Maine: An Encyclopedia
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Bass, George H.

(1843- c. 1926) In 1911 Wilton was a thriving community whose merchants and factories supplied a wide variety of goods and services from automobiles to granite and steel. Like many of its contemporaries, Wilton had a free public library, an electric light and power company and a private academy. The town’s development was greatly facilitated by its proximity to a branch of the Maine Central Railroad.

It was also home to the Wilton Woolen Company and the G. H. Bass and Company shoe and boot plant. George Henry Bass, born in Wilton in 1843, attended the local schools, and at age seventeen, taught school for one year.

He then began his business career as a tanner. He sold his leather to several major shoe making firms throughout Maine.  By 1876, Bass decided to enter the shoe making business himself. He focused on making tough boots for specific uses, including for river drivers. In 1909 he began his successful line of moccasins.

G.H. Bass was involved in public service, as a State Legislator in 1914-1915, over twenty years as Wilton’s town treasurer, and as a trustee of Wilton Academy.

He appears in the annual state yearbook as early as 1871, and in 1879 he added boot making to his business, in all likelihood having purchased the Packard and Company shoe shop. Bass apparently prospered in his manufacturing enterprise because in 1904 he acquired the former Fuller sawmill site and built the existing large three-story frame mill.

Unlike his contemporary industrialist Hugh J. Chisholm in Rumford, who created Strathglass Park, a planned workers’ community, Bass acquired existing houses and either moved them or used them on their original site. In other instances he built modest frame tenement buildings for his employees. The most notable result of this policy is a widely scattered distribution of dwellings in Wilton that were formerly associated with Bass; a pattern unlike the dense concentration of houses at Strathglass Park. The Bass Boarding House in Wilton clearly illustrates the solution that the G. H. Bass Company found in addressing the problem of workers’ housing.

Additional resources

Hatch, Louis Clinton. (Ed.) Maine: A History. Volume 4. American Historical Society. New York. 1919. pp. 221-223.

United States. Department of the Interior. National Park Service. “Bass Boarding House.” https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/nrhp/text/88000396.PDF (accessed May 2, 2017)

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