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Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church

A Century of Methodism

 Century of Methodism 
Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church 
1893 - 1993 
During the past one hundred years Methodism in Bassett has kept pace with the changes inherent with passing time: from a time of a rural economy with itinerant ministers to a modem industrialized economy with services adapted to the needs of an urban society whose tenets have worldwide range. 
Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church, as it is today, acclaims the dedication of its members to establish a church which meets the spiritual needs of its congregation and imparts a beauty for the glory of God. 
William Henry Atwill 
    Since our church was long called Atwill, this history will record a few statements about the man for whom it was named. 
    William Henry Atwill was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, March 2, 1848, the third child of S. B. and Jane Ann Atwill. He had train­ing from a private teacher as a young boy. When he was sixteen, he joined the ranks of Mosby's men. 
    John Singleton Mosby was for a time adjutant of General J.E. B. Stuart's 1st Virginia Cavalry. In 1863, Mosby raised and equipped a force of irregu­lars who frequently raided federal lines to take prisoners. The year was 1864 and sixteen year old Atwill was a part of Mosby's raids across Union lines to capture prisoners. On one occasion, Union forces captured Confed­erate soldiers and hung eight. Mosby quickly retaliated by hanging an equal number of soldiers.

     When Atwill was twenty-one, he converted at a meeting conducted by Rev. W. F. Bain of the Lancaster Circuit. On April 22, 1872, he was li­censed to preach at White Stone Church, Lancaster Circuit. That fall he entered Randolph-Macon College, staying two years. At the Conference in Petersburg, 1878, Bishop Pierce presiding, Atwill was ordained an elder. After serving several Circuits, he served the Calvary Charge, Danville, for four years and as Presiding Elder of Danville District for four years. It was during this time that our church, Ridgeway and Mt. Bethel became a new charge and were under the influence of Rev. Atwill.
As a pastor, Atwill was gentle in his approach, tender in his touch, and cordial in his dealings with all classes. 
     He died May 16, 1929, at the home of his son, William H., Jr., Larchmont, Norfolk, Virginia. He had served four score years, including an itinerant ministry of over fifty years.

A Century of Methodism in Bassett
1899-1900 Smith River 
Rev. Holman, then called Brother Holman entered the itinerant ministry in 1899, whereupon he was sent to a section of Patrick and Henry Counties where he was told to organize a Circuit. He was unusually successful in Bassett due in part to the influence of several people. An early record reports that the Schoolfield brothers, James, John, and Ad of Danville defrayed Rev. Holman's expenses. The brothers had lived the early years of their life in Mount Bethel and were members of that church. 
Other records report that G. W. Wade and Mrs. America Campbell contributed to the success of the mission in 1900. A revival held during this time added fourteen people to the church roll. Among the people converted in the old building were Mrs. C. C. Bassett, Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Burchfield, Mr. G. J. Penn and Mrs. E. F. Franklin. 
Also, Bassett became a part of the Smith River District instead of being listed as a misson church. November 14-22, 1900, Virginia Annual Conference held at Norfolk, Virginia. 

J. K. Holman and G. T. Kesler. 
Smith River 
Both listed under Smith River; but, in another column, only Rev. Holman is named. Church membership is listed as 50. According to District Conference reports, Brother Holman, as he was called, was a builder of churches or of repairing those in need of it. The first building owned by the Church, in 1900, was a frame structure which was moved from Oak Level to property located between Smith River and the N & W Railway. The membership must have been making plans for either building or remodeling as an early report states that "while at Bassett he (Holman) received the magnificent salary of $211.72, of which amount he gave $200 toward the building of the church. As stated earlier, church records say the Schoolfield Brothers paid the salary of the Bassett Preacher.