52 Ancestors: #44 William Bassett and Bridgewater

William Basset/Bassett* 1667 to 1735

Bridgewater MAWhen Plymouth became too crowded–which was almost immediately in the eyes of the early Pilgrims–the settlers started spreading out to found other communities. Bridgewater, Massachusetts (and East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater) is typical of the way those early towns came into existence.

At first new arrivals eagerly pushed inland and started new communities, sometimes creating a new town cheek by jowl with the old. But some of the descendents of the first arrivals were content to stay put.  This William Basset (1667-1735), my 7th great grand-father of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, was a stay-put kind of guy. And a marrying kind, too!

We all know that the first boatload of Pilgrims arrived in 1620 and founded Plymouth.  Amazingly, in the next ten years thirty-six more small communities were formed in what became the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The royal charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 really opened the floodgates of immigration.

In 1630, a fleet of eleven ships with 700 passengers set out and landed in Salem (which had been founded in 1626) and moved on to Boston, incorporated in 1630. And that was just the beginning.  The next ten years saw twenty thousand immigrants arrive in Massachusetts.

In a later article, I will go into more detail about the life of the “original comer” William Bassett, but now, regarding his grandson William, I just want to point out that the first William moved from Plymouth to Duxbury, and then was one of 54 men given the right in 1645 to purchase land in what was to become the neighboring town of Bridgewater. There most of his children and some of his grandchildren would live out their lives.

The younger William grew up on his father Joseph’s property, next door to his grandfather William, the “original comer”, who was the village blacksmith and gunsmith.


Massasoit, Wampanoag Sachem, in 1621 smoking peace pipe with Pilgrims at Plymouth.

In 1645, Miles Standish, John Alden and 4 others were commissioned to divide an 8-mile-square piece of land, known as Satucket–or Sautucket, or Shumatuscacant  (Massachusetts– the land along the river of the same name. The six men were to divide the wooded land equally among the 54 plus the minister from Scotland, Rev. James Keith, and Deacon Samuel Edson.  Miles Standish stood in for the group in dealing with the Indian Sachem Ousanequin (better known in your history book as Massasoit) who set his mark on the agreement.

The price of the land was enumerated as

  • 7 coats, a yard and half in a coat
  • 9 hatchets
  • 8 hoes
  • 20 knives
  • 4 moose skins
  • 10 yards and a half of cotton

Having recently visited the area surrounding Boston where homes on less than an acre of land routinely sell for one million dollars, I would say that Standish got a pretty good deal for their 8 square miles.  Too bad my ancestors did not deed some of their property to their distant kin.

Bridgewater parsonage

The parsonage of Rev. James Keith, the first preacher at Bridgewater, who came from Scotland.

This town of Bridgewater, twenty miles from Plymouth and 26 miles from Boston, would be the home of first-comer William Bassett, his son Joseph and Joseph’s son William. This William lived his entire life in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, a community first settled by his grandfather, the first William Bassett in America, and one of  only two of the “original comers”  to found Bridgewater.

Although I don’t know what William did–beyond farming, which is the assumed occupation for men in that era–I do know what he did not do. According to historic records, he was not involved in government, apparently never holding office in town or church.

Indian Raid on a Puritan Village

Indian Raid on a Puritan Village

He was only eight years old when King Philip’s War affected Bridgewater, so he was not a soldier in that war, but it must have been terrifying for a youngster.  In 1675, citizens were urged to leave their homes and “repair to towns by the seaside,” but the people of Bridgewater opted to stay and erect a garrison and fortify several homes.  In the following year, Indians burned several homes in the eastern part of the town in April, and in May, a force of 300 Indians burned thirteen houses and four barns.  The fortifications and the defense of local men prevented any deaths.

When William was 26 years old, he married Sarah Swetland (Sweetland). She was nineteen.  A year later, 1694, their first son, William L. Bassett was born. As was usual in these families, other children followed regularly.

  • 1695: Joseph
  • 1700: Ruth (Davis)
  • 1702: Nathan

In April 1703, Sarah died, perhaps of complications of childbirth. She was only 29 years old.

Early death, sadly, is not surprising in this age, nor is remarriage.  I was, however, surprised that William married his second wife only two months after Sarah died. He and his new wife, Mary Bump (or Bumpus) observed another custom of the time that seems a bit creepy to me. They named their first-born daughter for the recently deceased Sarah.

William and Mary B. had five children in the next ten years:

  • 1704: Sarah
  • 1706: Elizabeth
  • 1710: Thankful
  • 1712: Benjamin
  • 1713: Seth

When Mary B. died about 1718, she would have been about 35, and left behind five children 14 or younger, plus her older stepchildren.

William Basset married again. No surprise, there–he needed someone to look after those kids. But his choice in wives continues to reflect a bigger age difference each time. He was seven years older than his first wife,16 years older than his second wife and 24 years older than his third, Mary Mahurin (28).  They married in February 1718, when he was 52 years old.

His oldest son, William L., married for the first time the same year– the following month– that his father married for the third time. Joseph (22) stayed at home for a few more years.

William Basset/Bassett died in 1735 at the age of 68. I have not found a record of Mary’s death or possible remarriage. And although there is a whole book of inscriptions on gravestones in the various Bridgewater cemeteries, many early residents are nowhere to be found.  Even many buried after 1740 were in graves with plain stones with no carving, or the stones have been carried away. So although it is a sure thing that William Bassett lies in one of those cemeteries, he left no trace.

*Although the name is generally spelled with two “t”s at the end, several references to this William use only one “t”. The Puritans did not consider spelling accurately to be a necessary godly skill.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett the son of
  • Samuel Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, Jr., the son of
  • William L. Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, the grandson of
  • William Bassett, the Pilgrim father

Research Notes

DAR research done by my grandmother in the 30s or 40s revealed her connection to William Bassett, the First Comer.
Nahum Mitchell, History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family Register(Boston: Printed for the author by Kidder and Wright, 1840; repr. Bridgewater: Henry T. Pratt, 1897; Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1970; Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1983; Salem, MA: Higginson Books, 1992). Available on line at http://plymouthcolony.net/bridgewater/mitchell/contents.html

Williams Latham, Epitaphs in Old Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Illustrated with Plans and Views (Bridgewater: Henry T. Pratt, printer, 1882; repr. Middleborough, MA: Plymouth County Chapter, Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, 1976; Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, n.d.; Pittsfield, MA: Berkshire Family History Association, Inc., 2001). Available on line at  http://plymouthcolony.net/bridgewater/latham/contents.html

I also have checked ancestry.com for birth, death and marriage records from Masssachusetts Colony. And GenForum discussions of the Bassett lines.


From the Wayside Inn: Maple-Bourbon Pork Roast Recipe

Longfellow's Wayside InnWhen we visited Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury Massachusetts recently for a mini-family reunion and to learn more about the Howe family who built the Inn–my brother picked up a copy of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Cookbook.

The book, like the Inn’s kitchen, makes no attempt to recreate the Howe Tavern food of the 18th and 19th century, but rather focuses on the more modern cuisine that draws crowds to the several dining rooms at today’s Wayside Inn.

Wayside Inn Old Kitchen Dining Room

The Old Kitchen at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Dining hearthside.

While we were there, we ate in the Main dining room, the small dining room, the Inn Keeper’s Room, and others. My favorite of all the dining spaces was “the Old Kitchen.” There you can sit near the fire and contemplate the labor involved in cooking over the open hearth.  This contraption was meant to be wound up and then as it slowly unwound, it would turn a roast on a spit.  The Inn has had to remove the handle because kids (and adults, too, we suspect) had a tendency to play with it.


Wayside Inn Old Kitchn Dining Room

The Old Kitchen Roast Turner

When my brother’s family delved into their new cookbook, and chose a roast pork recipe, they did not roast their pork over the hearth using a roast turner. But that might be a possibility.  Since the recipe is copyrighted, we give you his notes. Consult your own, or your library’s copy for the entire instructions for making Pork with Maple-Bourbon Glaze.

Contributed by P.W. Kaser

Drunken PigHere are  some personal notes  on the Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Cookbook‘s roast pork recipe which is a version of what we call out here in the West “Drunken Pig.”

Maple-Bourbon Pork Glaze for the roast pork recipe requires 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, one tablespoon of Vermont Maple syrup, one teaspoon of maple extract, a stingy one fourth cup of Bourbon, and one tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in cold water.

(Set enough Bourbon aside so guests can use it to toast the cook.)

Sugar and water are mixed and brought to a boil. Cornstarch is added for thickener and cooked for a few minutes. Maple syrup, maple extract, and bourbon are stirred in.

(Watch carefully not to overcook unless you want to have strange candy form in your pot.)

It is best for the cook not to consume excess mix while cooking the pork but to baste the roast judiciously and soberly as it is roasted. We used a two pound roast and it came out golden brown and delicious.

pork roast

Notes and Speculations: I don’t know why in the  book, Vermont maple syrup is specified. Perhaps it’s just regional loyalty. As instructed we “gilded the lily” by adding maple flavoring extract to the real maple syrup. I can’t see that this would make much difference.

And why is the whiskey not identified as Kentucky bourbon? I haven’t seen any record of Bourbon being commonly quaffed in the Inn’s early decades, and as a broadly distributed commercial product it doesn’t seem to have achieved fame as a uniquely Kentucky delight until the mid-to-late 19th century, but the book claims to present a blend of new and old so maple-Bourbon pork may serve as an example of the best of both eras.

52 Ancestors: Descended from Pilgrim: Two William Bassetts, #42 and #43

William L. Bassett 1694- 1782

William Bassett Tombstone

Gravestone William Bassett 1726-1776, Norton Center Cemetery, MA. Photo by Scott Holman.

Unlike the next William’s short life, William L. Bassett lived ninety years. He took three wives along the way, making me speculate that the “L” stands for “lusty.” If the dates are correct, he had an interesting third marriage, indeed.

First Marriage and Losses

On March 18, 1718, when they were 24, William Bassett of Norton married his first wife, Mary Crosman of Taunton. Mary’s next 19 years was full of woe.

Their first son Gideon, born in October 1719, lived to adulthood, as did William, Jr. (as you will see below). But three other children died in infancy or childhood–Sarah at birth in 1721. Ruth died at ten years old in 1733, and Solomon died at five years of age in 1735. Their may have been other stillborn children, as there is a 3-year gap between Ruth and William, and a 4-year gap between William and Solomon.

A Younger Bride

Mary died in July, 1737 and William married Thankful Briggs  the next month.  Clearly, he was a man who needed to have a woman around, and preferably a younger one. He was 43 and Thankful was 21.  Without pausing to mourn Mary, William fathered two more children: Jotham in 1738 and Abigail in 1741. Both lived to adulthood, but not much more.  Joatham died at 23 and Abigail was 37 when she passed away.

A Child Bride

After ten years of marriage, Thankful died in 1747.  Once again, William did not let any grass grow under his feet. He had a six-year-old and nine-year-old that needed tending to. That summer he married Penelope Brintal.  According to “Norton Vital Records”, Penelope was born July 28, 1732, which means that she was 15 and he was 53 when they married. What did Gideon (28) and William Jr. (21) think of their father’s marriage? All I know is that William Jr. married the following year. In a hurry to get out of the house?

I have not found a record to tell me how long Penelope lived, and have seen no record of any more children. However, Lusty William lived to the ripe old age of 90.

William Bassett Jr. (1726-1776)

As we have seen above, of William Bassett Jr.’s siblings, 3 of 5 “dyed” according to Massachusetts Town Records at birth or in childhood. He later had two half-siblings by his father’s 2nd marriage.

WHEW! Thank goodness William Bassett Jr., born June 5, 1726, lived to marry Lydia Fisher and become my 5th Great-Grandfather, or else where would I be?

Lydia and William Jr. married in 1748 and had eleven children in the twenty-nine years before his death.  Lydia and William, Jr. were much more fortunate than William’s parents. I believe that one of these children, Mary (b. 1761), died as an infant, but ten survived to marry.

William and Lydia’s Children:

  • William (1749)
  • Jedidiah (1751)
  • Samuel (1754)
  • Isaac (1755)
  • Lydia (1757) [Newcomb]
  • Massa (1759)
  • Mary (1761)
  • David (1763)
  • James (1765)
  • Sela (1767) [Wetherill]
  • Nathan (1769)

Four Brothers Fight for Independence

Fourth in their brood was Samuel Bassett, the Revolutionary War Fifer whom I wrote about previously.  During the war, mother Lydia must have been fretting because the men folk, including teen-aged Massa, signed up to fight. Jedidiah, Samuel, Isaac and Massa all served in the Continental Army.I am mystified as to why this generation’s William–(born 1749) did not fight.  I cannot find any information about his wife, Anne Lane, or whether they had children.  A couple of sources say he died in 1838, but otherwise, he is a mystery.

Tragically, Massa died at seventeen years old at the Battle of White Plains, New York, according to a descendent’s records on Ancestry.com. And Lydia’s husband, William, died two months later without seeing what his brave family had helped accomplish.

An interesting note from a Bassett family history*, suggests that the father, William Jr., also served in the war, but apparently he did not die in battle.  He died soon after the war began, however, in 1776,  at age 50 in Norton, Massachusetts, where he had spent his life. In fact, his father outlived him by many years.


*Buell Burdett Bassette, “One Bassett Family in America” (Springfield, Mass, The F. A. Bassette Co., 1926) p. 20; PDF digital document

“1776, Dec. 13. G S R: William Bassett Jun’r dies at fifty, before his father, at Norton. He died intestate in these early days of the war. A stone three feet high marks his grave in the Centre Cemetery at Norton, in the same lot as his father, third lot from the entrance.”

“The Revolutionary War was raging. That William had had a short service in this war is vouched for by the careful historian John McIlvene.”

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett the son of
  • Samuel Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, Jr., the son of
  • William L. Bassett, great-grandson of
  • William Bassett, the Pilgrim father