Judge Elisha Bourne BassettJudge Elisha Bourne Bassett (most generally called E B Bassett in the records) was born 6 August 1822 in Lee, Massachusetts to Nathan and Maria (Howk) Bassett.  He attended Williams College in 1842, settling in Allegan in 1843.[1]

From 1845 to 1846, Judge Bassett served as Allegan Township Clerk.  He was admitted to the Bar in 1849 and elected as Township Supervisor in 1853.[2]  When Judge Elisha Ely died in office in 1854 (nearly 2 years into a 4-year term), Judge Bassett, was appointed to finish Ely’s term as Allegan County Probate Court Judge.  He served in that office from December 1854 to 1 January 1857.[3]

In religion, Judge Bassett was a Mason, holding the title of First Worshipful Master of Allegan Lodge #111 from 1859-1861, and a member of the Allegan Presbyterian Church early on [4], and later of the Episcopalian Church.[5]

Judge Elisha B Bassett military recordOn 22 July 1862, Judge Bassett enlisted in the 19th Michigan Infantry, Company B, and was promoted to the rank of Captain just 6 days later.[6]  Judge Bassett’s company logged just two campaigns in the war, the being the Battle of  Thompson’s Station (TN) on 5 March 1863, in which 113 of the company’s 512 soldiers perished.  His commanding colonel reported:

“[Captain Bassett] deserted his company… in a most disgraceful and cowardly manner.”

On 25 March 1863, he surrendered himself to the Confederate Army and was then held at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, where he contracted consumption (a fatal form of tuberculosis).  He was released in June of that year and immediately arrested and returned to Allegan with a dishonorable discharge for his conduct at Thompson’s Station.[7]

Despite his failure as a soldier, Judge Bassett was respected for his character and achievements in local politics.  In 1864, he was elected Mayor of Allegan, the last political office of his career.[8]  He survived the war, but died soon after on 25 November 1865 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Allegan, Michigan.[9]

His obituary reads:

Judge Elisha Boune Bassett headstoneOur much esteemed fellow-citizen, Hon. Elisha B. Bassett, died on Saturday, at 5 o’clock AM.  He had been in poor health for about a year and a half.  Judge B was one of our most benevolent, enterprising, and public-spirited citizens.  He had served for several terms as a member and Chairman of our County Board of Supervisors and had held several County Offices, among others Judge of Probate.  Judge B was a fine classical scholar and graduated Williams College.  He edited the Allegan “Record” – a newspaper sheet formally issued in this Village – and under Judge B’s management that journal was an able and entertaining reflex of current events.  Judge B was a member of the legal profession and was one of its brightest ornaments in Allegan County, and we may say in Western Michigan.  The deceased was a Native of Berkshire Co., Mass., and 43 years of age.  He was an old citizen of Allegan County – having taken up his residence here in 1843. He leaves a wife and five children to lament his untimely decease.  One of his daughters is the wife of Hon. Dan J Arnold, Judge of Probate.  Judge B lost two brothers in the Union Army, one of whom was the lamented Col. C J Bassett of the 1st Louisiana U.S. Colored Troops, who fell gloriously upholding the flag of his country in the Red River Expedition.  Deceased was a member of the Episcopalian Church. The deceased will be buried with the usual Masonic honors and all members of the fraternity are invited to9 attend.  His funeral will take place this (Monday) at 1 o’clock PM.[10]


  1. Ryan J. Powers, The Life and Times of Worshipful Master Elisha Bourne Bassett (27 May 2011), 5-7.
  2. Ibid.
  3. History of Allegan and Barry Counties, Michigan (Philadelphia: W. D. Ensign & Co, 1880); Mary B Lucas, in Powers, Worshipful Master, op. cit., 5.
  4. Powers, Worshipful Master, op. cit.
  5. “Judge Bassett is Dead,” Allegan Journal (Nov 1865).
  6. s.v. Capt. Elisha Bourne BassettFindagrave.com.
  7. Powers, Worshipful Master, op. cit., 5-7, 10.
  8. Ibid., 5, 10.
  9. s.v. Capt. Elisha Bourne BassettFindagrave.com.
  10. “Judge Bassett is Dead,” Allegan Journal (Nov 1865).

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