Bass was born on July 21,
1851 near Mitchell, Indiana. His mother, Jane, died in 1861. His father
died in 1864. He had two brothers and four sisters. All were raised bytheir
maternal uncle David L. Sheeks. Sam hated school but loved horses, hunting,
and cards. He ran away from home about 1869.
He arrived at Denton County, Texas, where he worked as a teamster, but
soon tired of it. He quit to become owner of a one-man racing stable.
The jockey was a thin black man named Charlie Tucker. He won many races.
Bass's first brush with the law was over a horse racing dispute. He won.
From there he went on to San Antonio, where he formed a partnership with
Joel Collins, a bartender. The two bought some cattle and drove them north,
probably to Kansas, where they sold them. From there, they went on to
Deadwood, South Dakota. They tried freighting but it wasn't profitable.
So the two formed a gang. The gang consisted of Tom Nixon, Bill Potts,
Jim Berry, Jack Davis, and Robert "Little Reddy" McKimie. McKimie
was kicked out of the gang after their first robbery, in which he shot
and killed the driver. They held up the Deadwood stage seven times, but
none of them yielded much. So they decided to try their hand at train
On September 19, 1877, they robbed the Union Pacific train at Big Springs,
Nebraska for $60,000. Barry and Nixon went to Missouri where Berry was
later killed. Nixon fled to Canada and was never heard from again. Collins
and Potts were shot to death in an ambush at Buffalo Station, Kansas.
Davis fled to New Orleans and Bass went back to Texas.
He arrived in Denton, Texas on November 1, 1877. Bass organized another
gang there including Frank "Blockey" Jackson, Seaborn Barnes,
and others. He and Jackson and Tom Spotswood held up a train at Allen,
Texas, on February 22, 1878. Spotswood later was captured and identified.
Captain Junius Peak was summoned to Austin by the governor to capture
or kill Bass and his gang. He was a good choice since he was a civil war
veteran. He was also a law officer and part of the group that ended rustling
in Billy the Kid's Land in New Mexico. Also after Bass was U.S. Marshal
Stillwell Russell, Sheriff Bill Everheart's posse from Grayson County,
and Sheriff Eagan's posse from Denton County
When he got ready to hold up the Texas and Pacific Railroad the second
time, volunteers flocked in. Sam Pipes, Albert Heindon, William Collins,
and William Scott and nine others joined the gang. This was the first
time any of the gang had been hurt. Barnes had four gunshot wounds. One
man died. Mesquite was Bass's last train robbery. Posses were after them
all over the place. They battled each other across the county. At Salt
Creek, another gang member was killed by Peak's rangers.
Jim Murphy cut a deal to save him and his father, in exchange for leading
the law to the gang. He set up an ambush at Round Rock, where they would
"Rob" the Williamson County Bank. On July 19, 1878, Bass, Barnes,
Jackson, and Murphy scouted the area before the actual robbery. They bought
some tobacco at Henry Koppel's store, which did not go unnoticed by Williamson
County Deputy Sheriff Caige Grimes. When Grimes approached the three,
he was shot and killed. more shots were fired and another deputy named
Moore and Bass were both wounded. Barnes, Jackson, and Bass quickly mounted
their horses, firing at Major Jones, Dick Ware, and a man named Tubbs.
Ware shot Barnes as he mounted his horse. As they galloped away, Bass
was shot again in the back by a man ranger named George Herold. Bass later
was found by the authorities while Jackson escaped. They took him into
custody where he died from his wounds the next day, on July 21, 1878,
at just 27 years old. In 1879, his sister came to mark his grave with
a tombstone. Pieces of the stone and Seve's stone were taken by souvenir
hunters until there was no more stone. An the 1920's, S. E. Loving, a
local Monument maker placed a concrete slab over both graves.
-copyright 2005 by Beth