Rudy and Elizabeth Basom and their fourteen children

Rudy and Elizabeth Basom lived in Dauphin County and Perry County, and had fourteen children. They appear in a thirty-year span of records but we learn surprisingly little about them. The records do not show where they came from before they first appear in 1785, or when their children were born, or the last name of Elizabeth. Rudy and Elizabeth were almost certainly Mennonite, a group averse to keeping records. This makes it harder to piece together the marriages of their children and birth of the next generation; what makes it easier is that there was only one Basom family in Perry County in this time period.1

Basom is not a common name, and it is possible that all of the Basoms in central Pennsylvania were descended from Rudy. There are two early references to other men named Bessem in the same area, but there is no evidence to connect them to Rudy and no sign that they had families. Henry Bessem was taxed in Frederick Town (later in Dauphin County) in 1770.2 Frederick Town was an early name for Hummelstown, which is just north of Londonderry Township where Rudy would appear fifteen years later.3 Rudy did name a son Henry, but he had eleven sons, so this is hardly conclusive. The other early Bessem was Peter Beassem, who appeared in the 1781 Cumberland County militia roll, in Captain Philip Mathew’s company. Rudy was probably born about 1763, and Peter would be about the same age, so if he is related it would be as a brother.4

Rudy first appears in the records in 1785, when he was taxed in Londonderry Township, Dauphin County.5 Rudy paid taxes of 2s 6d, less than some of his neighbors. He was still there through 1787, when he was taxed for 5 shillings as an inmate (non-landholder), suggesting that he had sold his land. He does not appear in the 1790 census for Dauphin County.6 Perhaps he was living and working in someone else’s house, suggesting that he was poor.7 In 1794 he was in a list of freeholders in Lower Paxtang Township, Dauphin County, which included much of the southwestern corner of the county at the time.8 Finally in 1797 he bought a 150-acre farm from James Potter of Lewistown and moved his family about sixty miles north to Greenwood Township, Cumberland County (later Perry County).9 The farm lay in the hills above Millerstown, close to the rich farmland of the Pfoutz Valley. The valley was settled by many Germans, and even years later it remained predominately German.10 A letter written in 1791 described the rich farmland of these central Pennsylvania valleys.

“This is the best part of the country that I have Ever seen for industrius people of Every Trade. Carpenters and Masons 7s. 6d. per day, and Labrers 5s. per day, and everything is plentiful, the best of Wheat 4s. pir bushel, Rie [rye] 3s. this currency, Inden corn and buckwheat in proportion. Beef, Mutton and Bacon at 3d. per pound. This is a fearful Country for wild creatures, Such as Dears, Bars, Wolves and Panters, the Dears meet yousd for Beef or venison, and Bears meet Good Bacon. Fishes and Folls in Great plenty. This is a fine Country for Roots and Vegtales. I shall send you a smal account of them Coowcumbers, Water Mellens, Squashes and Pomp-cans, with a variety of Beanes, sich as you have none in England, with many others too tedis to Name. Al rises from the Ground With out much troble and comes to Great pirfection.”11

In 1798 Rudy was taxed on the “windowpane” tax in Cumberland County. He had a cabin 26 x 22 and a stable 18 x 14, both on a tract of 109 acres, 40 perches. He was taxed $248.12

In 1800 Rudy was farming in Greenwood Township, and had nine people in the household. He already had seven sons and a daughter. There was no adult woman listed in the household, raising the possibility that Elizabeth was a second wife. (More likely this was an omission by the census taker.) 13

Rudy had fourteen children, probably with Elizabeth, although there are no birth records for any of them. Their names are known from the Orphan’s Court records after Rudy and Elizabeth died. In the 1800 census record, one of the sons was over 16 (Christly), two were 10 to 16 (Jacob & another uncertain), and four were under 10 (Henry, Samuel, David, and possibly John).  The daughter under 10 was probably Mary. By 1810 most of the children were born and some of them were already married. There were only two sons and two daughters still at home.14 Some of them may have been living with other families.

Rudy and Elizabeth were probably Mennonites. There are no early records to show this, but at least three of their sons were buried in Mennonite Cemeteries, and several of their children married into known Mennonite families, such as Shirk. In addition the names of some of their sons—Henry, Michael, Jacob, and Christly—were popular among the Mennonite families such as the Aukers and Lauvers.15 The Mennonites built a meeting house in Greenwood Township, near Richfield.16 Rudy and Elizabeth probably worshipped there.

When Rudy died, before April 1813, he left eight children under the age of 14 and a total of fourteen children altogether.17  He did not leave a will, so the Orphans Court supervised the administration of the estate. Caleb North was appointed as administrator, and Caspar Auker was chosen as guardian for the eight younger children: John, Martin, Rudolph, Peter, Abraham, Elizabeth, Ann and Daniel.18 North reported that the goods in the estate available for distribution amounted to $168.42.19 On December 10, 1816, the current guardian George Hoffman reported that Elizabeth, Rudy’s widow, was also dead, along with their daughter Mary. Mary’s share of the estate was to descend to her surviving brothers and sisters. What happened to the minor children, eight of them under 21? They must have strained the households of the older brothers, who were beginning to have children of their own.

The main asset was the farm, 150 acres bounded by lands of Henry Limpart, David Pfouts, and Abraham Adams. Thirteen of the children were still alive: the eight younger ones, plus Christian, Jacob, Henry, Samuel and David.20 The court asked the sheriff to determine whether the farm could be divided or whether it must be sold. The following May the sheriff gave an appraisal, and the heirs were summoned to accept or refuse it. They did not appear, although they were called again four more times over several years and notices were printed in the Carlisle Herald and a Philadelphia newspaper. Finally in 1826 the court ordered the property to be sold.21

Normally an administrator would sell the property and divide the proceeds among the heirs, but apparently this did not happen. Instead Christian, the eldest son, continued to live on the home farm, although he did not own it outright, only a share. He may have been living on it and taking care of his parents before they died, as well as his younger brothers and sisters after Rudy and Elizabeth died. Since it was not sold and divided, his brothers and sisters had a right to their share. This might explain why the Orphan’s Court did not close the books on the estate settlement until 1860, long after Christian himself was dead.

In 1860 we have another list of the heirs, when there was another Orphan’s Court record. It named William Auker as an heir to the property, along with David and Martin Basom, both dead by then but with heirs, and John and Abraham Basom, both of unknown residence. Presumably Henry and Rudy Jr. were still alive, though neither is mentioned in the proceeding. As published in the Perry County Democrat of November 29, 1860, the officers of the court appealed for missing heirs to appear before the court to accept or reject the settlement of the estate of Rudolph Beasom. “And now to wit: October 29th, 1860, Inquistion confirmed and Rule on the heirs of the Real Estate mentioned in this Inquisition, to wit: —William Auker, David Beasom, who is now dead, and left a widow and a child, the residence of said widow and child is unknown, Martin Beasom, now dead, and left a widow and issue one child, a minor daughter, who resides in Perrysville, Juniata county, and has for her Guardian Edmund S. Doty, of Mifflintown, Juniata county, Pa., John Beasom and Abraham Beasom, the residence of neither of the last two named is known; William Auker, above named, being the owner of eight-twelfths, to appear at the next term…”22 Note that only four of the Basom heirs are still concerned with the property—David, Martin, John and Abraham—and David and Martin are apparently dead.23

The older children of Rudy and Elizabeth stayed in Pennsylvania, while the younger ones tended to scatter. In particular the four oldest sons stayed around Juniata County. There are no apparent records for three of the children and they may have died young—Elizabeth, Ann (unless she is identical with Nancy, and Daniel). Since no birth records have yet been found for any of the children, the dates of birth are not known, and several are estimated from cemetery or census records.24 Two consistent threads run through the records of the next two generations: they did not name children after parents or grandparents, and when there was a trade mentioned, other than farmer, it was usually carpenter.

Rudy and Elizabeth had at least 40 grandchildren, whom they never knew.25

Children of Rudy and Elizabeth: 26

Christian (Christly), b. ab. 1783, d. Jan. 30, 1845, m. ab. 1809 Susannah Lang (d. 1881), daughter of Andrew & Eva, lived in Greenwood Township, Perry County, a cooper and farmer. They had six children.27

Jacob, b. Feb. 15, 1786, d. 20 April 1859, m. ab. 1816 Catherine Albright, a farmer, buried at Graybill Cemetery, Richfield, Juniata County. Catherine was born 1791 and died July 3, 1861. They had six known children.28

Henry, b. 1790 or 1791, d. June 1861 age 70, m. ab. 1818 Susan Shirk (1791-1881), a farmer, buried at Lost Creek Mennonite Cemetery, Juniata County. They had four known children.

Samuel, married Barbara Page about 1811, d. about 1844 in Mifflintown. They had five known children.

Mary, died unmarried after 1812 and before December 1816

David, b. before April 1799, died before 1860. The Orphan’s Court record of 1860 said that he had a wife and child. However the wife (Elizabeth Graham) and child Mary Margaret sometimes listed for him probably belong to a different man, a David Beesom of Franklin County. There is not enough evidence to identify him here.29

John, b. about 1801, probably married Nancy Haxton and moved to Ohio, if this is the correct John Basom.30

Martin, b. after April 1799, d. 1844, r. Turbett Twp, m. Elizabeth LNU, had a daughter Matilda. Buried at Kilmer Church, Turbett Twp.31 After he died Elizabeth married William Rice.

Abraham, b. Dec. 1804, moved to Clarion County, Pennsylvania, a farmer, married about 1829 Christina Carney, had eight known children. He died on Dec. 24, 1864.

Rudolph Jr., b. ab. 1805, d. 1875, m. about 1833 Julia Ann LNU, a farmer, moved to LaPorte County, Indiana, where he died 21 Dec 1875. She d. 1872. They had five known children.

Peter, b. ab. 1805, no further solid information. The Peter of Columbia County, Pennsylvania, married to a woman named Catherine, with eight children, was consistently in the census as Basan or Basin, not Basam. 32

Elizabeth, no further information.

Ann (Ann Nancy?), b. ab. 1807, possibly married Peter Weaver, but not the Peter Weaver of Dauphin Township, Mifflin County.33

Daniel, probably alive in 1814, no further record. 34


  1. The family name appears in records with many alternate spellings: Basom, Basem, Beasom, Basam, Bezam, Besum, Besam, Basum, Basham, sometimes even Basan or Basin. It is probably distinct from other central Pennsylvania families like Bausum, Bashore/Basor and Beacham.
  2. Ellis & Hungerford, Commemorative and Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, on USGenWeb Archives. He was taxed as a landowner, not a freeman (an unmarried man).
  3.  There is no listing for a will for Henry Basom or Bessem in Lancaster County, PA Probate Records 1683-1994 on
  4.  (See footnote 14 for a discussion of Rudy’s birthdate.) This is probably the Peter Basom who is believed by some researchers to be a brother of Rudy, and a son of Peter Basom and Catherine Rebecca Potter. In the late 1800s a group of Basom descendents believed that they had some claim to land in New York City supposedly leased to the government “for a fort” by a Herman Potter about 1780, a lease that would expire in the 1880s. They attempted to find descendents of this Herman. The letters about this “Potter affair” ended up in a trunk in Washington state owned by Marcus S. Basom. (Post by Ezra Basom, Rootsweb message board for Basom, 25 July 2003) Another researcher, K. Varden Leasa, found a possible link in Rudy’s purchase of a farm in 1797 from James Potter. (Post, 24 July 2003, Rootsweb message board for Basom). But James Potter apparently sold land to many people, according to Ellis’ History of Mifflin County. Leasa speculated that the Basoms lived in the Tulpehocken German settlement in Lebanon and Berks Counties, moving there from the Palatine German communities of New York. (Post on Ancestry board for Bason, 24 July 2003). Larry Sheibley wrote about the family in a mss at the Lenig Library, listed Peter Basom and Catherine Rebecca Potter as possible parents for Rudy. Note that Marcus  Basom, K. Varden Leasa, Larry Sheibley, and Noah Zimmerman, all of whom worked on the Basom family, are all dead, as of 2017.

    The younger Peter supposedly moved to Ontario County, New York, married Catherine Kessler or Keslier, and died there in 1813. He and Rudy lived and died at about the same time. Like Rudy, Peter apparently had children named Peter, Daniel, Samuel, Nancy, and John. This is all suggestive but there is no direct evidence to connect Rudy and Peter. (Findagrave; Ancestry trees; letter from Stanley Soules, on file in the Lenig Library, Perry County. He believed that Rudy and the younger Peter may have been brothers.)

  5. PA Tax and Exoneration 1768-1801, Dauphin County, on Ancestry. Dauphin County was separated from Lancaster County in 1785. Londonderry Township is the southern end of Dauphin, just north of Lancaster County. Rudy does not appear in the tax records of Londonderry Township for 1771, 1772, 1773 or 1782. There was a Rudy Peason taxed as a freeman in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County in 1782, but the name is wrong. This could have been just before he was married. (Lancaster County tax lists at the Lancaster County Historical Society) The tax lists for 1785 through 1787 are reprinted in Kelker’s History of Dauphin County. In 1787 Rudy was listed as Beesun.
  6. I browsed all images for the county.
  7. By 1790 he would only have the first three of so of his children, a list that would eventually grow to fourteen. It would be interesting to know the economic tradeoffs between having lots of children to help around the farm versus the costs of feeding them.
  8. Egle’s Notes and Queries, vol. 2, pp. 336, 339, “An old time register”. Note that Lower Paxtang Township included Paxton, Susquehanna and Swatara townships.
  9. A geographical note: Greenwood Township was formed in 1767 in Cumberland County. The township was split in two in 1789 when Mifflin County was formed from Cumberland County.  In 1820, Perry County was formed from Cumberland Co. and included Cumberland’s part of Greenwood. In 1831, Juniata County was formed from Mifflin County and included Mifflin’s part of Greenwood Township. The two Greenwood Townships are adjacent on opposite sides of the Perry-Juniata county line.
  10. History of Perry County, 1873.
  11. Letter from Charles Hardy to friends in England, written in 1791, describing the land around his farm in Lewistown, quoted in Ellis, History of Mifflin County.
  12. 1798 US Direct Tax List, Cumberland, Greenwood Township, 3rd assessment district, 6th division, Image 270, on Ancestry.
  13. 1800 federal census, Greenwood Township, Cumberland County (indexed as Reedy Basor); 1800 Septennial census (indexed as Ruddy Besome). The Septennial census did not list numbers of people in the household.
  14. 1810 federal census, Greenwood Township. Rudy was indexed as Bezam. A man 45 or over and a women 45 or over are checked, showing that Rudy and Elizabeth were both born in 1765 or earlier. We assume she was not born too much earlier, since she was still having children about 1806. Most Ancestry trees say Rudy was born in 1755; this is possible but he would be quite a bit older than Elizabeth. The fact that he first appears in tax lists in 1785 suggests that he had just come of age then.
  15. Ellis & Hungerford, History of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys, 1886, chapter on Monroe Township. Other Mennonite families were Page or Barge, Shirk, Graybill, Winey, and Bergey.
  16. Ellis & Hungerford, chapter on Monroe Township.
  17. According to Larry Sheibley’s mss in the Basom file at the Lenig Library, Perry County, Rudy died on August 23, 1829, but this cannot be correct if the Orphan’s Court proceedings began in 1814. Where did this precise date come from? It suggests that someone saw a family Bible record, and possibly misquoted it, but this is not clear.
  18., Pennsylvania Probate Records 1683-1994, Cumberland County Orphan’s Court docket, book 5, p. 304 (image 369), court session April 5, 1813.
  19. Cumberland County Orphan’s Court docket, book 5, p. 392 (image 413), court session May 10, 1814. The job of the guardian was to safeguard the property rights of the children, not to take them into his household. Rudy’s estate seems small compared to some of the other estates in the court records of the time.
  20. Cumberland County Orphan’s Court docket, book 6, p. 282 (image 170), court session December 10, 1816.
  21. Cumberland County Orphan’s Court dockets, book 6, p. 405, 443; book 7, p. 48; book 8, p. 52, 74.
  22. Copy of a clipping, in the Basom family file, Lenig library, Perry County.
  23. Noah Zimmerman wrote in 1987 to Harry Focht about the family, a letter preserved in the Basom family file at Lenig Library, Perry County. He described a settlement with the heirs of Joseph Acker (including William Auker?), and listed twelve of the Basom heirs. The letter referred to the estate settlement as about 1843. However he included some facts that occurred after 1863, such as the marriage of Martin’s daughter Matilda. The inference is that Noah added some of his own research to the list. This is the only source for the marriage of David Basom and Nancy Basom. I have not seen any original Orphan’s Court record that includes their marriages.

    Zimmerman listed the Basom children as: Abraham; John, of Blaine Township in Perry County; Peter, of Nescopeck Township in Columbia County; Henry; Daniel; Christian; Rudolph, of East Buffalo Township in Union County; David, deceased with a widow and married daughter; Jacob; Samuel, deceased; Martin, deceased with a married daughter; and Nancy, married to Peter Weaver. Note that this list did not include Mary, Elizabeth, or Ann, and substituted Nancy. He mentioned heirs of some (David and Martin), but omitted others.

  24. In general the ones who stayed near Perry or Juniata County are better documented than the ones who left for other counties or states. The records are particularly weak (or non-existent) for David, Peter, Elizabeth, Ann Nancy, and Daniel.
  25. There are two Basoms unaccounted for, probably born 1820 to 1830, so very likely additional grandchildren. They may be placed in the families of Jacob or Samuel. Philip Basom was taxed in Tuscarora, Juniata County in 1850 as a laborer.  (Juniata County tax records at Juniata County Historical Society). Phrena Basom married  of Perry County married John Bertch in 1841. (Snyder County Marriages 1835-1899, on
  26. Compiled from multiple sources, especially the various Orphans Court records, census records and tombstones.
  27. Commemorative & Biographical Encyc. of the Juniata Valley, vol. 2, pp. 1298-1299. Some sources say that he was born in Richfield, present-day Juniata County. Is there any evidence for this? It would imply that Rudy lived there before settling near Millerstown.
  28. Records of the Graybill Cemetery on USGWArchives.
  29. The Orphan’s Court record was very late. Most of the first generation were dead by then. The information about David must have come from one of his cousins, who may have been mistaken.
  30. There was a John Basom born about 1800 and a Joseph Basom born 1805, both of whom ended up in Ohio “by way of Coshocton”. But who is the Joseph? The John in this record married Nancy Haxton in Ohio in June 1833. (ref: Letter to the Jun Co. Hist Society in 1997). There is a John Basom b. 1797, d. 1861, a farmer, buried in Old Sycamore Cemetery, Wyandot County, Ohio, with wife Sarah Ann, who does not fit well here.
  31. Juniata County Cemetery Index, Juniata County Historical Society, Mifflintown.
  32. According to the Noah Zimmerman letter of 1987 in the Basom file at the Lenig Library.
  33. The Peter Weaver of Dauphin Township was married to Ann Mary Schwab. The only source for her marriage is a letter from Noah Zimmerman; he may have been mistaken.
  34. Ancestry trees say he was born in 1795 and died in 1845, but the date of birth is contradicted by the Orphan’s Court record of 1813.

3 thoughts on “Rudy and Elizabeth Basom and their fourteen children”

  1. Hi

    I am wondering if our Catherine “Bascom” Leddick could actually be a Basom?

    Catherine “Bascom” married Phillip Jacob Leddick (and also first Eberhard Liddick)
    She was listed as Bascom on an early Leddick family record. We have never found any Bascom connections.

    While researching her and searching alternate spellings I discovered some DNA matches to Rudolph Basom descendants.

    In researching Basom I discovered Rudolph was in the same 1798 Greenwood, Cumberland tax list as Phillip Jacob Leddick.

    Also Peter Basom and Eberhard Liddick and later Peter Basom and Phillip Jacob Leddick were in the same 1770s – 1780s Greenwood, Cumberland tax lists.

    In 1800 Phillip Jacob Leddick is in Buffalo, Cumberland, Pennsylvania
    in 1810 he is in Romulus, Seneca, New York

    A Peter Basom – possibly the same one or the son of – is in the 1800 Romulus, Cayuga, New York Census.
    In 1810 he is in the same Romulus, Seneca, New York Census as Phillip Jacob Leddick.
    This Peter’s daughter Nancy marries Phillip’s son Daniel Leddick.
    This is the same Peter discussed in footnote 4

    We also have a few DNA matches that have Basim in Decatur, Washington County OH

    One DNA match indicates in their trees that their John Basim descends from Rudolph but I don’t think that is correct.

    There are also matches that have a Joseph and a Jacob Basim

    Pretty sure they all descend from this Henry Basom Basim abt 1770 -1851.
    The Nancy listed as his spouse appears to actually be John’s wife Nancy.

    This is what I have on them so far …

    1830 Millcreek, Coshocton, Ohio
    page 5 Henry Basom

    1840 Millcreek, Coshocton, Ohio
    page 6 Henry Basom and Grear (and Mary Basom) Merrill

    1840 Decatur, Washington, Ohio Census
    page 5 John and James Basim

    1850 Decatur, Washington, Ohio Census
    page 15 | John b abt 1801 in PA
    page 18-19 | Jacob b abt 1817 in PA | Find a Grave has birth as 1825
    page 19 | Joseph b abt 1805 in PA | also on Find a grave
    page 17 | Mary Basom b 1813 in PA as Mary Marrell with sons Jacob and James.

    Wondering how Henry might connect?

    If anyone has any thoughts, ideas or connections to any of these people please reply

    1. Sorry for the belated reply, Julie, and thank you for your detailed information. There is a separate Bascom family as you probably know. I found this very confusing at first, but I did come to believe that they are not the same as our Basoms. This is a difficult family to research, because of the lack of church records. I suspect that at least some of them were Mennonites, possibly including Rudy and Elizabeth. I will study your information and give you a proper reply soon.

  2. Hi Sue,

    I just happen to remember about my post here today and so checked back and found your reply.

    I don’t think the Bascoms and Basoms connect either but I do think that Catherine might actually have been a Basom.

    If you ever have any thoughts about the info in my post. Please email me direct.

    Also, if you have had your DNA tested with Ancestry, you might search your matches for the Leddick and Liddick surnames.


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