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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead


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August 14, 2014

August 2014

 

As a child, I remember visiting the Bassett Public Library to check out books, bags at a time, to participate in the summer reading program.  I enjoyed standing on the two-step wooden stool which was located in front of the circulation desk so that I could carefully sign each card with Mrs. Shirley Bassett on the other side smiling and waiting patiently while I did so.

One of my most memorable trips to the library came in 1981 when I was in the fourth grade at Campbell Court Elementary School.  It began like this:  Every fourth grade student in Henry County was given a booklet entitled "A Proud Look Back" published in 1975 by the First National Bank of Bassett.  The booklet contained articles written by local historians that were first published in local newspapers to illustrate the importance of the role that Henry County played in the development of our nation.  After Mrs. Charlotte Bishop passed out a booklet to each student in our class, she allowed us a few minutes to investigate while she explained to us what exactly we were viewing.  As I began looking through the booklet, I discovered a partial list of the names of soldiers from surrounding counties that participated in the Revolutionary War.  My eyes quickly focused on the name Daniel Ross, Lt. in the Militia.  Immediately my curiosity had the best of me and I wanted to know if this man, whoever he was, was related to me.  Until that moment, family, for me, consisted of only the people who I lived with or saw on holidays or dined with around the Sunday table.

That night at the dinner table I asked Dad to tell me about Daniel Ross.  He had a puzzled look on his face so I eagerly showed him the booklet that I had been given at school.  I turned to the page in the booklet that had Daniel's name.  Mom, who had started working part time at the library, quickly told us where we could find out and who we should see.  So Dad and I went to visit Mrs. Bassett at the library that following Saturday because at that point Dad shared my excitement and enthusiasm.  We both followed Mrs. Bassett downstairs to the basement to the "Genealogy Department" which consisted of one dark poorly lit room lined with two walls of books and notebooks that in total covered about ten shelves.  After our first visit we were well on our way to tracing our family tree.  This led to meeting Archie Ross, who lived in Fieldale, and visiting the Ross-Harbour Cemetery in Elamsville where we took pictures of the tombstones as well as made several tombstone etchings.  Both Dad and I were hooked as we were able to trace the Ross line back to when three brothers came over from Scotland on a ship - one who began the Ross line of which my family is a part.  Let's just say or so I thought!  This is where one has to be extremely careful when working in genealogy.  Lots of family histories are passed down by "word of mouth" strories through generations that include information that may not have been documented.  So it seems that most family histories tend to begin with three or more brothers coming to America on a ship!

According to the book entitled "The Ross Family: Beginning in 1734 in Hanover County, Virginia" written by Ross Chappell published in 2005, my family (the Ross side that is) descends from John Ross who was part of a Jacobite movement in Scotland in the early 1700's.  To make a long story short, he was one of many who was imprisoned in a church and then transported to Maryland aboard a ship.  Well, there is my "ship" that I learned about in fourth grade!  John Ross was sold as an indentured servant to a man who died before he was listed in the inventory of the man's estate.  Because of the documentation found, John Ross was more than likely released from servitude rather than having run away.  He married a woman named Sarah whose maiden name is uncertain and they lived in Hanover County, Virginia.

I have spent many an hour here at the library, now the Bassett Historical Center, volunteering during summers with Martha Jane Clark and my mom, Pat Ross.  It seems a bit surreal that now I am sitting behind a desk here at the Historical Center, now as an employee working with Mom.  A person might not know where they will end up in life, but a person can surely find out where they came from here at the Bassett Historical Center!

 

Fran Snead










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