Stories‎ > ‎

William Thompson Bazzell

The following was sent to me by a descendent of Vertie Eudora Bazzell. It was a typed page about Vertie's brother, William Thompson Bazzell.

William Thompson Bazzell

Of Tishomingo, Miss., Representative of Tishomingo county, was born January 14, 1880, at Red Sulphur Springs, Hardin county, Tennessee. His father, Harris Jones Bazzell, was a native of Marshall county, Kentucky, and a Methodist minister. The mother of Representative Bazzell, before her marriage, was Sarah Wilson Sawyers. His paternal grandparents were Calvin Thompson and Mary Bazzell. His maternal grandparents were William Cooper and Emaline Sawyers, of Red Sulphur Springs, Tennessee. William C. Sawyers was a private soldier in the 2nd Mississippi Regiment under Col. Clark during the Mexican War, and rose to the rank of Captain in the Confederate Army.

Mr. Bazzell spent several months of each year in the public school at Red Sulphur Springs, Tennessee, from 1886 to 1897, and for a short time attended public school at Counce, Tennessee. He entered the Ministry in 1898, at eighteen years of age and pursued courses in Literature and Theology at home, he also took correspondence courses in Theology from Vanderbilt University.

He was a farmer, teacher and preacher, having taught at various places in Tennessee and Mississippi, he moved to Tishomingo county, Mississippi in 1911 and was pastor of the Iuka Circuit M.E. Church, South, from 1911 to 1915. He served the Wheeler Circuit from 1915 to 1917; Burnsville Circuit from 1917 to to 1919, he was pastor of Golden Circuit in 1920.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1919. Mr. Bazzell was a "lifelong Democrat" He was a member of the Iuka Lodge no. 94 and of the Burnsville Local of the Farmer's Union. He wrote several pamphlets and says that he has always tried to do his share of the work of this busy world.

On April 7, 1901 near Iuka, Mississippi, he married Nellie Jane Smith who lived in the Northern part of Tishomingo county. Mrs. Bazzell's parents and grandparents were all honest laborers and farmers, they have eight children.

Also sent to me with the above story was a newspaper clipping from the local papers which included an interview with William T. Bazzell. (below is text of clipping)

Article in "Press - Scimitar" circa 1950
Even Snakes Behave When He Preaches

From killing snakes in the pulpit to pitching fighting dogs out on their ears, - it's all in a day's work says William T. Bazzell, 70, pastor at Kossuth, Miss. Methodist Church.

Mr. Bazzell, who has preached in the northern Mississippi-West Tennessee area for 53 years, will celebrate his golden wedding anniversary with Mrs. Bazzell next May.

The snake episode took place some years back in Mt. Dresden Church in the town of that name. "I noticed that everyone all of a sudden began sitting up and looking at me," he recalls, "but nobody was listening. I didn't know whether my clothes were falling off or what..Finally one of the congretation got courage enough to stand up and say "Mr. Bazzell, there's a snake behind you."

The snake, it turned out, was right behind his head, where he had come out of a hole in the wall and was watching the preacher.

"I sort of had him charmed, I guess," says Mr. Bazzell. Seeing that the reptile was non-poisonous, he pulled it from the hole in the wall, cut off its head, and threw it out the window.

"I've never done anything remarkable though," says Mr. Bazzell, "except maybe the time I got mixed up in politics and was "sentenced" to four years in the Mississippi Legislature. I represented Tishomingo County in 1920-24."

Mr. and Mrs. Bazzell have eight children and 11 grandchildren. Mr. Bazzell's father was also a pastor. A daughter, Mrs. Cleo Jackson, lives in Memphis at 1127 James.

"I was born about five miles south of where Pickwick Dam is now." he says., "and used to go swimming a lot where it is. When I go around there now I get lost because everything is so changed." He has always preached in small churches. "I got my education mostly by taking correspondence courses and reading a lot." he says. "It was the hard way, but its a good way."

I intend to retire just a year from now. I'm slowing down and there are a lot of young men who can do the job well. I feel that I've already done my bit."