Bass, Thomas Coke (ca. 1830–1878)

By: Brian Hart

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

Thomas Coke Bass, attorney and Confederate cavalry officer, was born about 1830 in Mississippi. He was admitted to the Mississippi bar about 1858 and moved to Sherman, Texas, where he established a practice specializing in land law. With the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860, Bass became an outspoken advocate of secession. He is credited with raising the first Confederate flag over the Grayson County Courthouse. With the onset of the Civil War, he raised a cavalry regiment in Grayson and Cooke counties and in June 1862 was commissioned a colonel in the Twentieth Texas Cavalry. In this position he saw action in Texas and Indian Territory and commanded the force that captured Fort Washita. In addition, his cavalry unit participated in the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, on December 7, 1862. Bass spent the remainder of the war defending Indian Territory. After the war he returned to his law practice in Sherman. In addition to this business, he published a newspaper, the Sherman Courier, for a short time in 1866. He married Ada Dalton Hocker on July 10, 1867. The couple had two sons and a daughter.

As a land agent Bass developed a system to verify land claims, which he published as Best System of Abstract. He advertised the pamphlet, which explained his system and listed the legally available lands in Grayson, Denton, Collin, Cooke, and Fannin counties, in numerous national publications. This system and his advertisement of it apparently brought him considerable business. He gained local notoriety in 1874 when he purchased the decrepit, twenty-five-year-old Grayson County Courthouse, had it leveled, and sold the bricks for use in chimneys. In 1878 he responded to an appeal from Memphis, Tennessee, for aid in combating a devastating yellow fever epidemic. Bass and a companion, Dr. T. J. Heady, contracted the disease upon their arrival in Memphis, and Bass died there on September 22, 1878.

Grayson County Frontier Village, History of Grayson County, Texas (2 vols., Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Hunter, 1979, 1981).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Land Law and Real Estate Law
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Historians
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  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Reconstruction

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

Brian Hart, “Bass, Thomas Coke,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

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