While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Brian Hart

BASS, THOMAS COKE (ca. 1830–1878). 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).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Brian Hart, "BASS, THOMAS COKE," accessed July 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbaac.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...