Augustus A. Bass, Nansamond

Nansemond Tribe

The largest group of descendants of the more southerly Powhatan tribes is that which comprises the Nansemond. They reside at Portsmouth, Bowers Hill, near Suffolk, and in general about Dismal Swamp. Their name has hardly disappeared from the pages of history for more than a few years at a time. Captain John Smith gave them a place of prominence in his narrative, and a number of entries since his day in literature connect them closely with the past. In the last century they have lapsed in numbers and strength through mixture and dispersion, yet the number of those considered as Nansemond descendants must be about 200, according to J. L. Bass, their present chief. From William W. Weaver and Mr. Bass in 1907 Mooney recorded some information which he published. 1 He noted that the men were mostly engaged in truck-farming and as sailors and that they numbered about 180. According to most recent information, in March 1923, the descendants organized a Nansemond Indian Association with 58 enrolled members to cooperate with the other organized bodies of Indians in the state. Their principal family names are Bass (fig. 37) and Weaver, from whom are descended others: Bateman, Bond, Brady, Bright, Cable, Collins, Craigins, Gaylord, Gray, Green, Harmon, Holloway, Howard, Jones, Okay, Osborn, Porter, Price, Rowland, Sawyer, Scott, Sebastian, Simcoe, White, Wilkins, and Williams.

Augustus A. Bass, Nansamond
Fig. 37 – Augustus A. Bass, Nansemond

I might add that a detailed study of the Nansemond Tribe History is to be awaited with some interest. Until this is made one can only entertain a suspicion of the likelihood of some ethnological divergence from the Pamunkey and Mattaponi pattern, since the Nansemond are on the border of the North Carolina coast Algonquian sub-area.

It may not be out of place to note that among the ethnological survivals here to be investigated the Nansemond preserve interesting information on bear-hunting, which is still pursued in Dismal Swamp, and wolf-trapping, of which tradition has something to reveal. They also offer the usual amount of surviving agricultural lore, and some other topics under material culture, connected with hunting, fishing, and the use of dugout canoes. The latter are still to be found in their possession.

Speck, Frank Gouldsmith. Chapters on the ethnology of the Powhatan tribes of Virginia. Indian Notes and Monographs, vol. 1, num. 5, pp. 225-455. Editor: Hodge, F. W. Heye Foundation, Museum of the American Indian. 1928.

  1. Mooney, James, The Powhatan Confederacy Past and Present, Amer. Anthr., vol. ix, no. 1, 1907, p. 150[]

20 thoughts on “Nansemond Tribe”

  1. My family tree goes to Shadrach Collins Godwin. It goes back as far as Nanzattico Talbot. I have just recently learned about this connection. Any information would be helpful.

  2. My DNA matches up from me all the way up to Theophilus Bass 1753–1826 who is my 5th great-grandfather on my grandmothers side and his wife Rachel. Vinson (Bass) 1755–1824. I have otherwise tracked my family tree from there using directly to my 10th great grandfather John Bass and Keziah (Elizabeth Bass) Tucker and beyond. How much faith should I have in the information found that goes past my DNA line that ends with my 5th great-grandfather on

    Any assistance in this quest for knowledge would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
    Stephen Wells

    1. I follow the tree, Current. Jesse Leslie Bass JR, Jessie Leslie Bass Sr, Gilbert Green Bass, John William Bass…I went to which took me back to Robin the Elder Chief of the Nansemond whos brothers daughter, married a Bass…

    2. Theo, would have been my grandfather down the line… Go next to Jacob Oren Bass, then, John Bass. Don’t enter a Mormon number, as in dont have done either. Start with Jessie Leslie Bass. Or go to Robin the Elder Chief of the Nansemond. I am direct lineage of Bass, my father was Jesse Leslie Bass.

  3. Hello all. I have tracked my ancestry from my grandmother (Neva Geneva Bass) to John and Elizabeth Basse of the Nansemond Indian Nation on Below was the outcome.

    John Basse (1616-1699) + Keziah Elizabeth Tucker (1624-1676)
    William Bass (1654-1741) + Catherine Lanier (1650-1692)
    John Bass (1673-1732) + Love Harris (1677-1732)
    John Bass (1715-1777) + Elizabeth Winborne (1705-1745)
    Jacob Bass (1740-1792) + Tabitha Ann Fuller (1733-1791)
    Theophilus Bass (1753-1826) + Rachel Vinson (1755-1824)
    John Bass (1785-1862) + Ann Wherry (1784-1841)
    Sion B Bass (1802-1884) + Sarah Philips (1803-1880)
    Elias B Bass (1829-1906) + Eliza J Hearne (1837-1890)
    Joe S Bass (1866-1938) + Maretta Lowrey (1873-1933)
    Neva Geneva Bass (1893-1950) + Jessie B Wells (1892-1951)
    William J Wells (1924-1987) + Brigette C von Guldenstubbe (1934-Present)
    Stephen R Wells (1960-Present) + Peggy Sue Bell (1961-Present)

    Can someone tell me of any mistakes in this tree. I don’t trust all of the info I have found on But through research I have double verified each step via at least 2 sources.

    Thanks in advance for any assistance.

    1. William R Bergmann

      My sister is big into this stuff, its incredibly interesting, everything you wrote, she just explained to me, I guess we’re related

  4. Nancy Koen Parish

    My ancestry goes back through the Nansemond tribes and the Basse family of Jamestown. I am fascinated in a line that wasn’t known to us until I did my DNA and started researching through ancestry.

  5. I’d be interested in connecting with anyone that is researching a connection to the Nansemond through families with the surnames of Williams, King, Howe, and Farrar.
    I’m also trying to find out more information on Hannah Basse that was married to Henry William Kerby. Hannah died abt 1703 in Suffolk, Nansemond, Virginia.
    My e-mail is

    1. Yes my Great Grand mother on my fathers sides name is Augusta Lee King
      Born around 1904 Im not able to find her BC but She married Pink Bradford in Gonzales Tx.
      Any information would most definelty apreciated

  6. My name is William Van Bass. I am originally from Michigan but now live in Tn. My father Willis James Bass was born in Terrell Tx . in 1929. I have been tracing our heritage back as far as 1480. I have documentation of being of Nansemond blood. I was born in 1954. I would truly love to hear from someone concerning my heritage. I’ve known my whole life that I had Indian blood , but now I have proof as far as I know. John Bass and his wife Princess Keziah Elizabeth are directly related to me as others. My phone number is 731-577-4467. My email is looking forward to speaking with someone about my proud heritage. Thank you.

    1. Elizabeth Tucker related to Robin the Elder Chief of the Nansemond. I am a Bass, with Direct lineage as far as I can find, straight back.

  7. Melanie Garvin Gregory

    I recently learned that I am a descendant of Kezia Elizabeth. I am just so proud and yet sad at the same time. I wish I knew more about the Nansemond and how to be legitimately involved.
    Melanie Garvin Gregory
    X12 Granddaughter of Keziah & John Basse.

  8. Hello! My 9x Great Grandmother was born in Chuckatuck Nansemond (that is how it is listed). I was told this means she was part of the tribe. I haven’t been able to get any further because her parents are not listed anywhere and all I have is the Christian name she married under. Previous to that all I have is a date of birth. How can I verify that she is Nansemond Indian? Her name is Margaret Wiggs. She Married William Yarrett who immigrated to the US from England from what I can tell. I also show that she passed away in the same town she was born in.

    1. Lynn… My research at Isle of Wight CH shows William Yarrett, the immigrant, whose wife was named Margaret, arrived in Isle of Wight sometime before 1 April 1641 when he was mentioned as an adjoining landowner in a deed on Seaward’s (Seward’s) Creek. He owned 500 acres on Pagan, Seward’s and Goose Creek. (IOW DB1, pg 694.) He was a Quaker and was arrested for having a meeting at his Home on Pagan Creek in 1663. (Boddie)
      His will ( IOW W&A pg. 229) dated 9 March 1679 and recorded 8 July 1682 mentioned ” grandchild Henry Wiggs the younger” suggests that Henry Wiggs the elder had married his daughter, possibly the Margaret mentioned next in the will. My interest was in my ancestor John Murray who married his daughter Elizabeth. Hope this helps. Jethro Lilley.Jethro

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