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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Wellington E. Bassler

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[This information is from pp. 209-211 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Wellington E. Bassler, one of the leading business men of Middleburg, N. Y., was born on August 19, 1848, son of David and Augusta (Tibbits) Bassler. His paternal grandfather was Henry Bassler. He was born in Knox, Albany County, and spent his early years in that place. After his marriage he came to Huntersland, this town, and settled on what is now known as the Bassler homestead, where he spent the remainder of his life, and where he died at the age of forty-four. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Saddlemyer, was also a native of Albany County. She lived to reach the age of eighty-nine. Of the ten children born to her, five are living, namely: Amanda, who married Resolved Macomber; Amaziah; Eliza Ann, who married Peleg Cook; Sylvester, who occupies the old homestead; and Lucy, who married Salem Smith, and resides near Rensselaerville, Albany County.

David Bassler, who was born in Huntersland, March 22, 1822, and died September 13, 1893, was reared on the home farm, and up to 1859, with the exception of one year, was engaged exclusively in agricultural work. In 1860 he went into mercantile life in Huntersland; and in 1869 he bought the Luther Vroman store in Middleburg, at the corner of Main Street and Railroad Avenue, and thus became the proprietor of what to-day, under the efficient management of his successors, is one of the leading stores in town. David Bassler's wife, to whom he was married in October, 1847, was the daughter of Harry and Betsy (Styles) Tibbits, of Huntersland, early residents of the town. Mr. Tibbits lived to be eighty-five years of age, and Mrs. Tibbits lived to be sixty. Mrs. Augusta T. Bassler, who died on September 7, 1880, at the age of fifty-two, was one of four daughters born to her parents. She was a member, of the Christian church at Huntersland. Her children were: Wellington E. Bassler; Ida, who married Peter Wormer; and Ella, who married George B. Hyde, of Middleburg.

Wellington E. Bassler was educated in the public schools, and at Starkey Seminary, from which he was graduated in June, 1869. Following this he was clerk in his father's store for two years, and then in 1871 he was admitted to a half-interest in the business, which assumed the name of D. Bassler & Son. In April, 1875, John H. Cornell bought the elder Mr. Bassler's interest, and the firm name was changed to Bassler & Cornell. On January 1, 1880, Mr. Cornell retired. In 1887 Mr. Bassler took into partnership two of his clerks, C. L. McBain and George B. Wheeler, and the firm name has since been W. E. Bassler & Co.

Mr. Bassler is a wide-awake man, and is interested in varied enterprises of a progressive character. He is a warm-hearted Republican, and has been connected with the Republican County Committee for some time, six years as its chairman, and a number of years as secretary of the committee. On April 1, 1889, he assumed the duties of Postmaster of Middleburg. He held this position five years, and in that time he greatly improved the postal service of this town, had the satisfaction of seeing the office raised from the fourth class to the third class list, and the position of Postmaster made a salaried one. Since then the salary has been increased by five hundred dollars. Mr. Bassler was nominated for the Assembly in 1894, and again in 1896, and in both instances ran ahead of his ticket by hundreds of votes. Since 1894 he has been president of the Mutual Fire Insurance Association, which was formed that year by the business men of Middleburg, to embrace Schoharie, Otsego, and Albany Counties, Chenango and Montgomery Counties having been added since. This association has met with remarkable success, and does a very large amount of business. Mr. Bassler is also a director in the Oak Hill and Middleburg Local Exchange Telephone Companies; a director of the First National Bank of Middleburg; director of the Middleburg and Schoharie Railroad; and president of the board of trustees of Starkey Seminary, which position he has held since 1881. He was a trustee of Middleburg Academy for six years, and for four years of the time president of the board. Ten years ago he founded the Starkey Seminary Monthly, of which he was the editor until 1897. Mr. Bassler is an active worker in the Reformed church, and since 1884 has been superintendent of its Sunday-school. From 1882 to 1888 he was secretary of the County Association of Sunday-schools, and subsequently for five years he was president of the association. Since 1893 he has been president of the Schoharie County Bible Society.

Mr. Bassler's store is in a most prosperous condition. Four assistants are employed in its management; and since it is one of the old-established business enterprises in this region, and has always maintained its early reputation for honest dealing and high grade goods, it has the confidence and the patronage of the public.

Mr. Bassler has seen many and important changes in Middleburg since he first began business here. The handsome school-house has been built, many of the big business blocks have been erected, and a water supply system has been introduced into the town. He himself has aided in many of the more noteworthy improvements. On January 1, 1890, he associated himself with Mr. G. L. Fox in founding the Middleburg News, a paper advanced in rank and one now growing steadily in favor, as well as one which bears the distinction of being the first Republican paper in this end of the county.

In 1874 Mr. Bassler was united in marriage with Alida, only child of Hezekiah Manning, and a native of this place. Mr. Manning was born here, and spent his entire life engaged in farming. He died in 1889. His wife, whose maiden name was Maria Beekman, was born in Sharon. She resides with Mr. and Mrs. Bassler. Since his marriage Mr. Bassler has made his home at the old Manning homestead, which is a very attractive place just outside the village, the house being sheltered by tall elms and stately pines, surrounded by extensive grounds, and guarded by the dark-browed, lofty cliffs which stand as venerable sentinels at the eastern portals of the Schoharie Valley. Mr. Bassler is a great fancier of poultry, and has model poultry yards, where he raises many fancy breeds, such as Leghorns, Plymouth Rocks, and Light Bramahs. He makes a feature of egg-producing poultry, and ships eggs west as far as Colorado, and South as far as Maryland. He is also a fancier of Holstein cattle.

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