Humanities & Cultural
Frank Sumner Bash
The man who would write the definitive history of early Huntington County got his start as the area’s original “music man.” Born in 1859 in Roanoke, Frank Sumner Bash was a farmer and had a piano and organ business. He was a singer and choirmaster who taught and promoted music throughout the county. He headed many musical societies and performed across the country with his group, the Emerson Male Quartette.
Bash entered the world of journalism by editing a Roanoke page in the Huntington Herald. This led to an offer from the publishing company to accept the editorship of the Daily and Weekly Herald, a role he filled for nearly 17 years. He also contributed as a correspondent for metropolitan newspapers as well as for the Associated Press.
In 1904, he left the newspaper when he was elected county recorder. He was the first recorder to occupy an office in the new courthouse.
He left government life after four years. Bash went on to work in real estate, insurance, and a number of different companies and organizations, all the while still farming. He also gave time to the city library, service organizations and the First Methodist Church.
In 1914, he compiled a book, “The History of Huntington County,” a two-volume, 850-page tome written with the help of U.S. Lesh, Monroe Wiley and Frank A. Miner. The comprehensive work details the area from its geological formation through its earliest Native American inhabitants to its first settlements and organization. The 15 volumes describe Huntington County’s historical progress, its people, and its principal interests.
Bash continued to write about the history of Huntington County, interviewing county residents for a series of newspaper columns from 1922 to 1931. Many of the subjects were the county’s oldest residents who recalled their memories of their early days of Huntington County.
His columns told the stories of the people who came by wagon, on foot or on the Wabash and Erie Canal to the wilderness that would eventually become Huntington County. They were the people who voted in the first elections, cleared the land, planted the first crops and built the first roads.
Through his interviews, Bash preserved first-person accounts of Huntington County history. He talked to settlers who were acquainted with the Miami people and who saw a portion of the tribe loaded onto canal boats to be moved to Kansas. Other subjects fought in the Civil War or endured hardships at home; some helped slaves go through Huntington County on the Underground Railroad.
The columns of F.S. Bash have been restored by local historian Jean Gernand into a 550-page volume published in conjunction with the Huntington County Junior Historical Society.