Some have referred to him as “that Frenchman who fishes and traps on the river.”
Others refer to him as an “outstanding gentlemen” who is bright and friendly.
Some have written about him as a religious novice and a medical student.
He, like his neighbor Henry Birdsall, did not leave much behind when he departed this rolling bunch of rocks that we call “Earth.”
The intention of this series of posts is to bring a lost personality back to earth. We won’t be doing any “Ghost Whispering” or table tapping. No glass orbs, no dimmed lights. Just a plain view of a man who was – – – well – – – not so plain.
As an example of his uniqueness, he had several names. Not that he couldn’t make up his mind which one he wanted to use. It was more the variety of people who could neither pronounce nor spell his name; both of which I have been repeatedly guilty of.
But that does not mean I don’t hold him in reverence. I do. And I am about to tell you why.
My first meeting with Jean Guilliaume deBesse, John Bessac, William Besse, John Basset, Lewis or Isaac Basse and all of his identities, was in the pages a “local history” book; see footnote 1.
My next meeting with him was in a census report.
Then he disappeared on me. But I tracked him down. I found him in, of all places, The Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Thank God someone wrote about him, had him published and then placed him in storage. See footnote 2.
Because I wish to get the story correct I will follow the pages of that document. However, a warning is necessary.
I have neither the patience nor desire to type the whole thing word-for-word. So I will give you my version of Jean Guilliaume deBesse. I won’t fib to you but I may throw in several embellishments.
And to save myself from embarrassment I will, from this point on, simply call him John Bessac.
So follow along as I release these posts that will tell as much of the story as I know. And if there is something I do not know, then, I will probably invent it.
Footnote 1: The book is “FROM RAFT TO RAILROAD, A History of the Town of Greene, Chenango County, New York. 1792-1867” by Mildred English Cochrane, © 1967.
Footnote 2: A copy of the catalog identification from the Library of Congress.
However, first, an introduction is necessary. I would suggest clicking on the introduction for easier reading.
In honor of the introducer:
Tomorrow we start life’s first page of Jean Giulliaume de Besse;