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John Thurston Wassom

JOHN THURSTON WASSOM, of Wytheville, has made an enviable record as an educator, is well known in a number of communities in Southwestern Virginia, and recently completed a constructive service as principal of the high school at Onancock on the eastern shore of Virginia.

Mr. Wassom was born in Carter County, Tennessee, July 21, 1877. The Wassom family originated in Germany, and members of it came to Pennsylvania in Colonial times. Mr. Wassom’s great-grandfather, John Wassom, was born in Virginia, and early moved to the frontier of the Southwest, becoming an extensive farmer in what is now Smyth County, Virginia. He helped defend the frontier against the Indians. His son, John Wassom, was born in Smyth County, Virginia, in 1800, and spent most of his life there. He was a farmer, slave owner and merchant, and died at his home near Bristol, Virginia. His wife was a Miss Grant, a native of Shallow Ford, Washington County, Virginia.

William J. Wassom, father of the educator, was born in Smyth County, Virginia, in 1846, and was reared there and in Washington County, and became a very successful farmer and stock raiser near Bristol, where he continued in business until his death in 1896. He was a Confederate soldier in the latter years of the war, participated in some of the heavy fighting around Richmond, and was in the surrender of Appomattox. He was a loyal democrat, an active worker in. the Baptist Church and a member of the Masonic fraternity. William J. Wassom married at Elizabethtown, Tennessee, Mary Pierce Buckles, who was born in Shady Valley, Virginia, in 1851, and still lives on the old homestead near Bristol. Her children were six in number: John Thurston; Ida Ruth, wife of William Shoun, a farmer and wheat grower in the State of Idaho; Charles Dederick, who is a clerk in the railway mail service living at Bristol; Lula May, with her mother; Arthur Thurman, owner and operator of the old homestead near Bristol; and William Bunyon, a farmer near Bristol.

John Thurston Wassom was reared in Washington County, Virginia, attended public school there three years, and for three years was a student in the famous preparatory school known as Carson Newman College at Jefferson City, Tennessee. He completed his academic education in Emory and Henry College at Emory, Virginia, where lie took the full four year course and graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1905. Mr. Wassom began teaching before lie finished his college education. As principal of schools he was in Washington County two years, in Smyth County two years, in Sullivan County, Tennessee four years, in Giles County, Virginia four years, and served as principal of the Wytheville High School from 1914 to 1918. In the latter year he was chosen an educational director of the United States Veterans Bureau, with headquarters at Charleston, West Virginia, and served until 1921. Mr. Wassom came to the Eastern Shore of Virginia as principal of the Onancock High School in 1921, and had charge of the high school until July, 1923. He had a staff of nine teachers there and a scholarship enrollment of 250.

Mr. Wassom has been a member of the Virginia State Teachers’ Association since it was organized. He owns a fine home and well kept grounds within the corporate limits of Wytheville, which is his permanent home. He is a democrat and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

On July 21, 1905, at Abingdon, Virginia, he married Miss Nannie Belle Jackson, daughter of Rev. Rush and Margaret (Early) Jackson, the latter a resident of Emory. Her father, who died at Abingdon, was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Mrs. Wassom is a graduate of Martha Washington College of Abingdon. They have two children, Nancy Belle, born July 18, 1906 and John Thurston, born October 23, 1913.