Bascom is at the junction of State Highway 64 and Farm Road 848, a mile east of Tyler in central Smith County. The Texas State Quail Farm is located just to the south. The area was the site of a spring at the crossing of Indian trails and was settled as early as 1846, when William McAdams built one of the first gristmills in the county. John Pinkerton was buried in the Bascom Methodist Church cemetery the following year, when the Chancellor family owned most of the local land. In 1849 workers at the mill helped build the nearby Tyler-Henderson road. In 1856 a Bascom post office opened with Suzannah W. Smith as postmistress; the office closed after six months. The community was apparently named for Bishop Henry Biddleman Bascom of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1857 Jesse Cook deeded two acres to the community for a Methodist church; Rev. Caleb H. Smith was the first pastor. Bascom also had a doctor, Lazaira W. Smith, and a corn mill owned and operated by Rice Knowles. A Bascom school had opened by 1860, with classes taught by Dr. Smith and George A. Martin. Harmony Baptist Church was also established that year, when William R. Griffen donated seven acres for the church and a cemetery, later called Bascom Cemetery East; Griffen later gave another acre that became Bascom Cemetery West. In 1869 Walter Funderburgh bought the mill and added a cotton gin upstairs. By 1872 the school had a one-room wooden building in which students sat on plank benches. The average enrollment was twelve, and the school was moved at least three times.
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