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 William Peter Bass

William Peter Bass

Gibson County, Indiana, USA
Death 27 Mar 1884 (aged 43)
Faulk County, South Dakota, USA
Burial Faulkton, Faulk County, South Dakota, USA
Memorial ID 100641900 · View Source
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The Faulkton Times, April 3, 1884, Faulkton, Dakota;

In the War of the Rebellion he served as a faithful soldier in Company F., 3rd Iowa infantry, and at its close was honorably discharged and he returned to his home in Fayette County, Iowa.


Bass, William. Age 23. Residence Fayette, nativity Indiana. Enlisted Jan. 4, 1864. Mustered Jan. 25, 1864. Recruit. See company F, Second and Third Consolidated.
On July 28th, 1864 the official reports show that it was again in action with
the Thirteenth Iowa Infantry commanded by Col. John Shane. The few survivors were
subsequently consolidated within the Second Iowa Infantry, and the gallant Third ceased to exist
as a distinct military organization. With the Second Iowa they marched with Sherman to the Sea,
thence to Washington where they participated in the grand review and were then ordered to
Louisville, Ky. There, on the 12th of July, 1865-over four years from the date of their muster in
at Keokuk—they were mustered out, and the record of their heroic service was ended.
Few of these gallant men remain to peruse this record, but the children of those who made it,
and their posterity, so long as heroic and patriotic deeds are cherished and revered among men,
will read the story of their bravery, fortitude and great achievements, and thank God that they
can trace their lineage to the men who, from 1861 to 1865, confronted the storm of the rebellions
and saved the United States of America from disruption and destruction.


Total Enrollment 1109

Killed 76

Wounded 370

Died of wounds 30

Died of disease 109

Discharged for disease, wounds and other causes 270

Buried in National Cemeteries 81

Captured 116

Transferred 24



He was the first soldier to die in Faulk County and be buried in its soil.

He was confined to his bed for many weeks and suffered much in his final illness from chronic catarrh, lung disease, neuralgia and eye trouble. Many of these disabilities were the result of exposure while in service.


The Faulkton Times, June 4, 1885, Faulkton, Dakota:

Memorial Day, 1885- Quite a company of people gathered at the Harrington school house at 9 o'clock A. M. and rode in procession to the cemetery to decorate the grave of William Bass, the only soldier's grave in Faulk County.

The exercise consisted of singing, prayers, decorating of the grave with beautiful wreaths. crosses and bouquets, an impressive address by Frank Turner, Esq., an essay by Lou Hopwood, remarks by Rev. Clinton Douglas and the closing song of "America"


From 1884 until 1889,the grave of William Bass was appropriately decorated in honor of his service to his county. Then gradually the enthusiasm waned and finally his existence faded from memory- no more prayers, no more flowers, no more speeches. The grass grew tall, dirt sifted around his fallen Civil War marker, the winds blew and rains were interspersed with periods of drought. Prairie fires scorched the earth, winter blizzards raged and machinery gouged the monument but William Bass's remains were safe from these surface hazards for more than 109 years in the Harrington cemetery, later known as the Burkmere cemetery.

-Irene Cordts


He was dis-interred from his forgotten pioneer grave at Burkmere and placed in the Faulkton cemetery in Soldier's Circle in 1993 thanks to local historian/researcher Irene Cordts.

The damage to the right side of his tombstone was done by agricultural equipment when his fallen stone was discovered in a field.


Gibson, Indiana, United States

1850 Age: 9
District 21, Iroquois, Illinois

Thomas R Bass 37
Polly A Bass 31
William Bass 9
Thomas J Bass 7
Ciron (sic) A Bass 6
John W Bass 3
Sarah E Bass 1

All enumerated as mulatto.


1860 Age: 20
Westfield, Fayette, Iowa, United States

Thos R Bass 45
Mary A Bass 41
Wm Bass 20
Thos I Bass 16
Siam (sic) A Bass 14
John W Bass 13
Elizabeth Bass 10
George H Bass 8
Benjaman Bass 7
Mary J Bass 5
Jacob H Bass 3
Simeon Bass 2

All mulatto


1880 Age: 40
Atchison City, Atchison, Kansas, United States

Age: 39; Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Self

William Bass 39
Martha Bass 37
Pauline Bass 17
Irene Bass 9
Delila Bass 5
Sophia E. Bass 4m

All mulatto.

NOTE- I point out the race enumeration on the above censuses
only to note his widow and surviving children all identify as white in 1900 and thereafter.


Married to Martha M. Lewis June 17, 1861 by Andrew Wheatley, Justice of the Peace of Westfield Township, Fayette County, Iowa.

They had 9 children of whom 4 preceded their father in death.

The probate record of May 8, 1884 lists his heirs, beside his wife we have:

Polina L., 21

Irene M., 13

Mary Delila, 10

Sophia E., 4

Lola, 2 mos.

NOTE- She was born just about the time her father died in March.


POSTSCRIPT- Evidently he passed as white; he enlisted at Keokuk, about as far away from his home county and as close to the action as he could get, perhaps so no one would know him as a mulatto from the Fayette County settlement. He also obeyed the law as he enlisted after the Emancipation Proclamation was official; men of color were disallowed entry into military service before then. But he did not enlist in a "colored regiment", white men were paid better and did not have expenses deducted from their pay as the black military initially did.


"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship." Frederick Douglass

Family Members



Co. F
3rd Iowa Infantry




  • Created by: Kent Gebhard
  • Added: 13 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100641900
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Peter Bass (15 Nov 1840–27 Mar 1884), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100641900, citing Faulkton Cemetery, Faulkton, Faulk County, South Dakota, USA ; Maintained by Kent Gebhard (contributor 47001358) .