Join Our Team



Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 240~



Herman Bassett


Herman Bassett, one of the early settlers and a representative farmer of Putnam Township, residing on section 11, was born in Lee Township, Berkshire County, Mass., February 7, 1828. The Bassett family was founded in this country at an early day. Nathan Bassett, the grandfather of our subject, was probably born and spent his earlier years on Cape Cod, whence he removed to Berkshire County, Mass., about 1796. He was a man of considerable property and left a large estate to his children. His farm was improved with all the accessories known in those days and there was also a blacksmith and carpenter shop upon it and his grain was ground in his own gristmill. He possessed a strong mind, became an influential citizen of the community and was held in the highest regard by all who knew him. He served as a Deacon in the Congregational Church from 1826 until 1842, in which year his death occurred.

He was the father of four daughters and two sons - Nathan and Gershom. The former was born in Wareham, Mass., in 1793, and spent his entire life upon a farm in Berkshire County. On the division of his father's estate he received the old homestead as his share and never left it for unfamiliar scenes. He became Captain in the State militia and was also a prominent citizen of the community. He could do all kinds of work, did his own blacksmithing, carpentering, and even did the shoemaking for his family. He was zealous in church work, active in all public enterprises and a stanch Abolitionist. He voted for James G. Birney, the first Abolition candidate, and supported the principles of that party when it was a dangerous thing to do so. He served as Superintendent of the Sunday-school for many years, for a long time was Deacon in the Congregational Church and when at last he was called to his final rest, the friends and relatives who came to pay their last tribute of respect to the dead were so numerous that no larger funeral was ever seen in the county. He died in February, 1842, at the age of forty-eight years. His wife, whose maiden name was Maria G. Howk, was of Holland descent, and belonged to one of the oldest families in that community. The Van Huycks, for such was the name originally, came from Holland to New York in the ship, 'Golden Eagle,' in 1662, and in the list of freeholders of the city and county of Albany, published in 1720, appears the name of Johannes Van Huyck, a resident of Kinderhook. In 1773, Richard Van Huyck, probably a son of Johannes, removed form Kinderhook to Lee, Mass., accompanied by his wife, five sons and three daughters, and one son was born subsequently. He first purchased one hundred and seventy-one acres of land in 1771 for 270 pounds, and afterward increased his landed possessions until he owned one thousand acres which he intended to settle upon his sons, wishing them to become farmers. He lived in a log house and died at his home in 1777, his wife, whose maiden name was Jemima Van Dusen, dying in 1779. Three of his sons, Isaac, Albert and John, settled in Lee. The last named is the father of Mrs. Bassett and the grandfather of our subject. He was only thirteen years of age when his parents removed to Lee, then a hamlet containing only five families. He married Catherine Hollenbeck of Ergremont, who was also of Holland descent and unto them were born eight children who were reared to habits of industry and independence. The father and sons were their own mechanics, making and repairing their own wagons and tools, and the mother and daughters wove and spun the flax and wool from which was made the clothing for the male members of the family, as well as their own. John Howk was one of the first merchants in the town of Lee, Mass., keeping store in a part of an old log house which his father had built. He was a man of tall, athletic frame, strong and muscular; was firm in his convictions and if he believed himself to be right maintained his opinion against all odds. He died in 1783 and his good wife in 1849, at the advanced age of eighty-six years. The name had gradually changed from Van Huyck to Van Howk, and finally was written simply Howk.

Maria G., one of the children of John Howk became the wife of Nathan Bassett in 1817, and unto them were born seven sons and two daughters, but the latter died in childhood. The sons grew to manhood and Alexander, the eldest, was a prominent worker in church and educational work from the age of eighteen years, engaged in teaching. Elisha B., who is also now deceased served as a Captain in the late war, was captured and confined in Libby prison and remained in the service until peace was declared but died soon afterward from the effects of disease contracted therein. He was Probate Judge in Michigan where he made his home for some time. Henry M., deceased, was an engineer and farmer who resided on the old homestead in Massachusetts; Herman is the next younger; Chauncey became a Brigadier General during the late war and was killed on a gunboat on the Red River; George F., who has spent many years in a paper mill, is now the owner of an orange grove in Florida; Charles, who was a farmer by occupation, enlisted in a regimental band and died in the army.

Our subject remained on the old homestead farm until twenty-six years of age and received a good education in the public schools and in an academy. In 1853 he went to Illinois, locating in Whiteside County, on the Rock River, where he purchased a farm. Then returning to Massachusetts he married Permelia A. Jenkins on August 28, 1854. She was born in Central New York, and with her parents, Robert H. and Rhoda H. (Norton) Jenkins, went to Berkshire County, Mass., when eight years of age. Her mother's death occurred in the Bay State and her father spent his last days in Illinois. Mr. Bassett took his young bride to his new home in the West. They were thirty miles from a railroad and in some directions it was twelve miles to the nearest neighbor. After farming in that State until November, 1866, Mr. Bassett removed his family to Fayette County, Iowa, locating in Putnam Township. The only building upon the farm was a dilapidated log cabin and into this they moved. At one time a doctor remained with them over night and before morning dawned it had rained heavily. The doctor made no complaints but Mrs. Bassett found that his bed was very wet as the roof had leaked. Some time after, he again came to their home and when asked to remain, looking up to the sky, said 'I guess I will stop with you tonight as I don't think it will rain.' Such a house was the first home of Mr. and Mrs. Bassett in this county. He purchased one hundred and twenty acres of land and now has a richly cultivated farm of two hundred and sixty acres, and in addition operates one hundred and sixty acres of rented land. He engages in general farming and sheep-raising, having one hundred head of sheep, also good grades of horses and cattle. He makes a specialty of fancy poultry, geese and ducks, and the barns and building for the care of his stock and fowls are models of convenience. Hardly an improvement for this farm could be suggested for it seems complete in all its appointments and indicates the manager to be thrifty and painstaking.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bassett have been born five children: Edwin J., who married Emma Tucker and lives at home; Lewis H. wedded Emma C. Miller and is also on the old farm; Charles H. is living near Strawberry Point; Mrs. Clara A. Platt of Clayton County; and John is at home. He was born in this county but the older children are natives of Illinois. They have been reared to habits of industry and economy, received good educational advantages and are worthy citizens. The parents are members of the Congregational Church of Strawberry Point. At the age of seventeen Mr. Bassett was made a Deacon and at twenty-seven years of age became an Elder. He and his wife were charter members of the church to which they now belong and have lived consistent Christian lives. At an early age he joined the Washingtonian Temperance Society and has since been a stalwart supporter of temperance principles, having during the campaign preceding the vote on the prohibitory amendment labored untiringly for its interests. He has served as Assessor and Justice of the Peace for three or four terms. He cast his first Presidential vote for Van Buren, supported Fremont in 1856, and has since been a stanch Republican. He believes it the duty of every American citizen to cast a fair ballot expressing his views and each election day finds him at the polls. Held in high esteem by all who know him, Mr. Bassett well deserves a representation in this volume.




back to Fayette 1891 Biography Index

back to Fayette Biography Directory

back to Fayette County home