Mr. I.E. Bass and family came to Lumberton, Mississippi in 1899. Shortly thereafter, he planted his first pecan trees and it wasn’t long until he was selling pecan trees and other farm products. In 1909, the first catalog was distributed by the I.E. Bass & Sons Pecan Company.
One son, I.H. Bass, had a special interest in pecans. He learned how to graft and improve the seedling pecan trees. After graduating from Tulane University in 1910, he returned to Lumberton and took an active role in the management and operation of the I.E. Bass & Sons Pecan Company.
During the years immediately following World War I, I.H. Bass bought several pecan nurseries along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Mississippi Gulf Coast was the birthplace of many of the best known pecan varieties in the industry. The Stuart variety, which has become synonymous with papershell or improved variety pecans, came from this area. Mr. Bass parlayed the varieties from these nurseries into what would become the largest pecan tree nursery in the world for the next several decades. About 1925, I.H. Bass purchased his fathers’ interest in the company and changed its name to Bass Pecan Company.
From its first catalog in 1909, Bass had been continuously increasing catalog distribution and the mail order business. In 1928, Bass Pecan Company mailed 1.5 million catalogs. By 1930, the catalogs and shipping had grown to such a volume that Lumberton got a post office to handle the increased mail from Bass Pecan Company.
The 1930’s were a difficult time for the Lumberton area. In addition to the Depression, the vast tracts of virgin pine timber had been clear cut and sawmills, that the town’s economy had been built on, left for the west coast. Mr. Bass understood the seriousness of the situation and expanded his business in every possible way to create jobs. He was in large part responsible for saving the town from economic ruin. Mr. Bass purchased large tracts of the cutover land, eventually amassing over 20,000 acres with 2,000 planted in pecan orchards. His philanthropy carried into future decades as well. He donated land for the local airport and 360 acres of his choicest land for the campus of Bass Memorial Academy, a boarding school.
The current owners, who acquired Bass in 2006, remain ever faithful to the uncompromising quality that has made Bass Pecan Company successful since 1906.