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Mary (Bass) Bunch (1828 - 1880)

Mary (Polly) Bunch formerly Bass
Born in Louisiana, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married [date unknown] in Rapides Parish Louisianamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Vernon, Louisiana, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 28 Apr 2010
This page has been accessed 586 times.


The date of birth on Mary's tombstone is 1826, and this caused much confusion in determining her parentage. However, in 1900 when John Jackson Bass was living with Mary's daughter, Caroline, and was listed as her uncle, we knew Mary's parents were James and Millie (Groves) Bass, who were also John's parents. He could not have been Caroline's uncle unless he was Caroline's mother's brother. Further interviews with family members repeatedly noted that Mary was born on leap year, 29 Feb, as was shown on her tombstone. A check of the perpetual calendar cleared up the mystery, as 1826 was not a leap year; 1828 was the leap year. This was further verified by census reports where Mary consistently listed her birth year as 1828. We concluded the tombstone entry was incorrect, and Mary was indeed the child of James Bass and Millie Groves.

Mary Bass married James Bunch at a very early age, probably in Rapides Parish, LA, and five children were born. As the marriage records in this parish prior to 1864 were destroyed in a courthouse fire, the actual record is not available.

In 1850, James and Mary Bunch were living in Rapides Parish, LA, where James listed his occupation as a farmer. The 1860 and 1870 census records indicated the Bunches were still in Rapides Parish. An interesting account of some experiences of the Bunch family during the Civil War, was told to Jane McManus by a graddaughter, and is printed here for other family members.

"When the Civil War began, many families in the South were divided against the cause. James Bunch was unable to convince himself that slavery was right, so found himself sympathizing with the North. It was difficult to exist in the South during those war years, but almost intolerable when one was a Northern sympathizer. To complicate matters, James' only son joined the Union Army.

It was only natural, therefore, that the Southern forces stationed near Alexandria made it a practice to harass Northern sympathizers. Not long after Elijah left home to serve with the Union Army, James Bunch was picked up by the Union and taken to Alexandria where he was imprisoned. The reason he was picked up was never made clear.

Mary Bunch was left at home with four young daughters. The area was full of wives and children whose husbands, fathers, and brothers had gone to fight the war. Often Mary would cook all kinds of good things to eat, load up the wagon, and lead the oxen-pulled cart to Alexandria to visit her husband. Caroline and Catherine went with their mother on these visits, and the soldiers delighted in terrorizing the girls about their father. Catherine remembered being told that the soldiers were going to hang her father by his thumbs.

It was not long before the soldiers realized that holding James Bunch in jail was not sufficient punishment. When Mary heard this news she had the girls take their brother's horse to the thicket and hide him. Elijah was so proud of his horse that Mary was determined the soldiers would not ever take the animal. She also hid her silver money, as well as the confederate money, telling her daughters it would be valuable some day. Her efforts were futile, as the soldiers under the command of Colonel Ivy, found the horse. They tore down the fences and turned the cows into the fields to trample and eat the crops. The house was then burned. Mary took her daughters to the old Flactor Church where they lived until the war was over.

Thereafter, when the family visited James in jail, young Catherine took a butcher knife hidden under dress. If she ever saw her brother's beloved horse, she planned to kill the horse as well as whoever had it. If Elijah could not have the horse, then nobody else was going to have it. Fortunately for Catherine, the horse was never seen again, and Elijah never returned from the war. Word was sent to Mary Bunch that her only son had contacted measles and died. His burial is unknown.

At the close of the war, James Bunch was released and returned to rebuild his home. The paper money Mary buried was now worthless, and the silver was never found. Elizabeth, Catherine and Matilda married, leaving Caroline the only child at home with her parents. In 1875, Mary Bunch went blind and Caroline took care of her mother, father and Uncle John Bass until their death."


Laurel Hill Cemetery, Hicks, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, USA [1]


  1. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 22 February 2020), memorial page for Mary “Polly” Bass Bunch (29 Feb 1826–16 Mar 1880), Find A Grave: Memorial #27755909, citing Laurel Hill Cemetery, Hicks, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by debmcdaniel (contributor 47066047) .

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Polly by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Polly:

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