Rebecca Ann Patillo Bass Adams, pioneer, daughter of Hamblin Bass and Elizabeth (Saunders) Harris Bass, was born on December 11, 1826, in Hancock County, Georgia. Hamblin Bass owned a plantation near the Oconee River. Rebecca attended Eatonton Female Seminary in Eatonton, Georgia. According to her correspondence at the time, she probably studied a variety of subjects including history, chemistry, geography, and Greek literature. She was also an accomplished pianist. On January 15, 1845, she married Robert Adams, the son of a planter who lived nearby. After the couple's first child was born in 1846, Robert left Rebecca and their son with her parents and went to Philadelphia to begin studying to become a physician; in 1848 he completed his education at South Carolina Medical College, Charleston. After living in Eatonton for about ten years, the Adams family decided to move to Texas to join Hamblin Bass, who had bought the famous Waldeck Plantation near the site of present East Columbia. Leaving behind a plantation, a medical practice, and a real estate business, in December 1859 the Adamses packed up their six children, fifty slaves, and seven hounds and started the long journey to Texas. They were delayed in Mobile, Alabama, when Rebecca had her seventh child. Hamblin Bass traveled by boat to Mobile, picked up the couple's two sons, the slaves, and the wagons, and took them overland to Texas. When Rebecca recovered, she and the other members of the family traveled by ship from Mobile to Galveston and then overland to Waldeck. She and her family lived there with Hamblin Bass for about a year until they bought the Huckaby Plantation, in Freestone County near Fairfield. In December 1860 they moved into their first log house. During the Civil War, Dr. Adams and his eldest son, Robert, served in the Confederate Army. The two men were stationed in various camps in Texas and were able to make frequent trips home. The task of running the plantation, however, fell to Rebecca, and she endured great hardship as she managed the extensive property, bore another child, cared for fifty slaves, and nursed the slaves as well as her children through many bouts with life-threatening illness, including smallpox.
After the war ended, the Adams family moved to Houston. Rebecca became ill, and she and the children moved to Waldeck for a short time. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and the family moved back to Freestone County. On October 5, 1867, Rebecca died of tuberculosis. She was buried in Fairfield, Texas. She had borne eleven children. During her life she had saved hundreds of family letters, many of which were edited and published by her granddaughter, Gary Doyle Woods, in a book entitled The Hicks-Adams-Bass-Floyd-Patillo and Collateral Lines, Together with Family Letters, 1840–1868. This book is a valuable resource for information on plantation life in Texas. Rebecca Adams meticulously saved records of plantation parties, social programs, and inventories of goods. Her letters after her family arrived in Texas revealed the economics of the area as well as the daily happenings of life. They give insight into that era's expectations of husbands for their wives regarding motherhood. Robert Adams, for example, expected a large family, and in one letter to Rebecca after the birth of another child, her sister-in-law offered to "sympathize with and congratulate" her on the new birth.
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Jo Ella Powell Exley, ed., Texas Tears and Texas Sunshine: Voices of Frontier Women (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1985). Freestone County Historical Commission, History of Freestone County, Texas (Fairfield, Texas, 1978). Elizabeth Silverthorne, Plantation Life in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Abner J. Strobel, The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County (Houston, 1926; rev. ed., Houston: Bowman and Ross, 1930; rpt., Austin: Shelby, 1980).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Jo Ella Powell Exley,
“Adams, Rebecca Ann Patillo Bass,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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