoons flat Irons and my and irons all of my wooden ware of every description one half of my brandy Still all of my Cider barrels, also the following negroes during the term of her natural life, negro man Tom, Mary, Esther & Charles except the time of Charles, which I may in an after clause in this will direct him to be bound out. Also I lend unto her my wheat fan[?] boiler & gun

Item 2nd. Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Sarah, the following negro Slaves Amos, Bob, Silvia, Ransom & Rose, two beds, bedsteds & furniture her choice, one chest her choice one sorrel mare & her colt Bob, one Bay Mare mule, two cows and calves her choice, one white heifer from four to five years old, fifteen dollars in money, three sows & piggs her choice, all of my plows [illegible] & plow gear, lines plow bits Stems Keys [illegible] Irons & all of my axes grubbin hoes, weeding hoes, chisels, saws, drawing knives, all the poultry & geese, six stacks of fodder her choice, twelve bushels of seed [illegible] all of the flax on hand, all the wheels and cards, the loom and all the gear, fifty pounds of pick cotton all the [illegible] all the oats twenty five bushels of wheat one barrel of brandy her choice one candle mould one lantern, one wash basin one large cupboard two candlesticks all the sifters and trays fifty barrels of good Corn & twenty five fat hoggs her choice my apple mills & cider presses to her and her heirs forever.

Item 3rd. I give and bequeath unto my nephew Theophilus Bass the priviledge of using one half acre of Land whereon he now lives also the whole of the Jacob S. Barnes tract of land containing one hundred and fifty acres of land more or less excepting and reserving to my wife apart of this land loaned to her in this Will during the Term of her life. Also I give unto him the said Theophilus Bass his heirs and assigns forever one certain part of the Lott of land I drew in the division of the real estate of John Barnes and adjoining Willis Simms near the gum pond or Swamp Jacob S. Barnes to co[illegible] all the land north of a dam near the Broken leg for the purpose of straitening our his fence to come along the Cross fence that Comes through to the pond to Sarah Barnes line of the land loaned to her in this will. Also one half of my brandy still also the negroes to my wife which is loaned to her trust, Negroe Mary, Esther, & Charles which gift to him is to Command at the death of my wife, one bay horse called Lany, one cow & carlin[?] which is called his, my blacksmiths tools, one horses cart & wheels and all the other property to him & his heirs which is loaned to my wife in this ill which gift to him is to command. It is however my will and desire that Theophilus Bass is to pay one hundred dollars in money before he receives any thing under this will

Item 4th. It is my will and desire the negro fellow Charles is to be hired out as long as my wife lives and the money arising from said hire to be applied enough of it to pay my debt if it is required for that purpose, and if not one half of his hire to pay to Theophilus Bass and the other half to my wife Sarah Barnes.

Item 5th. I give and bequeath to Martha Tomberlin wife of Daniel [David?] Tomberlin Dinah to her & her nears and assigns for ever but is to pay Patience Darden 54 dollars in two years from this date

Item 6. I give and bequeath to Tresy Darden daughter of McKinly Darden boy Jack to her, her heirs and assigns forever but this Legatee is bound to pay Patience Darden Ten dollars in two years

Item 7th. It is my will and desire that my negro man Tom choose his Master and to be valued by two disinterested men at the death of my wife

Item 8 – I give and bequeath unto McKinley Darden his heirs and assigns forever negro man Howell about twenty two or three years of age but he is hereby to pay back to my Executor fifty dollars before he is to have him

Item 9th Item – I give and bequeath unto my Sister Beedy Woodard of the State of Georgia boy Irvin which boy she has in her possession which I have given her a bill of sale for to her and her heirs and assigns forever.

Item 10th. I give and bequeath unto Eliza Bass widow of James Bass one negro fellow Jordan, all the household and Kitchen furniture in her possession, wheels, cards, cart & gear to her & her heirs and assigns forever.

Item 11th. I give and bequeath the following negro slaves (to wit) Rindy, Abraham, Rody, Alexander & Bob to the three children of Theophilus Bass dec’d. George Washington Bass, Thomas Warren Bass & Jessee Jackson Bass, with this express condition that the above bound five negroes shall be bound to pay notes out of hand for fifty or sixty dollars I gave to Jacob G. Barnes Administrator of James Bass dec. to them, their heirs and assigns forever.

Item 12th. It is my will and desire that the widow of James Bass, Eliza Bass have use and occupy all the Lands I own on the East side of Big Contentnea & south side of my land, not heretofore mentioned to my wife and Theophilus Bass, during the time she may live single or life to her death and at such time as she may marry or die, it is my will and desire that the three lotts of land I drew of the John Barnes dec’d tract the one I drew and two I purchased of Julius Bass & Beedy Woodard to belong to Thomas Warren Bass and the balance loaned to her in this Item to belong to George Washington Bass & Jesse Jackson Bass, Share and Share alike to them their heirs and assigns forever.

Item 13th. It is my will and desire that the tract of land of mine in Wane County near where I live containing seventy two acres or thereabouts to belong to Eliza Bass and Theophilus Share and Share alike and so to remain until one or the other of them dies & then the tract is to be sold in Six months and the money arising from said sale to be equally divided between them or their heirs and assigns

Item 14th. It is my will and desire that my sister Julian Bass to have two hundred dollars in money

Item 15th. It is my will and desire that my sister child, Margarett Evans of the State of Georgia have three hundred & fifty Dollars to her & her heirs and assigns forever.

Item 16th. It is my will and desire & I so direct my negro girl Gatsy all the balance of my estate of every description not given away in this will be sold on a credit of six months & the money arising therefrom to pay all my debts and legacies

Item 17th. It is my will and desire that my Friend Wyatt Moye Executor to this my last will and Testament this 14th October 1848. Signed, Sealed and declared in presence of Woodard Cook, Edwin Barnes.   James A. Barnes {seal}

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.

Howell and Easter Darden.

kenneth___nina_speight

Nina and Kenneth Speight, probably near Stantonsburg, Wilson County, perhaps 1940s.

Nina Darden Speight was born in 1901 in Black Creek township, Wilson County, to Crawford F. and Mattie Woodard Darden. Her father, born about 1869 in Black Creek, was the youngest of several children born to Howell Darden and Esther (or Easter) Bass, and their only child born free. (Esther’s maiden name also appears as “Jordan” on the marriage license of one of her children.)

nina-darden

Crawford and Mattie Darden and children, including Nina at upper left, circa 1910.

On 11 August 1866, Howell and Easter registered their cohabitation with a county justice of the peace and thereby legalized their 18-year marriage. Their older children included Warren (born circa 1849, married Louisa Dew), Eliza (born circa 1852, married Henry Dortch), Martin (born circa 1853, married Jane Dew) and Toby Darden (born circa 1858.) Esther Darden died 1870-1880, and Howell Darden between 1880 and 1900. Crawford Darden died 3 August 1934.

Evidence that Howell Darden and Esther Bass were both owned by James A. Barnes may be found in his will, dated October 14, 1848, and probated at February Court, 1849 in Edgecombe County. Among other property real and personal, Barnes’ wife Sarah received a life interest in several slaves — Mary, Esther and Charles — whose ownership would revert to nephew Theophilus Bass upon her death. To McKinley Darden, Barnes bequeathed “Negro Howell.”