9 Nov 1835 – 17 Dec 1922
John H. Bass was born in Salem, Kentucky, and came to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1852. He first worked as a grocery clerk while he studied bookkeeping at night school, then worked for a railroad concern as an auditor. The next year, he joined his brother and some others in a machine shop business. In 1857, using money he’d made in this business, he did some real estate speculation on the Iowa frontier which paid off handsomely. He returned to Fort Wayne with $15K in cash and land holdings worth more than $50K – an absolute fortune for the time period. He and his partners sold their machine shop to the railroad and cofounded another foundry and machine business.
John’s brother Colonel Sion Bass (Union) was killed at Shiloh. John did not go to war, instead buying out his surviving partners and making bank manufacturing axles and wheels for the railroad. Shortly after the war, John married Laura Lightfoot who was 13 years his junior. They had two children and became leading lights of Fort Wayne society.
Over the next many years, John extended his business interests beyond Fort Wayne, even opening a major ironworks in Chicago after the Great Fire to capitalize on the subsequent building boom. He was involved in all kinds of businesses of local importance to Fort Wayne including being president of the First National Bank for 30 years.
Today, he is best remembered for his country home named Brookside (though we always just called it the Bass Mansion). Brookside and its extensive grounds are now home to the University of St. Francis. The mansion was turned into the college library for many years, but in 2009, it underwent an extensive renovation. Tours are available of the renovated mansion, but parts of the building are still being used as offices. Brookside is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
John, Laura, their son who died in his 20s; and their daughter, her husband and many of their descendants are entombed in this mausoleum which sits alone up on top of a hill looking over the whole cemetery.
RIP Bass family