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BASCOM, TX

BASCOM, TEXAS. Bascom is at the junction of State Highway 64 and Farm Road 848, a mile east of Tyler in central Smith County. The Texas State Quail Farm is located just to the south. The area was the site of a spring at the crossing of Indian trails and was settled as early as 1846, when William McAdams built one of the first gristmills in the county. John Pinkerton was buried in the Bascom Methodist Church cemetery the following year, when the Chancellor family owned most of the local land. In 1849 workers at the mill helped build the nearby Tyler-Henderson road. In 1856 a Bascom post office opened with Suzannah W. Smith as postmistress; the office closed after six months. The community was apparently named for Bishop Henry Biddleman Bascom of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1857 Jesse Cook deeded two acres to the community for a Methodist church; Rev. Caleb H. Smith was the first pastor. Bascom also had a doctor, Lazaira W. Smith, and a corn mill owned and operated by Rice Knowles. A Bascom school had opened by 1860, with classes taught by Dr. Smith and George A. Martin. Harmony Baptist Church was also established that year, when William R. Griffen donated seven acres for the church and a cemetery, later called Bascom Cemetery East; Griffen later gave another acre that became Bascom Cemetery West. In 1869 Walter Funderburgh bought the mill and added a cotton gin upstairs. By 1872 the school had a one-room wooden building in which students sat on plank benches. The average enrollment was twelve, and the school was moved at least three times.

In 1894 the third Methodist church building was completed. The following year the mill exploded, killing owner John Speer and ending a vital business in Bascom. The structure was never rebuilt; a few years later the ruins were completely destroyed by fire. A new post office opened in 1899 with James B. Taylor as postmaster, but mail service was moved to Tyler in 1901. In 1900 local voters established Bascom School District No. 32 and built a new white two-story school with tax and bond revenues. The one-teacher school enrolled twenty-six pupils in 1903; in 1907 the Chitwood school district was consolidated with Bascom. School enrollment in 1911 was approximately sixty-three, and the system employed two teachers. In 1921 the Macedonia school district was also consolidated with Bascom.

During the 1920s farming declined in the area, and many of the young people moved to Tyler. Horace Crawford Alfred opened a general store at which customers paid bills in cash or eggs on a monthly basis. The school system continued to succeed. By 1936 one local school had six teachers and 170 white elementary students, and another school had one teacher and twenty-three black elementary students. That same year the community had a church and two cemeteries. In 1941 citizens voted to merge with the Murph (later Sharon) Independent School District, and in 1945 Bascom became part of the Chapel Hill Independent School District.

In the 1970s Bascom had Methodist and Assembly of God churches. Traffic passed through the community on the road to Lake Tyler. Most residents worked at the nearby General Electric plant or in Tyler. Maps showed a church and a collection of farms at the site. In the 1980s Bascom had about fifteen businesses and numerous residences.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Edward Clayton Curry, An Administrative Survey of the Schools of Smith County, Texas (M.Ed. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Andrew Leath, "Bascom, Texas: Typical Texana," Chronicles of Smith County, Summer 1974. "Post Offices and Postmasters of Smith County, Texas: 1847–1929," Chronicles of Smith County, Spring 1966. "School Sights," Chronicles of Smith County, Fall 1969. Smith County Historical Society, Historical Atlas of Smith County (Tyler, Texas: Tyler Print Shop, 1965). Donald W. Whisenhunt, comp., Chronological History of Smith County (Tyler, Texas: Smith County Historical Society, 1983).

Vista K. McCroskey

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Vista K. McCroskey, "BASCOM, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrb75), accessed April 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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