Lithuanian immigrant Nathan Bass (1886-1958) arrived in North, South Carolina about 1911 and opened a dry goods store which catered to local farmers. He traveled to New York on buying trips periodically, and in 1917 married Esther Cohen (1889-1994). They eventually had seven children: Samuel Bernard Bass (1918-1985), Herbert Bass (1920-1944), Ruth Bass Jacobs (b. 1924), Frances Bass Ginsberg (b. 1926), Marcia Bass Brody (b. 1927), Lucille Bass Lipsitz (b. 1930), and Jack (b. 1934). By 1920, their household also included Ester’s brothers, Jacob and David Cohen, as well as a live-in domestic worker, Edna Mcfadden.
Nathan expanded his business beyond North, opening stores in Wagener, St. Matthews, Saluda, and potentially Swansea and Salley. His first cousin, Nathan Stotsky, co-owned the Saluda store. By the early 1920s, the decimation to cotton crops caused by boll weevil infestations led Nathan to encourage farmers within a 50-mile range to grow sweet potatoes. He also “pledged himself to the farmers to aid in the disposition of their crops,” and was credited with being the first to ship “a solid carload of Porto [sic] Rican yams from South Carolina to the Northern markets. He also shipped other crops to markets in Baltimore and Washington. (Columbia Record, January 20, 1926). His efforts led to the moniker “progressive merchant and citizen of North.” Sometime between January and February 1926, he sold N. Bass and Company’s stock and relocated his family to Morristown, New Jersey and later Lowell, Massachusetts. On the advice of an acquaintance, Nathan brought his family back to North in 1930 and incorporated Bass Mercantile Company. He continued his work with farmers, buying their corn and peas to help them earn cash for Christmas. The store closed in 1958.