William T. Baskin

Pages 668-670
William T. Baskin is numbered among the largest planters and stockmen in Perry County, and is well known throughout the surrounding country. He was born in Tipton County, Tenn, October 28, 1840, and is the second child of thirteen born to John Baskin and Cynthia Smith, of Perry and Tipton Counties, Tenn, respectively. The maternal great grandfather was a soldier in many of the battles fought during the Revolution, and the paternal grandfather was also a soldier in the War of 1812. The parents were married in Tipton County, Tenn in the year 1837, and out of their family of thirteen children, seven sons and two daughters lived to have families of their own, and at the present time seven survive. The parents moved to Arkansas in January 1844, and located about ten miles west of the present site of Dardanelle where they entered a tract of eighty acres, which they improved and resided on for ten years, then sold out, and moved to Perry County in 1854, where the father entered 120 acres of land, and farmed successfully for four years. The elder Baskin was a firm believer that the soil was more productive farther north, and again sold out with the intention of moving, but at the earnest entreaties of his family he concluded to remain, and again purchased land from the Government, which he improved and lived upon until his death in February 1860. William T. Baskin, his son, was educated in the subscription schools of Arkansas. Three months previous to his fathers' death William married Miss Elizabeth Jane Story, of Tennessee, a daughter of Henry Story and Nancy Taylor, who were among the earlier settlers of Arkansas. The worldly wealth of the young couple at that time amounted to $200 but they settled on the old homestead with hearts full of hope, and the husband began working with a will to make a comfortable home and a bright future for his bride. At the outbreak of the Rebellion his plans were all overthrown. He was strongly opposed to secession and in sympathy with the Union, and could not conscientiously enter into the service of the Confederate army. As a consequence he was subjected to all the embarrassments and persecutions incident to his situation and for more than a year resisted every influence to induce him to join the Southern army. The strain, however, was too great, and at last he enlisted in Capt Boring's company in the old Hawthorne regiment, serving for three months, when he became so disgusted that he deserted and returned home. Here he found himself no better off than in the army and as Capt John Ward was recruiting a company of cavalry at that time, Mr. Baskin was taken captive to Boston Mountains in Newton County Ark, and every means taken to induce him to enlist in the Federal army, but without success as he did not care to go North, so he was paroled and scouted his way back to his family in Perry County, with whom he remained until October 1863. Circumstances then demanded that something be done to allow men to exercise their wishes as to whether they should fight in opposition to their principles or fight to sustain them. Accordingly many of the citizens of Perry, Yell, Pope, Johnson and Conway Counties determined to organize companies for the Federal army, in order to give Union men an opportunity to enlist under the stars and stripes. The result was the organization of the Third Arkansas Regiment of Cavalry, United States Army, commanded by Col A.H. Ryan, Mr. Baskin becoming a member of Company C, and serving for one year and seven months. He took part in a number of skirmishes throughout the State, but was never in any regular engagement and was never wounded nor reported on the sick list. On May 22, 1865 he was honorably discharged at Lewisburg Ark and afterward resided near that town, which was in possession of the Federals in order to be protected from the guerillas. After rejoining his family once more, Mr. Baskin moved to Perry County and settled on a farm in Casa Township, which he had come in possession of while in the army. His family consisted of himself and wife and two children: Cynthia Ann (born October 14, 1861) and Mary Alice (born March 11, 1863). In October 1866 another child was born to them, Sarah Elizabeth, and about this time Mrs. Baskin was taken sick. The following year, in consequence of his wife's ill health, and the expense incurred by her sickness, he was forced to sell his improved farm and return to the old homestead where he first began his married life. Three years later Mrs. Baskin recovered her health, but her husband was practically bankrupt. On Mar 9, 1868 another child was born, John Henry, then Mabel Catherine (born July 7, 1872) and James R. (born February 8, 1875); on September 13 they were bereaved by death of little John Henry, who was laid to rest in Ridge Cemetery, Yell County. The balance of Mr. Baskin's children have all had the benefits of the schools in Arkansas and have acquired a good knowledge of the English branches of education. Cynthia A. was married to Mr James A. Goodson of Yell County, a well known blacksmith and farmer, and this union has made them the parents of six children. Mary Alice was united in marriage to Mr William McCabe, a farmer of Perry County, and this marriage has given them four children. Sarah Elizabeth was married to Mr. Jefferson Parker of Tennessee and had two children, one of them dying since. While Mr. and Mrs. Baskin are not members of any church, they take great interest in and are liberal supporters of all religous and educational matters, and Mr Baskin has been a member of the school board for a number of years. He is a staunch Republican in politics and for several years served as justice of the peace for his township. He is a straightforward man, sincere in his expressions, and has the courage to speak and follow his convictions under all circumstances, as his career has amply proven, and commands the respect and the esteem of his fellow citizens.