Lewis Bassitt (1825-1902) and Sarah Edgecomb (1831-1891)
Key words: Lewis Bassitt, Lewis Bassett, Sarah Edgecomb Bassitt, Sarah Edgecomb Bassett, Sarah Bassitt, Sarah Bassett, Lewis and Sarah Edgecomb Bassitt, Lewis and Sarah Edgecomb Bassett, Lewis and Sarah Bassett, Lewis and Sarah Bassitt
Sarah Edgecomb, daughter of Uriah and Betsey Edgecomb, and Lewis Bassitt, son of Samuel and Elsie (Lewis) Bassitt, were married on 29 Dec 1847.1 Their families were well acquainted - in fact Lewis' oldest sister Laura had married Sarah's older brother Walter seven years earlier. On April 4th of the following year, Lewis paid $107.20 to buy forty acres of land in section 12 of Bath Township from the State of Ohio. (This land had been granted by an act of congress to the state to aid in financing the construction of the Miami and Erie Canal. The canal, which connected Lake Erie with the Ohio River, was completed in 1845 and ran through the western edge of Allen County.) Lewis and Sarah settled down on this land, which is located northeast of the intersection of present-day Bluelick and Thayer Roads, and which adjoined the farm of Lewis' parents to the south.
Sarah and Lewis began rearing a large family, which eventually grew to eleven children:
Left image: (l-r) Front row: Marquis, Lewis, Sarah (Edgecomb), Samuel H. Back row: Lewis E., William, Ann (Roeder), Nelson, Jane (Flager). On that day, Philo was mad and would not have his picture taken with the others. (original in possession of James H. Bassett, scanned from a negative taken by Steven J. Baskauf) Right image: Philo Bassett (original in possession of Steven J. Baskauf, direct scan)
From their early days, the boys had to work hard helping their dad with the farm work. And he certainly needed help with more and more little mouths to feed. Sarah must have been very busy, since for years there were no girls in the family to help her. The family also took an interest in spiritual matters, as evidenced by their support of the American Bible Society in 1863.10
In 1864, there were distractions for teenage boys as the Civil War raged and the local newspapers whipped up sentiments with calls for patriotic young men to enlist. The promise of adventure, lure of $300 bounty money, and the example of several cousins enticed Sam to persuade his parents to let him enlist at the age of only fifteen. On February 12, he was mustered into company I of the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and left six days later for an experience that would change his life forever. His exploits are chronicled in a series of letters that he wrote home which were carefully saved by his parents11 and can still be seen at the Allen County Museum in Lima. In these letters, one can trace changes in his outlook as he moved with his unit through the South:
February the 22nd, 1864
Camp of the 27th Ohio Regiment
Chattahoochee River, Georgia
July the 14th A.D., 1864
Hospital 1st Division 17th Army Corpse
Goldsboro North Carolina March 29th A.D. 1865
We don't know the thought and feelings experienced by Lewis and Sarah at this time since their letters weren't preserved. But a few quotes from Samuel's letters give us glimpses of loving parents' concern for their son far away:
With Sam far away in the army, a lot of responsibility fell on Philo and Marquis who were only 12 and 10.
Samuel did come back to Ohio after the war, and the family was reunited again. Sometime in the 1870's, Lewis built a large house for his family on the farm. The house on the east side of Thayer Rd. just north of Bluelick Rd. is still standing there today and has been occupied by generations of the family through Lewis' great-great-great grandsons.
Philo followed in his father Lewis' footsteps on the farm. As a young man, he and his second cousin, Franklin P. Edgecomb worked splitting rails for fences from timber cut in the forests of Bath Township. "When we were boys, Philo Bassett and I had never made rails, but we wanted to try. We made 4000 for my father, 5000 for Lew Bassett (Philo's father) and 17 000 for Almon Hadsell. By that time we felt as if we knew how to make rails!"17 Frank Edgecomb also recalled an experience he had once with Lewis:
In about 1890, all of the children who lived into adulthood got together for a family photograph. Unfortunately, on that day Philo (who had quite a temper) was mad about something and refused to go and have his picture taken with the rest. Soon afterward, Sarah died on 1891 January 28, probably of cancer. A large portrait of Sarah was made from that family photograph; perhaps it was commissioned by her grieving husband.
In his old age, Lewis would often drive a horse and buggy up to Beaverdam to visit his grandchildren (Samuel's children) there. DeWitt Bassett remembered that as a child he used to talk to him during those visits. He was a "nice old fellow", and no longer had the beard that he had during his earlier years.18 In 1899, Lewis received a letter from his son Samuel, who at that time was working in the Treasury Dept. in Washington, DC. The letter gives a feeling of how their lives had diverged since Samuel left Ohio: " … I want you to answer this Father and tell me all the news. How your crops are, and how you are all getting along. How is the oil excitement, and have they found oil on your farm yet? How is the wheat and corn, and hay and hogs. It has been so long since I have been in a wheat field, or had any thing to do with any such things, that I am getting rather homesick to be with them again and see whether it would seem natural. I am shut up here in the office from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon without even the sun shining on me …" [read full letter]
Lewis died on 25 March 1902 and was buried next to Sarah in the old cemetery on the east side of Beaverdam.
According to Frank G. Lewis, a genealogist working on Bassett genealogy in 1919, the spelling Bassitt is unique to the Allen County, Ohio Bassetts.20 All other Bassetts around the country spell the name Bassett.
This can be understood when realizes that Samuel and Elsa Bassitt, parents of Lewis, who came to Allen County when their children were quite young, could not write their names. In deeds from New York to Ohio, they signed by an "X". For example:
Since there were few other Bassetts in the area, people simply spelled the name the way it sounded: Bassitt, Bassit, Basset, etc.
Samuel and Elsie had only one son, Lewis, and he and all of his family signed their name Bassitt into the 20th century. When Samuel and Elsa died, both of their tombstones were inscribed Bassitt. Although Bassitt seems to have been the accepted spelling, the spelling didn't seem to be an issue until about 1920 . Lewis and Sarah, who died in 1902 and 1891 respectively, share one tombstone, yet on one side it says Lewis Bassitt and on the other side Sarah Bassett.
The "correctness" of the spelling of the name seems to have only become an issue with the grandchildren of Lewis and successive generations. Of the four sons of Lewis which had descendants bearing the family name, descendants of Samuel H. and Philo use Bassett, and those of Marquis and William19 use Bassitt.
The greatest amount of "argument" (all in fun, of course) about the issue of spelling seems to be between descendants of Philo and Marquis. Perhaps this is because those two seem to have been the most stubborn of Lewis' sons! In defense of the -ett clan, everybody else does spell it that way. However the -itt branch claims that that is only because the -ett Bassetts are too lazy to dot the i. Only time will tell if the conflict will ever be resolved!
This account was taken from History
of the Edgecomb, Bassitt, and Snyder Families of Allen County, Ohio by
Steven J. Bassett Baskauf, 2007. This portion of the book is freely
available under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License provided you give the citation
listed above. On the web, a link to this page would be helpful.
Comments? Questions? Contact Steve Baskauf
10. Pledge of $5.00 to the American Bible Society by Lewis Bassitt of Bath Township, Allen County, Ohio, 1863 Sep 25. Located in the Genealogy and Family History files of the Allen County Museum, Lima, Ohio.
12. Civil War letters of Samuel Bassitt, written to family members from 1864 Feb 22 to 1865 Sep 12. The originals and typewritten transcripts are found in the Allen County Museum, Allen County, Ohio.
21. The name "Rozetta" has always been somewhat of a mystery since it is a somewhat unusual name and there were no known relatives who also had this name. However, it now seems probably that Elsie (Lewis) Bassitt (mother of Lewis Bassitt) was a sister of Betsy (Lewis) Snyder. It also now seems likely based on circumstantial evidence that Peter and Betsy Snyder had a daughter Rosetta (Snyder) Richardson. If these suppositions are true, then Lewis Bassett and Rosetta Richardson would be first cousins. Lewis was a baby when his family moved to Trumbull County from New York in about 1826. Mary Rosetta would have been about 10 years older than him and if her family moved to Trumbull County at the same time as the Bassetts (as I believe they did) and were neighbors (as I think they were), she might have been his older playmate or perhaps baby sitter for the first several years of Lewis' life. That may have inspired him to name his first daughter after her.
See also sworn affidavits by Philo Bassett outlining family connections discussed in this section: from Abstract of the Title of Philo Bassett, 17 Oct 1903 and from Abstract of the Title of Claude G. Vore, 29 Mar 1927 (both originals in possession of Lewis E. Bassett).
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