Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
W. BASSETT, a leading business man of Washtucna, than whom few men now
living have been more closely identified with the early history of the
Northwest, is a native of Clinton county, Iowa, born December 31, 1845.
He is the son of G. B. O. and Mary (Smith) Bassett, the father a native
of Vermont and the mother of Canada. After their marriage the parents
settled in Iowa, remained there until 1854, then removed to Filmore county,
Minnesota, where they lived until 1866. With the Captain J. L. Fisk
expedition, they then removed to Helena, Montana, and in 1872 came to Walla
Walla, Washington. They returned to Minnesota in 1878, where the
father died during the same year. In 1889 the mother returned to
Walla Walla, and now, at the age of eighty-seven, she is living with her
son of whom we write. Our subject is of English, Welsh and Irish
blood, his father having been of English-Welsh and his mother of Irish
extraction. He is a member of a family of ten children, four of whom
now live. Two brothers, Judge H. S. Bassett and G. B. O. Bassett,
live at Preston, Minnesota, and another, S. S. Bassett., is an attorney
Mr. Bassett received
a grammar school education in Iowa, which was supplemented by a course
in the Cedar Valley seminary at Osage, Iowa. In 1866, in company
with his parents, he came to Montana, where he prospected and mined until
he came to Walla Walla in 1869. During that same year he went on
a tour to Salem, Oregon, and Olympia, Washington, then returned to Walla
Walla and taught a term of school. The spring following he engaged
in the business of buying horses in the territory of Washington and selling
them in Montana, making his last trip in that business in 1872, when his
father and mother returned with him to Walla Walla. Returning to
Montana he engaged in mining until 1874. On August 24 of that year,
he was married at Virginia City, Montana, to Alice C. Lancaster.
Then he came again to Walla Walla and engaged in the freighting business,
traversing Washington, Oregon and Idaho, until 1877, when he took a position
as clerk in a store. Two years later he came to Washtucna, took land
and in July, 1893, platted the townsite of Washtucna. In 1879 he
brought his family to the place where he has since lived.
Upon coming to the present
site of the town he engaged in the stock business and has followed it,
in connection with his other enterprises, to date. As Washtucna was
a convenient stopping place for travellers going south to Walla Walla,
Mr. Bassett opened an inn, about the time he made his home there, which
inn became one of the most popular hostelries in eastern Washington.
Mr. Bassett has acquired three thousand acres of land in the immediate
vicinity of his town, and annually harvests an enormous quantity of grain
and hay. His residence, which is in Washtucna, is the finest in the
Since the raising of
wheat became an established industry of the country, our subject has been
engaged more or less in speculating in that commodity. In 1901 he
engaged in the hardware and farm implement business, but also continues
to manage his farming operations.
Mr. Bassett's wife is
the daughter of David and Mary (Pool) Lancaster, both of English birth.
Early in life they came to the United States and settled in Michigan, where
Mrs. Bassett was born. Besides Mrs. Bassett, they reared two other
children, Gertrude A., and James W., both of Los Angeles, where the brother
is an employee of the Wells Fargo Express Company.
The subject of our sketch
has been active in politics ever since attaining his majority. He
is a life-long Republican, and in 1885 he was elected to the office of
county commissioner of Adams county, which office he held two consecutive
terms. In 1882 he was appointed the first postmaster in Adams county,
and retained that office until 1894. In 1903 he was elected a member
of the State House of Representatives. He is a Mason and a member
of the Presbyterian church.
Mr. and Mrs. Bassett
have been parents of eight children, only four of whom are now living.
They are: L. L., married and living in Washtucna; Charles S., Esther and
Georgia, who live with their parents.