A lesson on Annie BassPublished 6:22pm Friday, July 4, 2014
The Pioneer Museum of Alabama interprets the history of Pike County as well as 18th and 19th century rural life.
Kari Barley, museum director, said the 40-acre museum has 21 historic structures and 18,000 artifacts that illustrate its rich, rustic heritage.
“Four thematic exhibition halls within our Main Gallery display historic farm equipment, textile arts such as quilting and weaving, material culture of pioneer Alabama, the archaeology of Southeastern Native Americans, the military including Civil War and WWI, and Victorian Era in Pike County,” Barley said. “It also gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people who made significant contributions to Pike County in various ways.”
Barley said one exhibit features Gov. Charles Henderson and another features, Pike County Sheriff Ben Reeves.
“Most people who know anything about Pike County are familiar with Gov. Henderson and Sheriff Reeves,” Barley said. “But people often ask about the Bass Rooms and we have great story to tell about Anne Cloud Bass and how the museum came in possession of two rooms of furniture from the Bass house in Brundidge.”
Barley said sharing stories is a favorite pastime of those who work at the museum and those who volunteer.
“It’s important to know about the people who have made contributions to Pike County,” she said. “This is the story that we can share about Annie Cloud Bass and her brother, Walter.”
Anne Cloud Bass easily could have been mistaken for a Russian peasant.
Neither the way she dressed nor her lifestyle indicated that she was the wealthiest woman in the small town of Brundidge.
She and her brother, Walter, were the only two children of Fletcher and Sally Hendrick Bass. Annie Cloud was born into a family of privilege.
Augustus C. Bass and his wife Mary Ann Douglas Bass came to Pike County from Monroe County, Georgia in 1895. Bass was a Methodist minister and a highly regarded teacher. His son, Fletcher, became a respected and successful businessman in Brundidge.
Fletcher Bass’ wish for his son was that he would show a flair for business. Walter ran the Brundidge Mercantile Company along with a construction company. He also dabbled in penny stocks. He believed that a man could amass a good size fortune by buying stock that sold for less than a dollar.
Anne Cloud Bass grew up and lived her life knowing that she was well-heeled. She lived her life without a worry or concern about money. And, she certainly didn’t seem to relish having it.
Neither Anne Cloud nor her brother ever married. They were the lone heirs to the Bass fortune left by their father. “Miss Annie Cloud” as she was fondly called, was a teacher. She felt teaching was her calling in life and she followed in the footsteps of her grandfather, Augustus C. Bass, both as a teacher and a leader in the Methodist church.
It was through her teaching and the example she set in life that Anne Cloud Bass was most influential.
She was one of other most knowledgeable teachers to have passed through the doors of Pike County High School. She never taught for money, only for the love of teaching.
She had no family at home and graciously and willingly gave of her time to her students. She often stayed after school to tutor those who were having difficulty.
Even after her students went off to college, they would come back on weekends and during vacations to seek her advice.
Although there is nothing on record, it is believed that Anne Cloud Bass helped fund the education of a large number of young people in the Brundidge community. In character for her, she would have done so in secret.
Because she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Anne Cloud Bass was able to travel extensively. She brought back to Brundidge first-hand knowledge of the people and places she had been. She brought the world to the doorsteps of her small, hometown community.
She could have lived a life of luxury and privilege but she didn’t. Money was not needed for the things Anne Cloud Bass cherished most –knowledge and someone with whom to share it. She was able to do that as a schoolteacher and a Sunday school teacher.
Anne Cloud Bass was killed in an automobile accident in 1974. The Pike Pioneer Museum (Pioneer Museum of Alabama) was named in her will, along with Pike Liberal Arts School and a Bible college in New York.
At her brother’s death, the museum received the furnishings in her home. Two rooms at the museum are designated the Bass rooms.
Walter Bass died in 1979. He left the entire portion of an estate estimated at $13 million to the Salvation Army, “where it could do the most good.”
The City of Brundidge bought the Bass family home on Main Street and renovated it for use as City Hall.