The following document was originally prepared in 1970 by Irma Ruth (Mason) Anderson. Please see also the PDF files listed at the end of the text.
by Irma Ruth M. Anderson
(Converted and Edited from PDF by Leigh R. Larson, 2005)
There were many by the name of Mason who came to America in the early colonial period. They settled in various colonies from Maine to Virginia. After reading extensively about the many different branches including the Quakers of Pennsylvania I have concluded that our line is descended from one of the Virginia families for the following reasons: first names are the same, especially Thomas, generation after generation; family names into which the Masons married are the same both in Surrey County, Virginia and Edwards County, Illinois; the family tradition of some “Pennsylvania Dutch” heritage places this line in that part of western Pennsylvania where the Germans early settled at the time when the Masons were living there; and dates fit with published records. It is possible that this family which I assume to be ours was related to George Mason of Gunston Hall who was actively interested in promoting settlement of the western frontier before the Revolution and the Illinois country after the war was over.
According to Robert M. Torrence, Francis Mason, 1584-1648, came to Virginia on the ship, John and Francis, in 1613 with his wife, Mary, and daughter Ann. He is listed in 1624 among the inhabitants of Elizabeth City, Virginia with his wife (2nd wife) Alice and son Francis born in Virginia. This was probably Alice Ganey b. 1598 who came to America in the ship, Margaret and John, in 1622. She was the mother of Col. Lemuel Mason who married Ann Sewall, daughter of Capt. Henry Seawall. Lemuel’s will was probated in Lower Norfolk County 15 Sept. 1702. He had been a vestryman, justice and burgess of that county. Their children were Elizabeth, Lemuel, George and Thomas. Thomas, in his will, refers to his “loving brother Capt. George Mason and his cousin George Newton.”
This George Mason married Phillis Hobson, daughter of Peter Hobson. In his will 13 Jan. 1710 he mentions his children: Frances, George, Abigail and Thomas. Thomas married (1) Mary Newton, daughter of Capt. Nathaniel Newton. Thomas and Mary had eight children, among whom were Col. Isaac Mason who married Catherine Harrison and who developed the iron mines of western Pennsylvania and Samuel Mason who was a daring soldier during the Revolution but afterward turned renegade and became one of the outlaws of Cave-in-the-Rocks on the Ohio River. Thomas Mason, the last of the eight children, was born 17 July, 1755. Thomas and Mary had acquired land in 1754 in Frederick County, Virginia on Mill Creek. This was probably the first step on their way west and they doubtless remained here in the vicinity of Winchester until it was safe to move into Pennsylvania and it was opened up to settlers. Here Mary Newton Mason died and Thomas married again to Elizabeth whose maiden name is not known, and by whom he had four more children. Torrence refers to sons Thomas and Joseph (by Mary Newton) as having joined General George Rogers Clark’s expedition to the Illinois country with “no further record”.
At this point we note the dates of Thomas Meason’s will written 1785, Hempfield township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and recorded 1805. (During this period the name was spelled Meason as well as Mason.) The date of his son, Thomas’s, birth 1755 and the first known date of our ancestor Thomas born 1780 in Pennsylvania (U. S. Federal Census 1850 Richland Co., Ill.). This will mentions son Thomas as being one of six children under the age of twenty-one. He also mentions an older son John. By 1805 Thomas had achieved the age of twenty-one and fulfilled the terms of his father’s will which had probably delayed its recording.
Thomas Mason came to Edwards County, Illinois sometime in 1819 from Pennsylvania. This and the year of his birth, 1780, (Federal Census, 1850) are the earliest published facts about him. His household of twelve probably travelled the new National Road across the mountains in Pennsylvania to the Ohio River, down that river to the mouth of the Wabash, then still by water to either the English settlement at Albion or to Vincennes. He settled on land that is now part of three counties - Edwards, Richland and Lawrence - not far from the road between Vincennes and St. Louis which at that time was the boundary between white settlements and Indian lands and a highway dangerous to travel because of outlaws. One hundred and fifty years later it was the exact spot of the center of population of continental United States.
Records state that Thomas came with “William Nash and his brother” so the household of twelve in the 1820 Federal Census may have included them. As Thomas was forty years old at that time it is possible that his wife was of a second marriage. For this census there were two boys under ten, George born 1810 and Thomas, born 1 March 1820; three girls under ten, one being Polly; two girls between ten and sixteen, Louisa and Sarah; one male between eighteen and twenty-six.
The land on which the Mason family settled, and which was known as Mason’s Prairie, was located about twenty-five miles southwest of Lawrenceville. It is south of the present town of Parkersburg and a few miles north of Albion where in 1818 a band of English immigrants established themselves under the leadership of a Mr. Flowers. To the east was the town of West Salem composed chiefly of German immigrants.
Fred Gerhard said in 1857 that “the most remarkable and striking feature distinguishing Illinois from other states consists in her extensive prairies”. A prairie was a luxuriant growth of grass and a natural meadow. The Mason land was composed of prairie and woods. Later when the soil was exhausted, coal and oil were discovered and today it is no longer an exclusively agricultural land. Near the present boundary line between Richland and Edwards counties a school house known as Mason’s School was built. It is no longer standing. Not far from the highway between Parkersburg and Albion lies the Mason farm cemetery.
There is little information available on the first Mason family to arrive in Illinois. Thomas served as justice of the Peace in Edwards County and in Lawrence County after that county was separated from Edwards in 1821. The following information was obtained from Bible records, Federal Census and Marriage Records of Lawrence and Richland Counties:
Sarah born 1805 in Pa. married Moses Johnson.
Louisa born ca. 1807 in Pa. married Robert Thread 5 April 1830.
George born 4 Sept. 1810 in Pa. married Emily Parker 7 Jan. 1832.
Mary (Polly) b. ca. 1812 married James H. Parker 14 July 1832.
Hannah married Oliver W. Phelps 4 Jan. 1823.
Thomas born 1 March 1820 married 1) Dicy Jones 30 Dec. 1841; 2) Almira Bradshaw Shannon 5 Aug. 1850.
Lydia born 1824 married Reuben Selby 22 April 1839.
John born 4 May 1829 married Catharine Jane Hay 3 May 1859.
On 1 Sept. 1829 Thomas Mason married Elizabeth Brander (Lawrence Co. File Box M166). It is logical to assume that John’s mother died in childbirth and that he married soon after to have a mother for his household of children.
On record at the Palatine, Illinois, Land Office is the purchase of two parcels of land by Thomas Mason of Lawrence County and one by George Mason of the same county. Because of the change in county boundaries the Census records for these families are found in Edwards County for 1820 and 1830; in Lawrence County for 1840; in Richland County for 1850. In the latter Thomas is seventy years old, his wife Elizabeth, 64. Living with them is Reuben Mason, age 20, Sarah Patterson, age 22, and Franklin Patterson, age 4. No further record of Thomas appears in the census of these counties.
Thomas Mason, born 1 March 1820, grew up in that period of Illinois history that saw the state expanding into Indian lands, increasing population and developing politically as a significant part of the western frontier. Many from the slave states (Kentucky and Tennessee) were among the new settlers. Abraham Lincoln began his law career at that time.
It was also a period of religious fervor. Led by Peter Cartwright, the Methodists established themselves early in Illinois, and it was doubtless under his influence that Thomas was drawn into the ministry probably after his marriage to Dicy Jones on 30 Dec. 1841. He was twenty-one at the time and was already in possession of eighty acres of land in Richland County which had been deeded to him by his father in November of the same year. Children of this marriage were:
Shadrach R. born 12 Oct. 1842; died 29 July 1864 at Galesville, Wis.
Elijah born 17 Sept. 1844; died 7 Nov. 1925 at Washington, Ill.; married Mary Ellen Ferryman 23 Sept. 1874.
Sarah born 22 Sept. 1846.
Mahala born 9 Sept. 1848.
Thomas sold his property in 1845. Was it in preparation the itinerant ministry?
Following the record of the birth of Mahala in the family Bible there is the simple statement “Dicy Mason, wife of Thomas Mason, died” - no date, but it was probably 1849 or early 1850 for the next entry is the marriage of Thomas Mason to Almira Shannon on Aug. 5, 1850.
Almira Shannon (nee Bradshaw) was a widow with probably two small children. (The Bible records their death, but as their birth is not given and the dates do not fit, this assumption is made.) She came into the motherless Mason family of four children all under eight years of age. The next ten years of their married life saw six children born to them, five of whom died in infancy including still-born twins, and also the deaths of the two other children.
When the family moved to Richland County, Wisconsin in 1857 it consisted of Thomas’s four children by his first marriage. Margaret was born 2 April 1858. James Eddy Mason was born 1 March 1861 and lived to be ninety-four years, eight months and eighteen days old but Margaret died before her eighth birthday.
Almira Bradshaw was the daughter of James Bradshaw and Matilda Frances McMackin and was born in Wayne County, Illinois on 4 Sept. 1829. No record of her marriage to Mr. Shannon has been found as early Wayne County records were destroyed by fire. Her photographs show a calm, poised and thoughtful person. That she was deeply spiritual and inspired affection from relatives and friends alike is evidenced by her autograph album which was inscribed by many during the latter years of her life when she visited relatives in Illinois, Indiana and Kansas. These inscriptions are revealing in showing the mind and thought of those with whom she was associated. The album was a gift from R. H. Burns on Dec. 25, 1888. Excerpts from it follow:
Mrs. Walser, Dear Friend: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Your friend,
R. H. Burns.
Mount Erie, Ill., April the 23, 1889
Dear Sister: How I would love to see you once more in this life but if not permitted to meet on earth lets strive for to gain a home in that blest land where our loved ones await us. Your loving sister,
Dear Mother: We are all drifting into tomorrow. Today with us will be over. May we meet where the sunrise of Heaven Dawns clear on that beautiful Shore.
Amboy, Kan. 11/9, 1890
Dear Mother: We may write our names in albums, We may trace them in the sand, We may chisle them in marble With a firm and steady hand But the pages soon are sullied Soon each name will fade away And each moment will crumble As all earthly things decay. But my Mother there is an album Filled with leaves of snowy white Where no names are ever tarnished And each page is ever bright. In the book of Life (God’s album) Where our Loved are penned with care And may we an unbroken family Find our names recorded there. The sentiments of your Affectionate Son. J. E. Mason
Richland Center, Mch 17th 89
Dear Sister: The voyage of life with you no doubt has been dotted with many trials and heartaches, but when you contemplate the great future and the preparations our Savior has made for our eternal happiness, and that the greater half of our family are now safely housed within the veil watching and waiting our coming may you with the poet be able to sing: “My hardest trials are are past, my triumphs have begun.”
Your brother, I. W. Bradshaw
Amboy, Kansas Nov. 9th, 1890
Dear Mother, That your last days may be your best and that you may be rewarded for all the good you have done here, is the wish of your daughter. Viola Mason
Mount Erie, Ill. April 22, 89
Dear Aunt: Drop a pearl in memory’s casket for me. Your Loveling Niece, Mamie B. Yohe
Indianapolis, Ind. Aug. 28, 92
Dear Sister: Once more we meet on Earth happy is the thought Sad will be the Farewell O may we meet again if not on earth O may we meet in Heaven.
Woodstock, Wis. Sep. the 4th 1894
Dear Friend Sister Walser: May this your birthday be a happy day and a day to be remembered by each of us and may we so live that we can meet on that heavenly shore where parting is no more is the sincere wish of
your Friend Mary R. Mick
John Mason, brother of Thomas, appears to have been the first of the family to penetrate the Frontier in Wisconsin which at that time lay beyond the Wisconsin River in the forests and wooded hills of Richland County. Deeds indicate that he was buying land there in the summer of 1856. By 1857 “John Mason of Edwards Co., Ill.” was acting for relatives. When Thomas arrived to make his home in the Town of Henrietta, Village of Woodstock he carried with him the Power of Attorney for John which was signed by Milton Satterlee and Reuben Selby (a brother-in-law) as witnesses. His wife’s brother-in-law, Henry Travers, came the same year and settled on Sec. 30, Town of Henrietta. Reuben Selby had entered 160 acres on Sec. 36, Town of Bloom in 1854 where he became the first wagon maker. So the Masons were surrounded by relatives and friends.
At this time Thomas Mason was a “local preacher” of the Methodist Episcopal Church but later he joined the Conference as a regular preacher and was assigned a circuit. An organization was effected under his leadership as “class leader”‘ and was known as the East Pine Class. Later in the year he was sent to Salem, La Crosse County for a year, then to Mendota for Two years, two years at Augusta, Eau Clair County and finally to Galesville in Trempeleau County.
It was from Galesville that he enlisted in the Union forces on 14 Aug. 1862 and was assigned to Co. D, 14th Reg. Wisconsin Infantry on 5 Sept. 1862. He was killed in action at the Battle of Corinth less than a month later on 3 Oct. 1862. This brigade had been assigned to the 6th Division commanded by General McArthur which moved to the support of the Federal forces at Corinth. After several weeks of reconnoitering it was ordered to the east side of luka. Companies B and D of the 14th were thrown out as skirmishers. After rejoining their division, the entire division was ordered to Corinth which they entered on Sept. 21st. The report of the Adjutant General reads “A stand was made here, and the battle of Corinth commenced. Our regiment occupied the post of honor, the most advanced position of the line of battle, directly across the road upon which the enemy must advance, and supporting the First Minnesota Battery, with orders to hold the position at all hazards, and that, too, without being reinforced. From nine in the morning, until one in the afternoon, they were exposed to a strong cross fire from the enemy’s advanced lines, and retired only when - flanked on both sides - the enemy charged upon them in column. Their loss, in this battle, amounted to ninety-eight killed, wounded, and missing. The following extract from the official report of Col. Oliver, commanding the brigade, finds an appropriate place in their record: Col. Hancock and his regiment, the 14th Wis. Vols. there was no discount on, always steady, cool and vigorous. This regiment was the one to rely upon in any emergency. Though suffering more loss than any other regiment in the command, they maintained their lines, and delivered their fire, with all the precision and coolness, which could have been maintained upon drill!”
Thomas Mason’s service record indicates that he served as a private but undoubtedly he anticipated serving as a chaplain. He is buried in the trench of the unknown dead at the National Cemetery in Corinth. Both of his sons, Shadrach and Elijah, were in the same regiment with him. Shadrach was severely wounded and ultimately received a disability discharge. He died in 1864 at the age of twenty-one years and nine months and is buried in the cemetery at Galesville. Elijah served until the end of the war and later lived in Washington, Ill. where he died in 1925.
Apparently Almira Mason continued to live in Galesville after the death of her husband but no doubt there were trips back and forth to Woodstock, Richland County to visit her relatives there. Death continued to be a frequent visitor to the Mason family. Little “Maggie” only lived to be seven years old. A small stone in the Galesville cemetery indicates that she passed away 10 Jan. 1866. Sarah and Mahala, children of Thomas’s first marriage, were eighteen and sixteen at the time of his death. It appears that they may have married or returned to Illinois by this time as only James E. was with his mother when she married Henry T. Walser, a merchant and mill owner of Woodstock, on 20 Oct. 1866 and returned to that place to live. He applied for guardianship papers for James E. in 1867 but resigned that trust in 1877 when James Petitioned the Court that his uncle, Ira W. Bradshaw, be named guardian. As of that date, 23 Jan. 1878, James stated that he was the only living child of Thomas and Almira Mason. In his petition he also states that “the personal property of your petitioner now amounts to about the sum of eighteen hundred dollars ... in money and promissory notes.”
In 1866 Henry Walser and family had arrived in Woodstock, Wis., from Edwards Co., Ill., and purchased the general merchandise store there. His wife died the same year leaving him with a family of six, the youngest, Hiram H., six months older than James Mason. Again Almira assumed the responsibilities of raising two families. Another child was born to her but only the death is recorded on the tombstone in the Woodstock cemetery of Thomas Edgar, s. of H. T. and Almira Walser, Aug. 23, 1869.
James attended the district school, then the seminary in Elroy and later, the first and only high school in Richland County at that time at Sextonville. On 20 Feb. 1881 he married Viola G. Blake who had been “helping” in the home of his uncle, Ira Wayne Bradshaw. In 1948 at the age of eighty-seven James wrote his autobiography. It tells little of his family or activities other than those connected with the training and showing of horses which was a consuming interest all his life. The following is an edited copy of his autobiography with supplements from the autobiography of his son, Roy E. Mason:
“I has born near Galesville, Wisconsin, in 1861. My father was a frontier Methodist minister but enlisted at the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, 1862, losing his life at the Battle of Corinth in 1862, leaving me a War Baby. My mother married Henry T. Walser of Woodstock, Wisconsin, in Richland County when I was five years old. He had three grown boys and girls. I never heard a cross word from him; morally, a perfect man.”
“The first Christmas, one of his sons (only six months my senior) and I each received a nice little red axe for Christmas. Delighted with the axes we went out into the orchard and were cutting down dead trees, we thought. Come to find out they all looked dead in winter. So after a good scolding from my mother we did not see those axes again for some time.”
“I was always wanting a horse. Mother promised me one as most parents do. However, she never got me one. Later when I was twelve years old I bought a weanling filly from my uncle with money I earned running errands for him. I paid thirty dollars for her. I broke her to drive and to ride when she was three years old, and sold her for one hundred dollars at the same age. Father Walser had furnished the feed. He himself would never handle horses but was kind to all animals.”
“I seemed to have natural ability in handling and working horses, but when I would run into trouble, I would go to my mother for advice. She was a fine horsewoman though she never rode, being raised on a farm near Fairfield, Wayne County, Illinois. From that filly on I would buy and sell horses. I could get along with horses very well. These transactions were all in my teens.”
“My step-father Walser was considered in those days well-to-do and owned and operated a flour mill known as a grist mill. He took one-eighth toll for grinding grain, and was as honest as the day is long. Being thus occupied from early morning until late at night, we never saw much of him at the house. That being the case, it left mother with the responsibility of governing and managing the home. She made clothes for Hi and me just alike, very particular not to show any favor to me, thus preventing any gossip about a step-mother.”
“The family owned a black, stocking-legged, bald-faced gelding; a top buggy and a light one-horse wagon in which I would deliver flour for sale to the country stores, and coming home, wagon empty. I would train him to trot. I also rode him. I would race with the town boys, perhaps run a race, or then trot a race. We could beat them at either.”
“I never rode in a saddle until I was grown up, and I never had any instruction in training or riding except what I gleaned from my mother in odd moments ... I had this old family horse trained to five gaits finally. I had never seen a five gaited horse and found out later what a wonderfully easy gait was the rack. My Uncle Wayne Bradshaw owned a general merchandise store and I worked for him out-of-school days, always having a horse to ride or drive.”
“I had a little mare which was sired by a very fine horse known as Golden Charlie. This little mare could beat any of the local horses, running or trotting. I rode her one day to Richland Center, the county seat, which was fourteen miles away. On my return I came by a farm owned by the Pool boys. They had a Thoroughbred mare they were training to race. When they saw me riding by on this mare of which they had heard, nothing would do but they must test the speed of their Thoroughbred, which at first I refused, telling them I had ridden most of the day and didn’t want her to be -nervous the rest of the trip home (about ten miles). They still insisted. Finally I said I would not strip her of the saddle, nor the raincoat strapped behind the saddle, thinking that if I got beaten I’d have a good alibi. So they brought their mare out. There was a level strip along there about a quarter of a mile. I told them I wouldn’t urge my mare to do more than she wanted to do. So we lined up. I said, “Say when you are ready.” He said “Ready!” and gave his mare a tap. He finished about two lengths behind under the whip. I just kept on riding.”
“I had this mare trained to trot in about 3:20, ‘if she didn’t get excited and break’. There was a trotting horse breeder who had a half mile track. I was always telling him how well she was doing. He told me he could give me an eighth mile start and beat me with his old Fannie. I told him I would bet him five dollars, and he took me up. So the next Sunday we had the race. He passed me in the last eighth. My mare heard him coming and broke the trot! This trotting horseman’s name was Joel Tadder, Always one of the competitors at the county fair, Richland Center, Wisconsin. This was in the year 1881.”
“When we were both twenty years old, I was married to Viola G. Blake in 1881. She is the mother of our four boys and two girls who are all married and have families of their own now.”
“My wife and I for a time ran a general merchandise store in which we had a fourth class post office. Although my wife was six weeks younger than I, she was of legal age, since she was a married woman. So she was postmistress until I was twenty-one, when I could be post-master. We were doing pretty good with our store and post office, but there was very little cash involved in the trading. The farmers brought in their butter and eggs which they traded for goods, and it was not long before I had all my little capital sunk in ‘accounts due’; thereby running my business on borrowed money. In about four years I traded the business for a little eighty-acre diversified farm. Neither did this farming venture turn out so well, and, anyway, I had got the ‘Far West’ fever.” (During this period their first children arrived. They were twins, Roy E. and Ray W. born 29 Dec. 1881 and Chester Arthur born 11 April, 1883.)
“My friend, Edgar Simmons had two brothers and a sister all in Wyoming. They had a horse ranch twenty miles from Trabine on the south fork of Crazy Woman Creek. I decided to leave my family on the farm and go out there with him to look things over. We bought our tickets to the Golden Gate, California, for twenty-eight dollars, while the fare to Cheyenne was $31.00, being cut rates to California. Had we gone on to California we would have gotten a rebate of $13.00. However, we got off at Cheyenne arriving there in April. There we outfitted ourselves to make the three hundred mile trip north to his brother’s ranch which was located north of the Hard Winter Davis Ranch on the Powder River. The nearest post office was at Trabine, twenty miles away.”
“After a few days in Cheyenne we started for the ranch. We had two cow ponies for a team and riding, and a light covered wagon with tarps to cover our bed rolls, guns, etc. The second day out one of the ponies balked, near an old freighter, fortunately, who had an extra mule which he sold to us for seventeen dollars. We worked the mule with the good cow pony which left the other for scouting around and chasing antelopes. I really wanted to take the balkiness out of that cow pony but my partner thought I might only make him worse, so I didn’t insist since I wanted to avoid disagreement.”
“The third day out was stormy and it began to snow. We made early camp that night, spreading the tarp out, making the bed rolls on one end of it, and then pulling the other half up over our heads. In the morning I reached for my boots and found them half full of snow, which taught me to double my boots over, laying the boots flat with the tops under so that rain or snow couldn’t get in. We were very evidently ‘tender-feet’.”
“Reaching our destination the afternoon of the tenth day, we met the Simmons. Charlie Simmons was mounted on a cow pony. He said to me, ‘I was just going over the hill there to pack in an antelope I killed, I’ll saddle another pony if you want to go along.’ I said ‘0.K.’ So we brought it in, stopping at a little log stable. He opened the door and there were two other antelope hung up. I learned to eat antelope three times a day and like it.’’
“Well, I stayed at the Simmons’ about a week, getting pointers on how to be a cowboy, and roping a few fence posts and horses. Wyoming at that time was wide open western land; no fences. Stage stations were about thirty miles apart and were the only settlements aside from the big cow and horse ranches.”
“One day Charlie and I rode over to a wide place in the road to meet a superintendent of the Powder River Cattle Company. This man was gathering an outfit to work on the round-up which was to collect three herds of three thousand each. I went with the third herd on the trail to the Northwest Territory of Canada. This was in April, 1886. I was twenty-five years old, about as tall as I am now, five feet eleven and a half inches, and my weight was only about a hundred and thirty, due to my finicky eating, although I was a bear on pies and cakes. But it wasn’t long before I could take my tin plate up to the cook wagon and load up with any mulligan they dished out. And, of course, we were all sleeping in the open.”
“I’ve missed telling you about my first experience riding as a tenderfoot. The superintendent had told me, ‘If you want a job, I’ll take you on. Get your bed roll. We pay forty dollars a month. We start from here at 1:00 P.M. to get where our horses are rounded up.”
“This was a big English outfit owning several brands among them the ‘V-V’ and the ‘76’. We arrived at the rendezvous at dark. I thought we had traveled about forty miles. At any rate I had tried to find a soft place in my saddle without avail. The next morning we rolled out early for ‘come and get it’. Then to the corrals, all hands roping out their broncs. I asked the foreman what horse I should ride. I told him I didn’t want a bad horse yet. He said, ‘Go in there and pick you out a good one.’ “
“By this time the riders had all roped theirs out and were sitting on their horses watching this tenderfoot do his stuff. Well, in the corral I watched them go round and round all excited. Finally I spotted a black, bald-faced, stocking- legged horse like our old family horse. I threw my rope. It landed where the horse had been. Finally one of the boys came up and asked which one I wanted, he would help me out (which would have been an insult to an old cowboy). As I pointed out my choice I saw him wink at the other boys, and as his rope tightened on this horse he snorted and reared and appeared to be quite a bronc. I walked up to him, slipped my rope on, and taking the other off, led him up to my saddle outside the corral. I put the bridle on him after some resistance, got the saddle blanket, easing up to him gently. When I slipped it up on his back, he gave a big snort and buck and off it went.”
“They saw I couldn’t handle him alone, so this fellow offered his help. He said, ‘You will have to blind-fold him, Partner.’ I took out my red bandana and tied it across his eyes. Then he stood pretty well. I had noticed that my partner was careful in pulling the front cinch, and when he got the ladigo through the rings on the hind cinch, he gave it a smart pull and the bronc went into the air bucking. Then I remembered Charle’s warning. He had said, ‘When your bronc wants to buck before you mount, let him out to the end of your rope. When he quits perhaps he won’t buck when you get on him. ‘ “
“So this bronc bucked around and quit right in the middle of a little brook. Thinks I to myself, ‘I’ll ride him here, or I’ll quit here. ‘ I coiled my rope up to the horse and mounted, holding his head up. We rode out and joined the other riders, the buck all out of him as long as I held his head up. A horse has to have his head to do a good job of bucking.”
“Each rider usually has eight or ten horses in his riding string, changing his horse at noon and also at night for night-herding. I rode this bronc that I had the trouble with more often than his turn in order to keep him in hand, and then I got his back sore, so I didn’t rope him out for a couple of weeks. Finally, one day at noon, he looked all right to me, so I roped him, pulling him up to my saddle. He was as snorty as before. While I had some trouble and delay in mounting the other boys had ridden off. I was finally mounted, put my heels to him to catch up, and he gave me some ride, bucking. However, by this time I didn’t mind. He was a good bronc from then on.”
“We commenced rounding up the cattle for the first herd of three thousand head. This was in the territory north of the Powder River. Along in July we finished the third herd with which I went, crossing the Tongue River, the Rosebud Mountains, and down into the Little Big Horn Valley where stands Custer’s monument of the terrible massacre of his soldiers. If I am not mistaken, the massacre was in 1876 on the Crow Reservation. While there we left the remains of a fat two-year old beef for the Indians after we had taken the choice parts for our outfit. Such a gesture encouraged the Indians’ good-will. “
“We naturally had to swim all those rivers; the Big Horn, the Little Horn, the Tongue and the Yellowstone, the latter of which was the north boundary of the Crow Reservation. One of our boys was drowned in crossing the Big Horn. We called him ‘Red from Texas’. We never did know what actually happened to ‘Red’. The foreman had directed Red and another cowboy to swim out in the stream to an island to gather in two or three head there. The other cowboy swam his horse over without looking back until arriving at the island, and when he did, all he could see was that Red was off his horse and only his head was showing in the rapid current. Red’s horse had been tired and he really should have changed horses before going in. All that we knew was that he was off and unable to swim. We searched the river for some miles without success and finally ‘abandoned the project. I inscribed the facts of his drowning on the lid of a plug tobacco box and left it by the river nailed to a tree. We had to go on.”
“We were nearly half a day getting the herd to go across the swift waters of the Yellowstone River. As soon as the leaders struck the rapid current, they would turn, back, causing the entire herd to ‘mill’ around and around in the water. The foreman finally persuaded two Indian bucks to swim in with the herd on their cayuses, one on the down-stream side, the other on the up-stream, and to slip from their horses as the lead steers hit the current, grab their horns and point them across the river so they couldn’t turn back. This was at Custer, Montana where I quit the outfit and bought a ticket home to Woodstock, Wisconsin.”
“The fall of 1887 I took a logging team up in northern Wisconsin to team in a logging camp. They used big logging bobsleds to haul the logs out of the pine forests, landing them on the ice in a mill pond which was adjacent to the saw mill. They used oxen to draw the logs out of the forest to loading skids. The ice on that pool would freeze three and four feet thick. I well remember the sixteenth day of January, 1888. The thermometer was down to sixty below zero. It was usually thirty-five to forty-five degrees all winter; no wind or even a breeze, making it possible for men to work every day. Before the Spring thaw I returned home.”
“In April, 1888, I started west again with my faithful logging team hitched to my covered wagon, this time taking my wife and four boys. Thomas Mason, whom so many horse owners know today, was then five months old. I had made a cupboard to fit in the hind end of the wagon box with a door hinged at the bottom. When opened, it answered for a table with one leg to support it. Our outfit was old ‘round-up’ style, with the water keg on the side of the wagon box. We made camp over night at farm houses, and over Sundays.”
(Such a rig as we traveled in was commonly known as a “prairie schooner”. It consisted of an ordinary wagon with top, side boards and 4 bows attached on top and an equal distance apart over which was stretched a heavy white canvas, leaving an opening at the front where the driver was seated; the corners were drawn together at the rear which made a complete enclosure when desired ... We also carried a small sheet-iron stove, and at meal time wherever we happened to be, my father would first place this stove at a convenient place on the ground, and after starting a fire in it would open the cupboard, secure a pail of water for mother to begin dinner with and then unhitch and feed the horses ...
The route chosen was to Richland Center thence crossing the Mississippi River at Dubuque to Des Moines and Grinnel, Iowa and across the Missouri River at Nebraska City and Beatrice, Neb., thence into Kansas thru Republic, Jewel and Rooks County where on June 7th just at noon we arrived at the home of one W. P. Baker whose farm adjoined that of the one we were to settle on and make our future home and possible fortune ...) - R. E. M.
“We got along fine until nearing Grinnell, Iowa, on a Saturday. I failed to persuade any of three or four places to let us camp over Sunday. Arriving at another farm, I approached the lady standing in the door and stated that we would like to camp there with her over Sunday, put my team in the barn, my wife and baby in the house, and the rest of us would sleep in the tent. She said, ‘Mister, we used to do that, but so many times they seemed to be color blind, and took things with them that belonged to us. So we don’t keep anybody anymore. My husband is out in the barnyard. You had better see him.’ “
“I went out to the barn and found him among fine cattle and horses. He seemed easy to approach. I stated my wants and he immediately told me the same story, However, I didn’t give up and complimented him on his fine stock, etc. Finally he said, ‘You don’t look too bad. I’ll take a chance on you. Put your team in the barn. I’ll show your wife into the house.’
“We had a lovely time there. They were about our age, loved music, and so did we, I having been leader of our home band for seven years (I played E flat cornet); also I had been choir master. During our stay we talked horses and cattle occasionally. I would mention what could be taught a horse, especially ill-mannered ones. I didn’t think he believed all I told him, although he did not say so.”
“Monday morning I hitched up, packed all the belongings, and as always, was careful not to take anything not ours. I left the team standing with the family all adjusted in their places while I went across the yard to where the farmer and some of his men were. Just then the stable man led out a fine two-year old Clyde stallion with a very severe bit. The man had a blacksnake whip, but the stallion was standing on his hind feet trying to get to my team. I then remarked, ‘He is not very well mannered.’ The farmer replied, ‘No. There is one horse that wouldn’t submit to your treatment.’
I had been itching to get my hands on that stallion, so was emboldened to say, ‘Get me a little rope, a clothesline, or anything. In thirty or forty minutes I’ll stand him beside the stable door, throw the rope over his back, and you can lead out your mares under his nose. He will not move.’
‘On, no,’ they replied, ‘not him. We have tried everything.’
‘Just give me a trial,’ I insisted. ‘Make me out a blow-hard before your men, if you like.’
‘Boys, can you find him a rope?’ he finally said.
They brought me one and I got my buggy whip out of the wagon. I put the rope on him, worked him around a little while, and conquered him so that he was watching me instead of me having to watch him. I then led him up to the stable door and threw the rope over his back and said, ‘Lead out your mares.”
The farmer said, ‘You better take hold of that rope.’
I said, ‘I would if necessary;’ They led their mares out. The stallion just looked at them and never moved. Then with his following me around, I stopped, facing a big watering trough. Jumping on the edge with the horse close by, I said, ‘ I think he would follow me across this water. ‘
The owner said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’
I just stepped across to the other edge and said, ‘Come here.’
The horse put one foot in the water and was coming. The man said, ‘He will do it!’
I turned the horse over to the stable man, and he asked, ‘Will he do those things for me?’
‘Yes’, I replied, ‘if you do not unconsciously teach him not to.’
I asked the farmer my bill for lodging and he answered that I owed him nothing. I then got in the wagon and we started on our way to Rooks County, Kansas, arriving there June the seventh, 1888, on a half section without improvements or water. I pitched the tent in a draw, took the wagon cover with the side extensions off, and set it on the ground together with the tent, making what we called ‘home’ in a strange land ...’’
(During this first summer, June to September, 1888 we lived in a tent located on the adjoining farm until a sod house could be built. Our tent was pitched in a small ravine or slough, so was sheltered from the strong winds that so often arise in that then dry and desolate country. My mother continued to use the sheet-iron stove for cooking purposes, and well do I remember that about twice a week she, with us four boys, would trudge off to some neighbor’s house to do the baking. My youngest brother Tommy was less than a year old and when making these trips we other boys would take turns in dragging him over the buffalo grass in mother’s tin dish pan.
This country was exceptionally level and one could see from eight to ten or fifteen miles, and in such a country a mirage was not uncommon. The soil was mostly covered with a very short, curly grass known as buffalo grass; but in the creek bottoms and occasional low lands a taller grass grew which was known as blue grass and this was often cut for wild hay. Most of the houses in those days were built with sod, obtained by plowing or breaking the uncultivated ground which would be in strips of about fourteen or sixteen inches wide and not crumple apart but remain solid. These strips would be cut into lengths of about twenty inches and being of a thickness of about two inches were then gathered by the men and in building a house were placed in about the same manner as brick is laid resulting in a building with walls about sixteen inches thick. These houses were the coolest in summer and the warmest in winter of any building known. They were usually plastered or cemented on the inside walls and then white-washed, and after a board flooring had been laid the general appearance on the inside was no different than the ordinary frame building.) - R. E. M.
“My half-brother, Elijah Mason, who lived in Washington, Illinois, had bought this half section (three hundred and twenty acres) on terms and he proposed to finish paying for the land, and if I would go on it and improve it he would go fifty-fifty with me. That looked good to me, what with all the high pressure salesmanship and advertisement, and without knowing any of the drawbacks.’’
“In the meantime I had to get work. The Union Pacific had just built a new road through this country. I succeeded in getting a job painting depots and outbuildings for two dollars a day, and I had to ride nine miles to and from work. I worked at anything to get a dollar.”
“Along in September after it had rained, I was cutting cornstalks for a neighbor about a half a mile from where I intended to build. As I was working a local man came up to me and suggested that I come over for noon lunch and get acquainted with my other neighbors. I said, ‘I am sorry, but I must keep at this job for I don’t know when I’ll get another.’
He still insisted until I gave in finally, and we started across the prairie toward where I planned to build. Seeing a crowd over that way I said, ‘I wonder what has happened!’ The man said, ‘Let’s stop over there and see.’ When we arrived I saw the joke. The crowd of neighbors was there to break the sod and lay up a sod house for me. They built that sod house up to the plate, ready for the rafters that day. That was the Western Spirit being demonstrated.
I had no money with which to buy lumber for making the doors, window frames, nor laying the floors. But one day a man came along and said he was getting out of the country. He had a corn crib and he wanted to trade the lumber in for my tent. After dickering around for awhile, we came to an agreement. My three older boys and I took the wagon and went about twelve miles to look at the crib, agreeing to take it if I liked it. We tore that corn crib down, getting enough lumber with which to finish the house. There were shale deposits in this country, and mixed with sand, it made a fine white plaster for the inside of the house. (I hauled the sand and lime and mixed them as I had seen plasterers do and proceeded to cover the inside walls. To my surprise I made a pretty good job.) Later I also built a sod stable.”
“Having been reared in Wisconsin where all farm land had first to be cleared of brush and timber, this open prairie, with its thick buffalo grass and good soil, looked fine to me. But I was completely deceived, for I knew nothing of the hot winds, hailstorms and cyclones peculiar to this area. Instead of running the country down I was determined to do my very best under the circumstances. When we arrived there everything was already burned to a crisp for lack of rain. We wondered how we should get through the winter without even a garden for food.”
“Potatoes were selling there for a dollar a bushel, if there were potatoes to be found. I heard that they were selling for twenty-five cents a bushel at Logan, Kansas about fifty miles north of us. I propositioned my neighbor, Mr. Baker, about going with me for a trip to buy potatoes. We set out with our teams and wagons and arrived at Logan to find that potatoes there were fifty cents a bushel. This was fine country with plenty of corn to be had, the team was doing well, and the trip was costing no more than to live at home with our camping out. Some would have called it a vacation. We decided to go on to Minden, Nebraska where we heard there were twenty-five-cent potatoes, or until we could find twenty-five-cent potatoes. We did find them at that price in Minden, all the potatoes we could buy, plenty of corn, pumpkins, everything you could think of. This was all settled country with good improvements, and no land to be had. I loaded up my wagon with fifty bushels of potatoes and Baker’s with forty, and we returned home after having been on the road for ten days. We reserved enough potatoes to last our families through the winter, sold the rest, and made enough profit to pay for all our potatoes and to cover the expenses of the trip. I had five sacks of shelled corn which I took to a horse-powered grinder and ground it as finely as I could. The finest was sifted out for family use, and feeding the coarse to the team we got through the winter on cornbread potatoes and water gravy.”
“That fall one of my horses got ‘loco-ed’ on the range. He was so addicted to this loco weed and acted so crazy that he was just like an alcoholic. There is no cure for loco-ed horses. One Sunday I drove my family to the school house to church, and unhitched the team there, tying each to a side of the wagon. When I came out to hitch up, there was Loco standing up in the wagon box. I untied him, touched him with the whip, and he jumped out landing on all fours. I had to do away with Loco finally even though this left me with only one horse. Others had had the same experience with loco-ed horses, I suppose, for a few had oxen teams instead of horses.”
“I sold my horse and harness and bought a fine pair of oxen. I secured some collars and hames and chains for tug-rope lines, and turned the collars and hames upside down so that they fit more like a yoke. The oxen proved a success, working them on the mower and header box in the harvest.
While I had these oxen, a neighboring minister wished to move to a new locality about sixty miles away. No one was willing to undertake the removal job for such a long distance. Someone eventually suggested that he try Mason and his team of oxen. He did ask me about it although he didn’t think much of oxen as a means of transportation. I told him that an ox could walk as fast as a horse, so why not? I was really grubbing in those days, and never turned down a job, no matter how bad. It took me two days going for the trip and two days caning home. Since my oxen were walking on hard road and not plowed ground, it was tough on their feet, and one ox went dead-lame by the time I got home.”
“Before he recovered to the extent where I could use him again, my wife wanted me to take some grain to the elevator to sell so we . could buy groceries which we needed. I was stuck without the use of this second ox. But at this time I was taking the neighbors’ cattle to herd for them since the three older boys were old enough to do the herding, the two elder being twins ten years old, the younger eight. In this herd I had a couple of young bulls, and I told my wife that I would break one of these bulls to the wagon. She objected strongly, saying I would surely kill myself one of these days with my fooling around with animals.”
“After much discussion I decided to go ahead and try. I loaded the lumber wagon with the loose, shelled corn which was left in a pile right out in the open prairie, and hitched the good ox to the wagon, bringing him up to the snubbing posts. I roped out one of the young bulls from the herd, and he was pretty snorty. Finally I got him to the wagon and put the harness on him while I had him closely snubbed to the post. With the lines in my hands I got in the wagon, let off the brake, and turned the good ox to the right. He being on the off side the young bull had to follow, gradually turning to the right on the open prairie, finally coming into the road going towards Palco where I drove onto the scales, sold the corn, bought the groceries and started home. By the time I got home the bull was broken.”
“I finally traded around and got horses again. My first gang plow consisted of a sulky plow and a walking plow. I would hitch three horses to the sulky plow, the oxen to the walking plow, while I went along behind with the walking plow. My horses were perfectly trained to the words ‘gee’, ‘haw’, ‘back’, etc. In cultivating corn and such I would seldom take down the lines.”
“After I got my team of horses I started breaking horses for people along with my farming and odd job activities which gave me extra horses to work.
(Father continued to work the same farm and occasionally leased other land nearby so we boys were required to work with him most of the time, out of school seasons, in almost the same capacity as any grown man. I recall when we were hardly large enough to sit safely on the plow or cultivator and hold the lines, we assisted him in his work on the farm when he would be using two or more teams ...
The first school I attended was in a sod house located 1/2 mile south of our farm and known as the Amboy school house - the teacher, Mr. Harley Meade. Amboy post office was mile further south ... Palco three miles north and located on the railroad.) - R. E. M.
A neighboring Easterner had a fine English Shire stallion for breeding and he had twelve head of three-and four-year old colts which had never had a halter on hut which he wanted broken. I hitched up to my lumber wagon, drove the twelve miles to his place, and put it to him that I would do his horse-breaking for him. He asked how I would ever manage since I would have to take them home with me and they were so completely wild. I told him just to get on his horse and round them up so I could rope one from the ground.
My rope settled on a big brute, and plenty wild, but after only about a half hour of working him around the rope from the ground I had him following me everywhere I moved. I tied him up to the wagon and he stood with no fighting whatsoever. With equally little trouble I selected another to go with him. We drove the twelve miles home as though they were thoroughly accustomed to being led. I broke the entire twelve to all varieties of farm equipment through working them with my team.”
“We were in Kansas for eight years and it seems to me that we suffered every manner of disaster only excluding flood. In these years I had had but two crops due to the extreme drought. My neighbors all about me blamed the weather, the eternal wind without which the prairie country never was, the hailstorms, and all the other afflictions of nature too numerous to mention. But I was getting along, doing the best I could in spite of adverse conditions, and I couldn’t see that complaining bettered things. I told my neighbors that when I began to growl as they did I would simply get out of the country.”
“This prairie wind which I mentioned, blew with such vigor at times that one had to lean against it to make any progress in walking. And conversation out doors in the wind was well-nigh impossible. We had to shout as with the very hard of hearing. So imagine what transpired when in 1893 the prairie caught fire.”
“It happened on a Sunday. We had all returned from church and had brought a neighbor with us for Sunday dinner. We saw the smoke of a prairie fire about eight or ten miles off to the west, and since the fire was travelling north with the wind we never thought it would reach our locality. But along in the afternoon about three or four o’clock the wind veered to the southeast. My stable was thatched with cane and I only just managed to get my livestock out. At that time I was keeping a Percheron stallion which a company of my neighbors and I had bought. The fire almost got the stallion and me as I brought him out of the barn last. Previous to this fire I had started to build an addition to the old sod house and had the sod wall laid up about two feet high. There being no place to tie this stallion my wife held him, she standing on the sod wall. The other stock I had put on a plowed field.”
“Every able-bodied man, woman and child fought fire and tended the burned and injured for the lives of all of us were at stake. Many men were caught in the fields, some as they were crawling through the wires of a barbed wire fence.”
“My neighbor, Mr. Scandle, and his hired man were caught in the fire while they were breaking a furrow with a team so they could set a back-fire to meet the fire coming from the northwest. The change of wind was so sudden and so strong it came upon them burning the horses so badly they had to be destroyed. Scandle wasn’t burned outside but he had inhaled the heat, burning him inwardly. His hired man whose name was Lilly and who came from Brown County, Kansas, was badly burned outwardly. His clothes were all burned except woolen underwear, shoes and gloves. They managed to get to the house, and immediately a woman was sent for me to come and help care for them. However I sent one of the boys up to Baker’s for him to come and see to the stallion as his premises were not in the fire. Then I hastened over to Scandle’s.”
“As I entered the house I saw Lilly stretched out on the floor, his face black and swollen, the backs of his gloves burned off and the palms of his hands run together with the leather so they rattled. I hurriedly went over to Scandle lying on the bed, getting up and down in great pain. He having a full beard was not disfigured. However I could do nothing to relieve him. He died about 2 A.M.
“Eventually we got the fire under control in our own immediate community by plowing furrows and setting back-fires. Thirty coffins were ordered after this fire.
I was requested to take care of the body of Scandle and in the morning I started for Plainville, seventeen miles away. It was a terrible trip, the prairie black with burned stubble which, with the wind blowing at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour, was driven into the horses faces and mine, though I had put double sideboards on the wagon box to protect me from the strong north wind. On returning I prepared the body for funeral the next day.”
“Afterwards I and some of the neighbors took turns sitting up with Lilly who could lie only on his back not daring to move one way or another else the blackened skin would slip off. He lay that way for weeks, improving every day, finally recovering so he could walk around, then going back home and securing surgical relief by grafting flesh on his ear rims, nose, lips and eye lids, so that finally he looked nearly as good as new.”
“Just to show how the elements conspired against man at that time, I want to tell you about three different crops which I planted on the same section of ground in the course of one year. I had planted winter wheat. Along in April, when it was nice and green, about a foot high and already jointed, there came a frost, killing it to the ground. A frost or freeze does not ordinarily kill winter wheat before it is jointed; after jointing, it does.”
“I turned this winter wheat under, prepared the ground and drilled in barley with a good drill. Because the ground was so well prepared it seemed as though every grain grew, and by June it was rank and green and also about a foot high. Then the hot winds began to blow and cooked this barley until it rattled. I was pretty badly discouraged, but I thought I would try another crop - broom corn, after turning the barley under and preparing the ground to a good seed bed. Again every grain seemed to grow, making a wonderful stand. I cultivated this crop thoroughly and it grew rank and fast until along in September I could ride into the corn on a good sized horse and just reach the top of the stalks. Again the hot winds began to blow and cooked all but the most forward stalks. I harvested these, threshing the seeds off the brush on a home-made cylinder that I had put nails in to strip the seed from the brush. After stripping the seed, I picked out the best brush and had a bailer come and bail it. I sold it, but disremember what I got, or how much of it there was.”
“The next season I leased a hundred and sixty acres three miles from home and sowed it to wheat in the fall. I also had a hundred and sixty acres at. home, sown to wheat and planted to corn, all of which looked fine up until June. On a Sunday I inspected the three miles from home acreage and decided to start harvesting that in the, morning thinking that I was going to have a fine crop. However that evening we had a heavy hail storm which beat the grain into the ground, but the storm did not touch my crops at home, and I thought I would get along with these. But in August the winds dried that up.”
“I was completely discouraged and, at last, decided to leave Kansas. At this time I didn’t have anything to turn into cash. I owed six hundred dollars in small amounts to several different persons. But I was determined to have a sale of everything we had and go to Washington where an uncle of mine had settled after leaving Wisconsin. My folks in Washington knew what hard times we were having in Kansas. I saw everyone to whom I owed money and told them my plans, promising that after the sale I would pay them as far as the receipts of the sale would go, and if there were not enough to satisfy my creditors, I would send them the balance from Washington as soon as I could get it. Everyone said, ‘0.K. Mason. I wish I could get away.’”
“I traded around until I secured three mules to take us to Washington. I still had some young cattle, three half-blood Percheron colts, household goods, farming implements, etc., but even this was short of my debts. After the sale we sent the boys to our neighbors, the Bakers, to stay while my wife and I went to Plainville seventeen miles east to sell the rest of our household goods, and to pay up as I was able, from notes received at the sale and a little cash. We returned from Plainville late that night after having sold everything with the exception only of our bedding and things we needed for traveling. We made our bed on the floor. I investigated our capital and told my wife, ‘We can’t possibly go to Washington, nor any place else. I’ve only two dollars left.’ ”
“There was not a chance of getting work there, nor on the way if we did leave. However, I kept preparing for the trip, thinking that I could arrange it in some way. In the meantime, the boys came down from the Bakers’ with the mail and among the letters one was from Washington. I opened that first and found a money order for a hundred dollars with a letter saying to use the money to get out of Kansas, or if I was not able to leave, to return it. I well remember how broken-up I was. All I could say was, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow!’”
“Soon after, while I was working on my wagon, a Mr. Mickey from Plainville drove up, passing the time of day. He said, ‘I see you are taking three mules. I think you should let me have one of them. I’ll sell it and after taking out the thirty dollars you owe me, I’ll send anything left to you.” This was another blow since I had already seen him and he had said It was all right to pay later. We argued some time ‘good-naturedly’. Finally I said, ‘You go over to the Bakers’ and Charlie Mead’s stating your proposition to them, and whether they agree with you or not, I’ll do as they decide.’ In about an hour Mickey came back hailing me and said, ‘O.K., Mason. When you get the money, send it to me.’ That was a great relief to me.”
“We left Kansas in September (August) 1896 with my Hundred and two dollars to pay expenses, and our only possessions provisions enough for the trip. On leaving the old homestead, the first forenoon we came to a blacksmith’s shop where I had to have my mules shod. We camped there for the night.. The next morning we were off on our trek to Washington, going through western Kansas and crossing the Colorado line. After days of travelling we came to where we could see the first mountains and camped near Greeley, Colo. near an old Kansas neighbor who was a son-in-law of Mr. Scandle who was burned in the prairie fire.
From there we went on to Cheyenne and across the Rockies, camping at the top one night. We boiled potatoes for our meal, and I mean boil, boil, boil, but they would not cook at that altitude. After crossing the Rockies we came down to Laramie on the old Freighters’ Trail to Fort Steel. From Laramie we would be crossing the Great Desert. Everyone discouraged me from making this trip across the desert. We stayed there a day or two trying to make up our minds what to do. I finally decided that I would not have my wife and baby make the trip, and I bought a train ticket to take them to Fairfield, Washington, where my uncle was. The boys and I were going to make the trip, but the more I thought about it the more I was convinced that we should not try, so I set about disposing of my outfit in order to buy tickets for the rest of us. I was offered only a hundred dollars for my team and outfit. Well, I hitched up after buying a few supplies for camping out, and the boys and I started through the town. We were going to try it anyway. But we met the fellow who had made me the offer, and suddenly, I said, “You can have this outfit.” He said, “O.K.”
We packed our belongings that we wanted to take along and bought our tickets for Fairfield. Thus we were starting a new life with nothing but the clothes on our backs.
The next day after arriving there I went to work for my step-brother, Martin Walser, who bought and sold grain and had a grain warehouse. The farmers would bring their sacked wheat alongside the warehouse in their wagons and if a price agreement was reached another man and I would “buck” the one hundred and forty pound sacks into the warehouse. During the winter when there was less grain bought and sold, my step-brother kept me on while I did his bookkeeping and bucked the grain, by myself. Well, I got to be pretty husky with this good hard work, plenty of fine food and the good environment.
“I got along with my neighbors in Fairfield and liked them fine. One merchant, by the name of Coy, who owned a hardware store in the town, had a hundred and sixty acres of land two miles away. Eighty acres of this land was sown to winter wheat, but there had been but little snow that winter and he was sure that his wheat was frozen out. He offered me this wheat crop as it stood providing that ‘I would prepare and plant the other eighty acres with winter wheat for him. On this deal he also offered me three horses, a cow, and farm implements, and the whole thing was to cost me three hundred dollars. I told him I didn’t have any cash money, but would think it over if he would allow me to pay the money out of proceeds of the wheat harvest. He said that he had noticed me working around that winter, and he thought he; would take a chance on me. I asked the advice of my folks and other neighbors around, and without exception, they all discouraged me. But I am a great one for asking advice and finally doing what I myself think I should.”
“In spite of everyone I made the deal in the spring. While the ground was still hard and frozen I cultivated the wheat with a harrow. It proved to be a rather thin stand, but what grew produced a very heavy, well-filled head of grain. I went ahead and cultivated and sowed the other eighty acres in winter wheat for Coy. I harvested my own wheat and sold it at the warehouse for eight hundred dollars. All it had cost me was thirty days labor of myself and boys, and my team. This was the first real break that I got since establishing my own family. The year was 1897 and I was thirty-six years old. Thus I was able to pay all my previous debts within two years, including my Kansas friends whom I owed.”
“After this harvest I rented one hundred and sixty acres six miles from Fairfield in Rock Creek Valley, and we moved out there. With my three-horse team and the farm implements I had bought from Mr. Coy I started farming for myself. Everything went along fine. Wheat was very cheap at this time. I was getting from forty to fifty cents a bushel, but I figured it was costing me only twenty five cents a bushel to raise.”
“I had farmed my one hundred and sixty acres a year when my neighbor, Mr. Coy, approached me with a proposition. He was a merchant in the town of Rockford and was also agent for the Marshall Field lands there. Marshall Field owned six hundred and forty acres of fine farm land adjoining my leased farm, and Mr. Coy farmed this for the company. He had been farming for them for several years, but he grew tired of it. He asked me one day why I did not lease this six hundred and forty acres from Marshall Field and farm it for myself. I told him that I couldn’t handle it. It would take too much of an investment for horses, implements, feed and seed. He answered me with, ‘I’ve got the feed and seed for next year, and I’ve got the horses and implements. I’ll sell it all to you on time, and you can pay me the next year after your harvest.”‘
I hated to go into debt again, but we dickered around a bit on the price. Finally I agreed to give him two thousand dollars for the whole outfit. My four boys were all good workers and could all handle horses, even the youngest, Tom, ten years old was driving four horses. I Would have three and four teams in the field at a time. And I was doing fine. I farmed this section and other leased quarters for five years. I would have some of my lands lying fallow, but my harvest was usually about a thousand acres.
“In the meantime, I was breeding my mares, and raised five or six foals while working the mares all the time. Also my neighbors were bringing their horses to me to break for farm work, and I was using them for my own farm work in their breaking. I paid most of my two thousand dollar debt the first year, and cleared it up the second. It was while I was farming here that my youngest daughter, Lela, was born in 1898. She was our last child.’’
“A banker, B. F. O’Neil, had four hundred acres of good wheat land adjoining the town-of Latah, which was forty miles south of Spokane. He wanted to lease this land because he was retiring, or rather going into politics, and of six or seven people who wanted it, he decided to let me have it. This was good land with a good house and improvements and near a high school which I appreciated as much as anything. Latah is where the boys finished high school. When I first went to Latah in 1905 I had bought eighty acres of good farm land with all good improvements, but I leased it out because I preferred to live on the O’Neil land. However, in the second year the O’Neil farm was sold, and I had to get possession of my own land and move there. Very soon I was able to sell my farm for a good profit, so I moved back into town, establishing a breeding and sales stable of pure-bred Percherons and American Saddlebred horses.”
“I had taken a trip back to Bloomington, Illinois, and bought the first Percheron stallion which I myself owned. I bought him from E. D. Hodgson, who lived at El Paso, Illinois. While there I also bought my first five-gaited Saddlebred stallion, ‘Cyclone’, registry number 1886, by Benjamin Whielwind.”
A month or so after arriving back home I received a letter from some people in New Zealand stating that they had seen this stallion at the St. Louis’ World’s Fair in 1904, and they asked a price on him. I gave them a price which they accepted, writing me that they would give shipping orders later. I was working Cyclone trying to learn the proper suggestions for the different gaits. Seemingly he was trying to help me, and he was improving while I also improved, so I decided to show him at Spokane that fall.
“Along in August I received shipping orders through their San Francisco agent from the New Zealand persons to whom I had agreed to sell Cyclone. Since they had paid no money on the deal yet, I wrote them that he was no longer for sale. I kept working him and myself, showing him later at Spokane, Walla Walla, Puyallup, the Seattle-Alaska-Yukon Exposition in 1909, Portland, Vancouver, B. C., and Winnipeg, winning every show.”
“At the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905, I one day rode Cyclone from the Exposition grounds into downtown Portland. I was riding south from the Imperial Hotel when I felt that there was a crowd following me. I stopped, and immediately all those people were crowding about me asking what kind of a horse that was. I told them he was an American Saddlebred horse, sometimes known as a Kentuckybred Saddle Horse. They wanted to know what his time was, and I replied that he had no time but was a five-gaited horse. They didn’t understand this at all so I had to explain the gaits. In the meanwhile, along came a cop and told me to move on. I did so, circling the block, only to find there was another crowd following with all the same questions to ask. Again the cop made me move on, and dispersed the crowd. This clearly shows what a nine-day wonder this type of horse was in the northwest here at that time.”
Cyclone had never had a bandage on his legs, nor worn boots. He had a natural tail set without any artificial aids having ever been applied to it. He could trot or rack at a three minute clip, and had a perfect canter and slow gait.
“At that time I was selling Percherons to breeders of draft horses, and Mr. Grey, of Pullman, Washington, was my strongest competitor in the Percheron class. Cyclone was getting so much publicity that he decided to offset that by having an American Saddlebred and rider shipped out from Missouri. He showed his new horse for the first time in Spokane. Cyclone showed rings around his horse and won first and trophy. In those days they didn’t have cash purses in the Northwest. I showed my Percherons also, usually taking second to Mr. Grey.”
“In 1908 I moved to Spokane from Latah and specialized in American Saddlebreds. I formed a partnership with Mr. John Sengfelder as ‘silent partner’, with him furnishing most of the money. We built a fine riding, boarding and training stables. This was three or four years premature though. I had about fifty applicants for fine saddle horses, hence I went down to Missouri and Illinois to buy them. In Mexico, Missouri I had my friend, Tom Bass, spot them for me. I loaded sixteen head in an express car, and included with them were five which were sired by Rex McDonald and one by Charles Read; three I had bought from Ben Middleton; all were fine saddle horses. Arriving at Spokane, we unloaded at the Fair Grounds until our new building was completed. I immediately set about contacting my prospective buyers. We sold all but four or five. Nearly everyone had an alibi; they were undecided or thinking of buying an automobile instead. This was in 1907 or 1908, at the beginning of the auto craze!”
“Captain and Agnes McDonald of Spokane had bought three head from us and were very well pleased with them. While they were wintering at Santa Barbara, Captain McDonald had been telling his friend, Colonel Perkins, of the Potter Hotel, about the Saddlebred horses we had. Upon returning home Captain McDonald rode by and insisted that I write to Colonel Perkins. He said that the colonel would buy a pair of five-gaited, combination horses. I did write him, saying that I would deliver them to him, guaranteed as represented for $2,200.00 for the pair. In his answer the colonel said that that was more than he expected to pay. Since I wanted to see California anyway, I proposed to deliver them to him for $2,000.00”.
“I shipped them by freight in a box car with a box stall at each end. They had a barrel of water and feed, and I broke up a bale of straw in each stall for bedding. We were on the road for seven days and arrived in Santa Barbara on a Sunday. Upon being unloaded the horses were no different than they were at home. On the way from the train to his well-equipped stable the colonel told me that he would like me to show the horses in the morning to some of his friends. I said, ‘Colonel, these horses should stand in their stalls, knee-deep in hay for a week to get over the motion of the train.”
‘“He still insisted and I finally gave in. Monday morning his friends were there to see them under saddle and in harness with all approving. The colonel said, ‘I would like you to show them again tomorrow morning to some more of my friends.’“
“This I did, and they seemed delighted with the two Saddlebreds which were something new to the Western Cowboy idea. Again the colonel wanted them shown to still further people the next morning. By this time, most everyone knew I had arrived with the colonel’s five-gaited horses. We had a good crowd that Wednesday. Mr. Potter, the manager of the Potter Hotel and a horse fancier, was one of the boosters. After I had shown them successfully and while I was on Tommy Mac, I rode up to Mr. Potter, dismounted, and told him to throw his leg over the horse and see how he liked him.”
‘I don’t know a thing about a five-gaited horse,’ he protested.
‘Get on him!’ I insisted, ‘and do as I suggest. The horse will do the rest.’ Mr. Potter put him in all his gaits. Getting off, he said to the colonel, ‘This one is worth the price, Colonel.’
As we were going up to the hotel together, the colonel handed me a check for two thousand dollars, saying that the horses were’ better than he expected. And Mr.. Potter said, “Mason, we invite you to be our guest at the hotel for thirty days. Look around here. We need a horseman of your calibre.” The result was that I leased the Potter Hotel stables and moved to Santa Barbara in 1911.
“At this time there was no English equipment there; all western, buggies, surries, talley-hoes, etc. I hitched saddle horses single, double, and six-in-hand to the talley-ho, taking as many as sixteen tourist passengers on the mountain drives; also I would take eight or ten tourists. out camping for a week or ten day trips in the Santa Ynez Mountains with pack horse to carry cooking utensils and bed rolls. We slept under the stars. A good part of the time I did the cooking’”
“At Santa Barbara trained, boarded, bought and sold horses. At one time I had Six Saddlebreds that I sold from our stables at Spokane; I mean that I had them as boarders. I also gave instruction in riding and driving.”
‘ “I have forgotten the name, but I well remember a man from Syracuse, New York, who came to the Potter Hotel to winter. He had very poor health although he looked hearty enough, weighed two hundred and forty pounds and was six feet in height. He told Mr. Potter that his doctor had advised him to ride a horse; medicine would never do him any good. So Mr. Potter told him to go and see Mason; that I would fix him up. He brought his wife and young daughter over one morning, and he stated his wants and condition, asking if I had a horse he could ride. I asked him if he had ever ridden much and he said, ‘I have never been on a horse, but the wife and daughter can ride well.”
‘“We showed him the horses I selected for them, and he said to saddle them’, that they would take a ride that morning. So I did, they mounted, and as they were going out I advised him not to stay out too long. They came back after riding an hour and a half. As they were dismounting I asked how they had made out, and the man said, ‘Oh, fine! Have these horses on the floor here every morning at nine o’clock. I’ll take them by the month.”
‘“I never saw them for a week. Going over to the hotel I intended to look. him up, and while in the lobby l spied him. He said, ‘Mason, this is the first time I’ve been downstairs. I guess I will have to give up riding.’
“‘Oh, no, you won’t!’ I answered. ‘You took too big a dose. Now, when you are all healed up, get on your horse and do not stay out more than twenty minutes. Ride every day, gradually staying a little longer each day.’
He said, ‘Do you think I can make it?’ “You certainly can!’
To my surprise they did just that, finally taking lunch with them. That man was as good as new in the spring when he left California.
“He came to the stables a day or so before leaving and wanted to know how much I would take for those three horses. ‘If we can make a deal I will ship them to Syracuse. You may think. I am foolish. However, we are familiar with these horses and it might take a month to find three that suit us as well.’ I sold the three horses to him and shipped them back to their home.”
“There were about twelve stables in Santa Barbara and they all had only shortlegged cowponies and western tack. Of course these old timers there were all very much interested in my eastern tack and my Saddlebreds. They said, ‘Mason, you are going to use these fine horses and flat saddles on these trails are you? What you want are cowponies and stock saddles.’“
“I said I was going to go ahead and see how I. would do with them first. And I had my horses trained to anything on these trails. There was as much difference between them and cowponies on the trail as there is between a deer and a cow. My riders all had a pleasant ride, and coming back they could ride along the beach if the tide were out.
“My experience with horses in general tells me that Saddlebred horses can do anything that other breeds can do under the saddle, and quite a bit more, including jumping. I don’t mean that just because a horse is a Saddlebred he can compete with the best of other breeds, he must also be the best of his breed.”
“While at Santa Barbara, I had a very fine high schooled horse that was sired by Forest King, exhibiting this horse on the beach on Sundays or other public days, I think was my greatest source of publicity. As Cyclone gave me publicity at Spokane and surrounding country, so Starlight King gave me and his breed publicity at Santa Barbara.”
“I also worked my saddlebreds in harness both single and double, and you can just, imagine the difference in appearance between them drawing a buggy or carriage, and the short-legged cowponies everyone else used.”
The highly trained Saddlebred show horse is not the horse for pleasure use; they usually have too much action and spirit. The same goes for Thoroughbreds. If you should select a horse for pleasure use, from either breed that had been trained to show, you certainly would be disappointed.
“Although the Thoroughbred predominates in the foundation of the Saddlebred, in regard to the Thoroughbred I had particular reference to the Thoroughbred that has been trained to race. In speaking of Thoroughbreds we mean the race horse of that particular line of breeding, not-the pure-bred Percheron, nor the pure-bred dog. I have known many Thoroughbreds, not trained to race, which have made fine, showy pleasure horses. Nevertheless I will still hand it to the Saddlebreds for being the very best of pleasure horses, for they have been in-crossed and out-crossed in their breeding for more than a hundred years to establish this one type of horse. Therefore in buying a horse. select the one that has been bred to the purpose you want to use him for.”
“There at Santa Barbara I had a very fine clientele drawn largely from the wintering tourists from the East. Among them I met many thoroughly capable horsemen, but as is always the case, I met a few who very much exaggerated their horsemanship qualifications. A man who once came to my stables wanting a horse demonstrates this last class of rider. On the strength of his statements, and always wanting a rider to be pleased with my horses and have a good ride, I gave him one of my best horses that was established in the five gaits.”
“He rode this horse up in the mountains on the trails and came down, to the beach at Montecito to return to the stables along the beach. He-didn’t know the difference between the tide being in or out, and in this case the tide was in, leaving only loose sand to be ridden in on the beach. Well, naturally, the way was home and the horse was glad and eager to return to the stables. Arriving at the stables the horse’s flanks were heaving, his nostrils were dilated, and he showed extreme signs of distress from being over-ridden. I told the man that he had over-ridden the horse. In some indignation he replied that he had not, that he had never touched whip to the horse.”
“And I said, ‘Evidently, from the condition of the horse, you never touched the reins either. This horse is ruined for at least a week or two. I shall have to lay him up with special care for that time, and I’ll have to take the chance on his being ruined entirely. This ride will cost you twenty-five dollars. At that, it is cheap considering what I may have to lose. Make a memorandum of this as a lesson to you in horsemanship.’“
“At this he went up in the air and refused to pay it, but I told him that this amount would be on his bill at the Potter Hotel. He paid it, but never returned. Fortunately, with proper care, the horse came out of it in a week or ten days. Had I, through ignorance or carelessness, given him too much water at this time or stood him in a draft, he would have been hopelessly foundered.”
“By this time all my boys were grown up, and my son, Tom, had married and gone to Idaho to farm. While there he became laid-up due to an old injury he had received from a kick on a shin bone. All the boys, while youngsters, had horses, and when Tom was following another horse too closely once, the horse ahead kicked at his, and Tom caught the kick on his leg. Tom continued to ride and handle horses, however, with not too great discomfort, but in Idaho the condition became aggravated and he was soon in a plaster cast, on crutches, and unable to farm. His case was diagnosed tuberculosis of the bone, particularly of the hip bone.”
“In my letters to him I kept insisting that he come to Santa Barbara, but he didn’t want to since he could not work. However, he finally gave in.”
I said to him, “Look here, Tom, let’s have the doctor here look at your leg. Maybe we can turn it loose.”
On the doctor’s recommendation the cast was taken off, one crutch was done away with, and Tom went on the one crutch and cane with greater ease, and seemed to do all right. He improved week by week.
“About this time I wanted to get out on a stock ranch. I met a Mr. Eddie Meiers, who was a Los Angeles brewer, He asked me how I would like to be superintendent on his ranch at Santa Suzanna.”
I told him, “I don’t know you, nor your stock ranch. How about taking me to see it?”
“Well, Mr. Meiers had a fine ranch of eight or nine hundred acres. He had a mixed herd of ordinary horses, and had purchased a Saddlebred stallion, Missouri King, from Mexico, Missouri. He also had a Percheron stallion, a jack, and a herd of milking Shorthorns. He took me around the ranch and explained the different angles of the outfit. All the supplies, hay, grain, vegetables, milk, butter and eggs were purchased off the place. This was just what I wanted; something I had experienced on my own capital. I told him I liked it fine, and he asked me how much I wanted. I said, ‘Well, how much have you been paying?’ He replied, ‘A hundred dollars a month and food.’ I said, ‘Well, I couldn’t take it for that. I’d have to have two hundred.’ He said, ‘That is too much. I’ve never paid over a hundred.’’ I said, ‘Oh, but you have. All your feed and supplies are bought off the place, and the place should produce its own. If you hire me I will manage all the different departments instead of your having a man for each one as you have now.’“
“He said he still thought this was too much money so I told him, ‘Hire me, and, if at the end of the month you are not satisfied, fire me.’ We finally agreed on that.”
He said, “Well, come on, Mason. Show me a little bit of what you can do. I’d like to see you ride Missouri King.”
“We saddled him up and I found him to be a perfectly trained, fivegaited show horse. I showed him all the gaits without a mistake even though I had never seen this horse before.”
Mr. Meiers said, “Fine, Mason! The first time I’ve ever seen him shown in all his gaits!”
The previous superintendent had been trying to produce the gaits in this horse, even using hopples. None of them knew anything about a five-gaited horse.
Mr. Meiers then took me out to look at his mares and horses, and I saw that there was ,a young stud colt about two years old running with them. I said to him, “Why, Mr. Meiers, are you letting that colt run with those mares?”
He answered, “To tell you the truth, I didn’t know I had that colt.” I told him, “He-ought to be gelded.”
He said, “Well, I’ll see if any of the boys here can do it,”
He sent someone around to find out, but none of them could handle it. I told him, “Come on, I’ll take care of that colt right now.”
Mr. Meiers had a fine operating table and in little time I had the job done. While the colt was still on the table a neighbor of Mr. Meiers came in looking for a young bay colt that had strayed from him. All of us looked around at each other. Mr. Meiers said, “I’m not really sure that this is my colt.’’
The neighbor replied, “Sure looks like mine.”
Everyone finally agreed that it must be the neighbor’s. But the man said, “That’s all right about your having gelded him. I was going to do it anyway.”
While showing me further around the place, Mr. Meiers asked me if I drank. I told him, “No, I never touch it.”
He said, “That’s fine. And if any of the boys bring anything on the place, fire them. Let’s keep this place dry.”
“As superintendent of the Meiers ranch, I proceeded to reorganize. I found one man among the crew who was really handy. I put him as flunkey or handyman, feeding, milking, etc. I purchased fifty Leghorn laying pullets, and set the handyman to making butter after securing a separator. I put another to firming to raise our own feed, and persuaded the gardener to plant a kitchen garden. After a time, we had vegetables, eggs, butter, etc., of our own raising, and also buttermilk for the boss and a few guests.”
“The Meiers Brewing Company had a novel system of publicity. Up in the canyon they had a barbecue and picnic grounds. There were three barbecue pits, each large enough to roast a, beef. It was reported that gatherings there were as high three thousand, perhaps one-time saloon keepers and bartenders, or another time Elks and their families. We had to prepare for these parties, hauling four horse loads of keg beer for each occasion.”
Mr. Meiers expressed himself as being well-pleased with his new superintendent. He and a few guests usually came out on weekends.
While with Mr. Meiers, his Saddlebred stallion proved to me to be one of the finest five-gaited horses on the Coast, and we had decided to show him at Sacramento that fall (1914). He was working fine for me. Finally, one morning near show date, after I had worked him I handed him over to a very efficient groom to put him away. I rushed on to attend to some other work. In about half an hour the groom hailed me saying, “King doesn’t seem to be just right. Come in and see what you think is wrong.”
“As soon as I saw him I suspicioned pneumonia. Looking for the cause I found he was cross-tied in a direct draft. I immediately called the vet from Los Angeles, but King died the second day. The cause: Thoughtlessly tying a hot horse in a draft.”
The fall of 1914 was the election of a Wet or Dry Administration in California. The Liquor Association informed Mr. Meier that his ranch superintendent was a Dry. They demanded that he fire him. While in his service I had never advocated my sentiments, though he approved of my being an abstainer. SO WHAT! One day he sent his brewery superintendent up to look things over as he usually did each month. He was seemingly perfectly satisfied, and complimented me on the improvements. Even so, he said, ‘Mason, I have an embarrassing duty to perform this trip.’
I told him, ‘Shoot!’
He then referred to the Liquor Association demand and said, won’t need you after today.’
I said, ‘Give me my money.’
He did this, with one month’s salary in advance.”
“In 1917, my two, daughters and their mother moved to Seattle so the girls could attend the State University. I was superintendent of the Kirtland Farm located ten miles from Medford, Oregon, on Rogue River at the foot of Pilot Rock, where it is said the Indians made their last stand.”
“I bought the foundation stock for this farm, consisting of purebred milking Shorthorns, Percherons, American Saddlebreds, Durock Jersey hogs and Rhode Island Reds. I showed ‘La Goldendrina’ in Portland - ‘not so good’. We improved this place and established Kirtland Farms for fine stock. The owners of this place were Mrs. Withington and her daughter, Mrs. Clemons, both widows. So what! In 1920 a very good friend of mine married the daughter, and they no longer needed a superintendent.”
“I went from there to Olympia, Washington, training Standardbred trotters. Among them were Maxey Bingen, Halgretta the Great, and William Grey. We raced them at Centralia, Gresham, and all the Northwest circuit, including Salem, Oregon. George Plummer of Seattle was the owner of these horses.”
“Having finished with the Plummer Stables, I went to Elizabeth town, Kentucky to ship out a couple of horses for Mr. Landsburgh, delivering to Roy Davis at Santa Monica. Afterwards I took charge of, and remodeled, his leased stable at Palo Alto, California. I didn’t get a chance to do much with horses there, so I went to Long Beach, and took over the Mason School of Training and Riding there. After doing business with a fine class of riders, I sold out to Bob Henry.”
“Later I assisted as superintendent of stables at the Ambassador Hotel Horse Show. There I met Mr. W. W. Mines, and he employed me to take charge of his stable at Altadena. Getting through, I took charge of H. B. Grandan’s stable at Monrovia, California. He had in his stable Masquerade and Miss Nuisance. I mannered Miss Nuisance so that one man could hitch her up where before it required two or three.”
“I lined up both horses in their five gaits ready to show. I showed them at San Diego first, winning with Miss Nuisance in the combination class, and with Masquerade in both five-gaited and pair classes. I showed Masquerade at Pomona, taking second to Carnation Rosebud. Masquerade had taken second at the Royal to Joanna Jones in 1926. She had been shown at the Ambassador the year before placing fourth. Mr. Grandan, not being a horseman, dispersed his stable, leaving me out as usual.”
“Having made a favorable impression at the San Diego Horse Show and through the persuasion of Mrs. Harriet Wegeforth (who, by the way, is one good sport), we bought the Balboa Stables, it having been vacated by Mr. Stewart. We equipped it with new tack and horses, nearly every horse being good enough for private use after I had mannered and bitted them to my idea of a pleasure horse. While at Balboa Park I trained and showed Mickey, Jane Allison, and a buckskin fivegaited horse, all belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Croften. I also trained and showed several for Dr. Burger, Mrs. Loomis and Pat O’Roark.”
“I sold out later in 1930 to Harry Simpson, who unfortunately had a fire that burned seventeen head of these good school horses.”
“I was out of business a few months and then I met Mr. Allen of Bonita who owned a very good jumper named Prosperity, but he was very badly spoiled for jumping. I contracted to; work Prosperity over, after which I leased the Bonita Stables including tack and eleven head of horses. That was sixteen years ago, as of this date, August 1948.”
“It seems I am always starting from scratch; I was never destined to be a wealthy man. However, I have really enjoyed my life since leaving the poverty-ridden country of western Kansas. I’ve been up and I’ve been down. Many of the very wealthy people with whom have ridden have told me many times that they would gladly exchange my good health for their wealth; I must admit that there have been times when I would have been disposed to accept.”
“Throughout my more than sixty-five years of being actively engaged in the dealing and trading of livestock, especially horses, with the public at large, I’ve always been able to sleep at night. I never wanted to feel that I would have to cross to the opposite side of the street if I should espy one of my erstwhile customers approaching. I would have made many enemies if I had resorted to sharp practices, especially among people who didn’t know too much about horses. I have had the opportunity of many good deals which really meant money to me, but I have passed them up because there might be some dissatisfaction later on. I hope that I will be pardoned for this seeming self-praise. I just want to point out that honesty is the best policy.”
“I was seventy-two years old when I started business here in Bonita, and at that time, and for many years thereafter, I admitted to no handicap in my handling of horses or my business. In my previous business ventures I had always taken advantage of my credit, thinking that by so doing I should be able to advance myself. But there was always the persistent worry of debts to be paid. Here at Bonita I operated on a cash basis, and in order to remain on the right side of the ledger, I did all my own stable work with only very occasional help. This I found a much better business operation.”
“I positively recommend that the outside of a horse is best for the inside of a man. I also claim to be able to make bad horses good, and good ones better. I have trained and gaited horses mostly that others had spoiled simply because they had not studied the nature of the horse. A horse is not naturally mean and vicious, except that after he had been severely punished and he has not understood what he was being punished for, his instincts are to protect himself, and he out-smarts the person handling him, which makes him suspicious of man. Then again, you will often find a spoiled horse that a woman can do most anything with. Why? Because a woman (wearing skirts) has never abused him.”
“You can generally judge the disposition of a horse’s master by the way the horse acts. Without patience you cannot succeed with most horses. One must be very firm and kind until your horse understands what you want him to do. The way some near-horsemen act when handling a horse, you might suspicion that the horse was deaf. You don’t know whether the man is trying to show off, or doesn’t know any better. If you are so provoked in training a horse or youngster that you’ are about to lose your patience, that is the time to put the animal in his stall and examine yourself.”
“While here at Bonita I bought quite a few horses, mostly for school work. Among them was a Quarter Horse type broken for a cowhorse. After using him for a while as a school horse I decided he might be taught to be a good. jumper and I proceeded to train him to jump. He developed into one of the best. I named him “Flying Dutchman”. While I owned him he never refused anything he was pointed into and would clear five feet as easily as a hurdle.”
“I well remember a horse brought to me from the Benson Lumber Company of San Diego. He, weighed over fifteen hundred pounds and was considered a man-killer. In fact he had kicked a man in the head and killed him. The owner told me, ‘He is the best work horse I have but the company won’t let me keep him on the job. What do you advise? I understand you breed bad horses.’
‘Yes, I do,’ I answered, ‘but I don’t care to handle these big draft horses.’
He said, ‘He kicks, strikes and bites.’
I replied, ‘It doesn’t make much difference to me what a horse does. I always start from scratch. After you first conquer the horse and win his confidence, you can teach him most anything. I mean not to conquer him by beating him up but by taking advantage of him. I’ll work him over for you.’
He was loaded in a trailer, and I started in beside him to untie him. The owner said, ‘Don’t do that! I’ll get him.’
And he did, by untying him from the outside. He asked me when he could get him and I answered, ‘In a week or ten days.’
Every misdeed this horse had, he had been beaten up for, and, because he hadn’t understood what they beat him for, he finally won out with his viciousness. I first laid him down and tied his legs so he was helpless. In that condition I petted him in the most touchy places, handled his legs and other parts that he didn’t like to have touched, until he didn’t object to anything I would do to him. I whip-broke him after letting him up, and was kind to him by petting him as a reward for doing what I asked of him. I have never handled a bad horse that responded to kindness as did this horse.’ “
“Just a warning in whip-breaking a horse - by that I don’t mean you should put a horse in a high corral and beat him up. Sure, you must touch him up sometimes quite sharply, but never touch him with the whip except on his hind parts, and then only when he is going away from you. He will soon learn which end to protect. (Nature again comes in there.)
I have in mind one fine Saddlebred mare who, after being sold to a very high-tempered party, was whipped for every little thing not knowing why she was punished, and she developed into an outlaw. I don’t often blame a horse. It is most often the rider’s fault.
In mannering a horse intended to be used as a roping horse, I think it is best not to whip-break him, for when you would dismount to tie the animal, the horse being trained to follow you, he would do the same here, whereas he should be holding the rope taut.
From these and many other systems I have used in my lifetime association with farm horses, logging horses, broncos or stock horses, heavy harness horses, Standard-breds, five-gaited horses, and jumpers, I have been fairly successful, and yet many trainers would not approve of them. However, I have used any system that proved a success.”
Subsequent to J. E. Mason’s move to Bonita, California and his wife’s move to Seattle, Washington they were divorced. He later married Maude Lavine who survived him by several years. He lived to be ninety-four years, six months old dying 14 Nov. 1955 and was buried in the Glen Abbey Cemetery, Chula Vista, Cal. Viola Mason lived with her daughter, Lela, for several years then went to make her home with Ruth, now Mrs. Arvid E. Anderson, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Business took the family east where he was connected with the American Cyanamid Company and later with the Bethlehem Steel Company settling ultimately in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Viola Mason lived to be ninety-five years, six months old dying 13 Oct. 1956. after a long illness. She is buried in the Quentin Cemetery, Quentin, Pennsylvania.
The Bradshaw family was an ancient English family prior to the Norman period and claimed to be descended from Anglo-Saxon kings. Sir John Bradshaw was in possession of the Bradshaw estate at the time of the Conquest. and his rights were confirmed by William the Conqueror.
Records of the family are found in the County of Lancashire in the Parishes of Bolton and Turton in the vicinity of Manchester. The name means “vast wood” or “broad glade”. Bradshaw Hall was situated on the south slope of Eccles Pike 1 1/2 miles from Chapel-enle-Frith. It was demolished under Henry II and rebuilt under the Tudors. Between 1600-1620 it -as entirely rebuilt.
The Bradshaws were mostly of the landed gentry and lesser nobility. Although it was an old family, records are scattered until the 1600’s when John Bradshaw came into prominence as a follower of Oliver Cromwell. He was elected Sheriff of Lancashire in 1645. Elected to Parliament, he became president and presided at the trial of Charles I. As such, he was the signer of the order for his execution. High honors and rewards came to him but his fortunes waned when he opposed Cromwell’s aggrandizement. He died in 1669 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, but with the Restoration his body was taken up along with Cromwell’s and Ireton’s and gibbeted. His property was left to his Nephew, Henry, who became owner of Marple Hall as well as Bradshaw Hall.
With the Restoration of the monarchy all branches of the family scattered to Ireland and America. Eight by that name are listed among “Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666” by George C. Greer. Their arrival in this country was between 1637 and 1656. However, it is quite possible that our line is descended from William and Elizabeth Bradshaw who lived in Priestwith Parish near Manchester in Lancashire. Their son, James, was born there in April, 1619. According to Albert Myers in “Immigration of Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania”, he went to Ireland in 1649 as a soldier and was married to Ann Patterson of Carrickfergus, daughter of Robert and Katherine Patterson on 24 October, 1657. James died 14 September, 1686 from wounds received at Drogheda in 1649. The Pattersons were from the Isle of Man. They had ten children listed in the Lurgan (Friends) Meeting records.
A Thomas Bradshaw is given in the same source as being witness to the marriage of Joshua Marsh of Drumancannon, Parish of Sego, County of Armagh, and Elizabeth Rogers. This Thomas’s will was probated in 1754 in the Diocese of Dromore. Inasmuch as this family repeated the same given names from generation to generation and a history of Pocahontas County,, West Virginia states that John and James Bradshaw came to America from Ireland it is logical to assume that their father and our ancestor, Thomas Bradshaw, belonged to this Irish branch of the family.
The first of the name in Pennsylvania were among the first settlers of Darby: Samuel and Thomas Bradshaw from Oxton, Nottingham County, England in 1682. They also were Quakers and were probably the progenitors of the Bucks County and Bedford County families.
The relationship of these families to Thomas and Margaret Bradshaw, who witnessed the will of Hume Richardson of New Londonberry, Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1740, has not been established. We next find Thomas having a warrantee of 50 acres of land in Donegal Township, Lancaster County in 1742. In the settlement of Pennsylvania there was conflict between the Scotch-Irish and German settlers which was usually resolved by the former being pushed on to the frontier while the Germans occupied the fertile farm lands. Thomas’s land was in a Scotch-Irish settlement near the Susquehanna River not far from the present city of Harrisburg, however, he did not occupy it and probably was lured on by relatives or friends to a similar settlement on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. At this time the boundary between the two states had not been established and there was conflict among the settlers. The Scotch-Irish settlement, known as the Manor of Maske; which lay at the foot of the Endless Mountains and was at the crossroads of travel “west” but at this point the migration route was mainly southwest as it wound its way to the Valley of Virginia and North Carolina, then on to Kentucky. We find that many of our ancestors stopped at this settlement for a time: the McKamies who intermarried with the Bradshaw family in Virginia; the Kentons and McGaugheys who went west through Pennsylvania; and several of the McMackin name.
All of these came from Ireland and were known as Scotch-Irish but racially they were Scotch or English who had migrated from Scotland or England to northern Ireland.’ They were Presbyterian and Calvinists for the most. part, and had been persecuted for their faith in Scotland and Ireland.. Apparently the Bradshaws were under Quaker influence. In fact, Raphe Bradshaw, a descendant of James Bradshaw of Hope, County of Lancaster, married Rachel Penn, a sister of William Penn.
Virginia records of the Thomas Bradshaw family of Augusta County Begin with the purchase of land by Thomas from Robert Rallstone 15 December 1751. It was 364 acres located on Moffett’s branch of Cathy’s River. In 1767, 150 acres was sold to James Hogshead. William Bradshaw, probably a brother, obtained a 200-acre grant of land on Back Creek above Davidson’s Survey in 1749/50. Thomas’s occupation is listed as weaver but he also served as highway surveyor. Henning’s Statutes indicates payment to him of one pound, five shillings for supplies to the militia of Augusta County in September, 1758.
It is not known how large a family Thomas had but those mentioned in his will were James, Jane and Thomas. In addition, there was John who married Isabell (Nancy) McKamie and Elinor who married Richard Mathews. Son Thomas was married July 20, 1768. Records do not give his wife’s name except as Margaret. She was probably the daughter of John McKamie who was born in 1710, the son of John McKemy who died in 1735 in Letterkenny Township, Cumberland (now Adams) County, Pennsylvania. These two families, neighbors in Pennsylvania probably made the trip together up the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to the settlement at the forks of the James River.
Thomas I made his will 22 March 1776 and it was probated 16 February 1779 in Augusta County. It reads as follows: “In the name of God, Amen. I, Thomas Bradshaw, of Augusta County, Colony of Virginia, being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be to God. Therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed ... To my dearly beloved wife, 1/3 of my plantation as long as she lives, 1 negro wench, 2 cows, her choice of my 2 mares and horses, household furniture and 1/3 of my moneys and debts. To son James, 1 negro boy named Dick; to daughter Jane and her son, Thomas, 1 negro boy; to son Thomas, all my lands and bay horse and saddle, I negro wench, Aggie, loom of tacklings, all my plantation tacklings and half of my money and debts. The rest of money and debts to be equally divided between James and Jane and what other stock I have not mentioned. Executors, son James and Thomas. Witnesses, Joseph Wright, R. Mathews, Wm. Mathews, Mary Mathews. Signed Thomas (X) Bradshaw.’’
Thomas, Junior, now Thomas, Sr., remained in Augusta County for several years but we find James on the tax list in Fayette County, Kentucky in 1787. However, Thomas is on the tax list there as of 11 January 1790, and the “Second census” of Kentucky, in 1800 shows Thomas, Sr., Thomas, James and John as living in Shelby County. James and Thomas, Sr. had sold the land in Augusta County which they had inherited from their father to John Canote on 23 August 1791. Thomas, Sr. bought land from Richard and Elizabeth Mathews in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
Thomas, Jr. of Augusta County records who was married in 1768 had a family of six when he crossed the mountains into Fayette County, Kentucky. By 1792 he was moving again farther west into the blue grass country. That year Shelby County was set off from Jefferson County and we find his purchase of 800 acres of land recorded in the Courthouse at Shelbyville on 19 March 1793. By this time his children were of marriageable age and their records are there also. His children were:
James married Sarah Coombs., daughter of William and Rebecca M. Coombs.
Sarah married William Shipman 9 July 1798.
Margaret married John Watson 12 February 1798.
Thomas married Ann McGaughey 7 August 1799. Polly married Benjamin Ashby 1 March 1808.
Ann married James Moore 9 March 1809.
Will of Thomas Bradshaw -
‘In the Name of God amen I Thomas Bradshaw of Shelby County Kentucky being weak in body but of sound disposing mind do make & Constitute this my last will & Testament in manner & form that is to say First It is my desire that after my deceased my body be buried in a decent Christean like manner at the discretion of my Executors 2ndly I Give & bequeath to my Grandson Arrington Bradshaw my farm in Shelby County Containing Two hundred and sixteen acres more or liss To have hold to him & his heirs forever and I do hereby direct that the above farm be under the management and controle of my son James Bradshaw until my said Grandson Arrington Bradshaw arrives at the age of Twenty one years then to be given up to him and I do further direct that in case my said Grandson Arington should die before he arrives at the age of Twenty one years Then & in that Event I direct my son I direct my son James Bradshaw To sell the farm above bequeathed for the best price he can get & to pay himself five hundred dollars for the truble & Expences he has been at in raising my Grandson Arington Bradshaw and the balance of the proceeds arrising from the sale of my farm to be Equally diveded amongst my children 3rdly I do hereby mansipate set free & discharge from Servitude my negro woman Liza at my death & I do hereby direct that she shall use occupy & Enjoy the cabin that was built for her on my farm together with three acres of ground adjoining the same, during her life and also to have a good cow out of my Estate for her support and mentainance. 4thly I Give & bequeath to my son James Bradshaw the service of my negro man Dick for the term of Six years from my death at the Expiration of which Term of six years I will & direct that he be set free provided he, will take care of his mother. 5thly I Give & bequeath to Sarah Shipman my riding horse Charley, to be given to her at my death -to have & to hold to her & her heirs forever. 6thly I Give & bequath to my grandson Thomas Bradshaw Watson my young Steed Horse to Have & to hold to him & his heirs forever. 7thly I Gives bequeath to my Daughter Margaret Watson my beadstead bed & furniture to have & to hold to her & their heirs forever. 8thly I Will & Direct that all my farming utentials Chest of Drawers & other: personal property not herein disposed of be sold & that all monies due me by bond or otherwise be collected by my Executors and of the same I will & direct that my Grand Daughter Mary Mariah Bradshaw receive the sum of fifty dollars the ballance after paying Just Debts & funeral Expences To be equally divided between my children. 9thly I do hereby constitute appoint my son - James Bradshaw & John Bradshaw Executors of this my last Will &’Testament hereby revoking all others by me hereafter made Declairing this & none other to be my last Will & Testament In Testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand, affixed my seal this 5th day of November 1824 “
Signed sealed acknd and delivered in presence of
Geo. W. Johnston
John W. Taylor
Thos. Bradshaw (Seal)
Shelby County Sct.
August Term 1826
A Writing purporting to be the last Will and Testament of Thomas Bradshaw decd was produced in Court whereupon George W. Johnston and John W. Taylor two of the Subscribing Witnesses to said writing being duly sworn state that said writing was signed sealed acknowledged and delivered by the said Thomas Bradshaw as and for his last Will and Testament and that they believe the sd Thos was of sound disposing mind & memory at the time of doing the same which Will is ordered to be recorded and on motion of the executors named in said Will time is given them to qualify
Att Ja S. Whitaker Clk
Our family records begin with Thomas who married Ann McGaughey. It is quite possible that he was the oldest son as he was born 10 Feb. 1772, and the custom of naming the oldest son after the father seemed to prevail in this line. Ann was born 14 Dec. 1779 in Bedford, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Arthur McGaughey who had recently moved to Shelby County. (See McGaughey Family) He was one of the first judges to preside in the new Courthouse. There were a number of Bradshaw and McGaughey families in Shelbyville. John Bradshaw from Maryland was active in the Masonic Lodge and the Methodist Church, and the first tavern was kept by John McGaughy.
In 1808 Arthur McGaughy moved on to Hardin (later Hart) County and took up land on Bacon Creek. Thomas and Ann Bradshaw followed in 1816 after selling their land on Clear Creek for $1796.35 and buying 347 acres on Bacon Creek which is a branch of the Green River not far from Bonnieville. Both Arthur and Thomas are on the tax list for 1819, but Thomas had moved on to Wayne County, Illinois to be counted there for the 1820 census. Illinois had just become a state, land was cheap, slavery was not practiced and many people with large families were moving out of Kentucky to escape the slavery system as well as to provide greater opportunities for their children. Thomas had a family of five boys and three girls, all under twenty-one when he arrived in Illinois in 1819. He entered the southeastern quarter of Section 10, Jasper township, Wayne County where he died September 18, 1823, preceding his father in Kentucky by three years. The following statement was published in reference to his wife: “...a friend to the needy, a wise counselor to those in distress, she gave comfort and relief to the afflicted within her reach. A smile of pleasure and approbation is seen to play over the countenance of men whose heads are silvered with age at the mention of her name, after ,more than half a century.” She lived to be nearly seventy-six years of age and is buried beside her husband in Posey Cemetery on the John McMackin land in Jasper township.
Thomas and Ann Bradshaw were among the first members of the Methodist Society which was organized at the home of John McMackin in 1826. Thomas and his eldest son, James, were ‘class leaders”. In 1843 James donated the land on which the first church was built. Their children attended the school taught by George Wilson near “Pigeon Roost”.
This record of the children of Thomas and Ann may be incomplete as the family scattered south, west and north as they grew to adulthood.
1. James (our ancestor) b. 3 June 1800; d. 17 Jan. 1879; married Matilda Frances McMackin, daughter of John and Polly (Borah) McMackin. (see McMackin Family)
2. Greenup b. 1810; d. 1876, married Mary A. Boze in 1837. He had fourteen children.
3. Eleanor d. 3 July 1841; married George Borah 3 June 1822 (his second wide). She had eleven children.
5. Arthur married Elizabeth Simpson, daughter of Presley and Martha (Sutherland) Simpson. He was an early Methodist Episcopal Minister and his first appointment in 1836 was to the Wabash Circuit.
7. Melvina b. 1822; d. 15 Dec. 1873; married Samuel Borah in 1841 (second, wife). She had seven children.
James Bradshaw was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky and was a young man when his parents began moving west. Although they did not remain long in Hart County and Butler County it is quite possible that there he became acquainted with the McMackin and Borah families and knew his future wife as a little girl. The latter families followed the Bradshaws a few years later in settlement in Wayne County. James was a shoemaker and was probably the mainstay of the family following his father’s death in 1823 which may have delayed his marriage to Matilda Frances McMackin in 1826 although she was only seventeen at the time of their marriage. She was born 28 May 1809 and died 14 April 1852. Both are buried in the Posey Cemetery, Jasper Township, Wayne County.
Their children were:
1. John 4 April 1827; d. 10 April 1862; married Mary Curtis.
2. Almira (our ancestor) b. 4 Sept. 1829; d. 24 May 1896; married (1) Shannon, (2) Thomas Mason 5 Aug. 1850, (3) Henry T. Walser 20 Oct.’ 1866.
3. Emaline 7 Jan. 1832; d. 5 Dec. 1876.
4. Sabrina June 1834; d. 19 March 1876; married Henry Travers 1851.
5. James Warren b. 8 May 1838; d. 19 Jan. 1909; married Mariah Elizabeth Allender.
6. Sarah Ann b. 9 Jan. 1841; d. 17 Nov. 1861.
7. William Ariton b. 1 April 1843; d. 7 July 1923; married (1) Lizzie Usey, (2) Anna Usey.
8. Ann b. 1843; d. 3 Dec. 1860.
9. Ira Wayne b. 1 Fee. 1847; d. 19 Jan. 1935; married (1) Lord Walker 23 Auk. 1870, (2) Jennies King.
The loss of Wane County records has deprived us of any certain information of Admirer’s first marriage to a Mr. Shannon, but she was only twenty-one when she married Thomas Mason. A copy of the Bible record of James E. Mason is as follows:
“Thomas Mason and Admire Shannon were married August 5, 1850. Admire Mason was born September 4, 1829
Frances Emollient Mason was born July 7, 1851
Mary Jane Mason was born June 21, 1854
John W. Mason was born May 2, 1857
James E. Mason was born March 1, 1861
Margret Mason was born April 2, 1858”
Thomas Mason died October 4, 1862
Frances Matilda Mason died October 2, 1851
Frances E. Mason died July 26, 1852
Almirah Mason buried April 10, 1843 (1853?)
Mary Jane Mason, died August 26, 1855
John W. Mason died May 18, 1857
Almira Mason lost still born twins 1860.”
(See MASON FAMILY)
This family surname probably has more variations in spelling than most of those that underwent change in the early history of our country. It is “Scotch-Irish” in origin, and in Ireland there were thirteen different forms according to the author of “Surnames of Scotland”. All were Galloway names probably derived from the Irish MacMiadhachain, son of Middhachan. In this country Delaware history cross-references with the following spellings: McMachin, McMaken, McMahen, McMechen, McMeehan, McMekin, McMicken, McMackin. In most areas of settlement the ‘k’ sound in the name was preserved from earliest times, but McMahon was more frequently found in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania and in Cumberland County, New Jersey. As to first names, there seems to be a William, James and John in every line and in every generation.
The port of entry for Scotch-Irish immigrants during the colonial period was New Castle, Delaware. From there they quickly spread out, fan-fashion, to the frontier as soon as, or before, land was available. They, were frequently squatters on Indian lands before these had been purchased from the Indians. This was true in Pennsylvania where there were several Scotch-Irish settlements. They also followed the paths of migration into the Valley of Virginia and North Carolina, and they were always in the vanguard of settlement on the frontier. However, there seems to be at least one in each family who settled in Delaware near the port of entry.
Our earliest McMechen records are found in New Castle County. William begins selling land in 1726, so-he must have arrived several years before this. He sells land to Andrew McMechen in 1734. There are twenty-five transfers of land in the name of William McMechen, father or son, in the New Castle County Court House at Wilmington, Delaware, from 1726 to 1825; fifteen for James McMechen, Sr.; five for John McMicken and five for Mary McMechen for the same period of time.
The “History of Delaware” states that Dr. William McMechen purchased three tracts’ of land on June 2, 1726: Standing Manor was one of 961-3/4 acres “on the circle” in Mill Creek Hundred. He lived in Christiana Bridge for Many years and practiced medicine there. He became owner of large tracts of land in different parts of the county. He served in the French and. Indian War as a surgeon in the Third Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment. He is also listed as an officer of the Lower Government on the Delaware, 1758-9. His son, William, also served in this conflict.
We find the service of Dr. William McMechen during the Revolutionary War in the Virginia records where he is listed as surgeon in the Third and Fourth Virginia Regiments. His pay abstracts at the National Archives indicate his appointment on October 14, 1776 and continue to October, 1779. During this period various notations have been made, such as: “In Philadelphia for medicine”, “Absent with leave”, “On furlough Christeana Bridge”, “Camp near Middlebrook”, “Camp Ramaprough”, and the last “Absent without leave”. Final pay is made November 1, 1783 in the amount of 266 pounds 9 shillings 3 pence. It is signed William McMeakin, Surg. Inf. “received full pay”.
Dr. McMechen’s name appears in the Delaware records in 1780, so perhaps we can assume that for some reason or other he returned home, or was no longer with the Virginia line. For his services he was given a military warrant in Kentucky of six thousand acres for his three years as surgeon of the Virginia line. Damages to his property in White Clay Creek Hundred, Delaware by the British army in 1777 were estimated at sixteen pounds.
At the time Dr. William McMechen and his sons were active in Delaware another William McMechan with sons, William, John and Richard was acquiring land in Frederick County, Virginia. In 1739, William McMackin was one of the petitioners to separate Frederick County from Orange County, and when it was established he became its first Justice in 1743. He died in 1749. In his will he mentions wife, Elizabeth, daughters, Agnes, Jane and Ann, and sons, William, John and Richard. It is believed that our branch of the family is descended from either William or Richard as their names, as well as a John, are found on the tax lists of Kentucky for 1790 and 1800. John, son of Judge McMachen, moved south to Guilford County, North Carolina, then west to Washington County, Tennessee. Some of his descendants eventually settled in Butler County, Kentucky where cousins had arrived by way of the Ohio River.
Although we know that John McMackin, who is listed in the 1810 Census for Butler County, is our ancestor, little is known for sure of his life up to that point. By this time he was married and had one son and three daughters, all under the age of ten. His wife was Polly Borah, born in 1787 and married to John McMackin in Frederick Parish, Virginia. (See Borah-Bohrer Family). Also in this Census is William McMackin in the same age bracket. Later census records indicate John was born between 1780 and 1790.
The area in which they settled was in Morgantown. The evidence which links the Tennessee branch with ours lies in the will of James McMackin, Greene County, Tennessee, probated 30 October 1820 in which he mentions wife, Mary and three oldest sons: Thomas, James, John. He gives them land in Butler County, Kentucky 200 acres formerly conveyed from William McMackin to James McMackin. He names three minor children: Nancy, William, Peggy and appoints his brother Thomas as executor.
The will of Thomas McMackin probated 7 February 1821 mentions wife, Sarah. He leaves son, Thomas, 126 acres; mentions William McMackin, son of James, deceased and children Andrew, John, Martha McFarland, Nancy Wilson, Mary Reed and Betsy Scruggs. Appoints Thomas McMackin, executor.
Butler County records reveal that William McMackin received pay as jailor and John as a guard for William Talbert. Both were trustees of Morgantown in 1814. Morgantown was the county seat of Butler County which had been set off from Logan County in 1810. One is intrigued by the possibilities by which three lines of McMackins managed to converge in this part of Kentucky. This was also the place where Jacob Borah took up land, and in the nearby county of Hart Thomas Bradshaw and his father-in-law, Arthur McGaughey, were established on Bacon Creek. Was it the slavery system or the fact that they all had large families that made their stay in Kentucky temporary? Or was the attraction of cheap and easily cultivable land in the newly constituted state of Illinois a factor in their being willing to. move on? How much influence did Peter Cartwright, the itinerant Methodist preacher have? His circuit included Illinois as well as Kentucky and the Bradshaws and McMackins were devout Methodists.
It seems that some of the Borahs were the first to leave Butler County travelling by boat down the Greene River to the Ohio, then down the Ohio to the Wabash, up this river to the Little Wabash to Wayne County where all eventually settled. John McMackin did not make the move until 1822. Matilda Frances, his eldest daughter, was thirteen at this time. It is probable that the family knew the Bradshaws who had already located in Wayne County and were near neighbors of the Borahs. The McMackins settled near a crab apple thicket, later called Fairfield. After a tornado blew down their house they moved to Jasper township where John lived until he died.
Items from a history of Wayne County indicate that John McMackin was the first cabinet maker of the community; that he was one of the organizers of a debating and literary society; and that he was one of the first members of the Ebenezer and Woodland churches. Descendants recall stories told about Peter Cartwright visiting in their home.
While the McMackin name is found throughout the South and West, Illinois has been the home state. for many of the descendants of Col. Warren E. McMackin and Thomas Jefferson McMackin. Salem has been their family seat since the early 1850s and has furnished the town with four mayors, one sheriff, one judge and two long-time representatives in the state legislature.
An exhaustive study of the “Bohrer-Borah-Borer Families, 17201965” by Camden Borah Meyer places our ancestor, Polly Borah, as a descendant of Abraham Bohrer who died in Frederick County, Maryland in 1779. Many immigrants to America used the above variations in spelling their name indiscriminately and there were many stories as to the origin of the family. The most likely one according to Mr. Meyer is that the first of the family which settled finally in Illinois was named John. He was born near Weurzburg, Germany in 1720. (This was found in ship records in St. Louis, Missouri). He boarded the ship at Amsterdam, the latter-part of August 1742 arriving in Philadelphia on October 12, 1742. He went to live with an aunt in Lancaster County near Mannheim staying in that county the rest of his life. He married (no knowledge of his wife) and had seven children. It is likely that this branch of the family was related to Abraham Bohrer as they visited the latter in Maryland on their way to Kentucky.
Polly Bohrer was born in 1787 in Frederick County, Virginia. She married John McMackin and they moved to Kentucky about the same time the Borahs settled in Butler County.
Abraham Bohrer had four children: John Adam of Berkeley County, Va.; John Peter of Montgomery County, Md.; John George of Washington County, Md.; Anna Maria who married Nicholas Fry and moved to North Carolina.
John George Bohrer and his wife Rosanna lived in Washington County, Md. in 1789. It is possible that Polly Borah was one of his children. The McMackin and Bohrer families lived in the same general area and it is quite probable that this Bohrer family was related to the other Borahs (descendants of Peter) who also went to Butler County, Ky. In Kentucky the name was spelled Borah. Jacob Borah was the father of eight children several, of whom moved to Wayne County, Ill. and two of them intermarried with the Bradshaw family. One became the ancestor of William E. Borah, a former Senator from the state of Idaho. I am indebted to Mr. Meyer far most of the information on this family.
As with many other Scotch and Irish names the spelling of McGaughey has seen many changes. The first spelling in America was McGaughey. A reference to the family in the Pennsylvania archives is to Maggoy. A few families spell it McGaha but by the time our family reached Illinois it was written McGahey but always pronounced with a broad a. This form is also used by a collateral line in Virginia and found in the town of McGaheysville, Virginia. Mr. Hunter of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission told me that McGuffey is also a variation of the name.
Family records state that the father of our immigrant ancestor, Charles McGaughey, 1727-1760, died in Ireland. He married Lavinia Wilson by whom he had three sons:
1. Arthur (our ancestor) b. 11 Aug. 1755; d. 23 June 1830
2. John b. 1756; d. 7 Nov. 1813
3. Thomas b. 1759; d. 20 March 1794
After Charles’s death Lavinia married George Millegan in 1761 and the family came to America. It is possible that they came with William McGaughey, age twenty, and his two brothers who settled in Delaware. William was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was the youngest of eleven children. Probably Charles was an older brother. Their parents left Scotland in 1748 because of persecution by the Church of England and went to Antrim County, Ireland where they suffered further persecution by the Roman Catholics. Immigrants -by the same name and probably related were in the Scotch-Irish colony in York (now Adams) County, Pennsylvania by 1741. Wilson families were also early settlers in this area known as the Manor of Maske. It is likely that the Millegans and McGaughey boys came to this group when they arrived in America and remained there during the early years of the Revolution. All three boys served as Rangers on the Frontier during the period 1778-1783 as well as their step-father who by this time had land in Bedford County which was situated high in the mountains west of Bedford and came to be known as Millekin’s Cove.
We find Arthur is taxed for horses and cattle in 1779 and 1783 in Bedford County but it is not until 1784 that he has a house on the tax list there., He received a warrantee of land for 100 acres on January 13, 1786. John and Thomas did not take up land until 1793. It appears that Milliken’s Cove was the sheltered spot in the mountains where the horses of the trader, Thomas Kinton, were kept. It was also near ‘Kinton’s Knob, a viewpoint high enough to see all approaches on, the trails to and from Bedford. Thomas Kinton had long since given up trading with the Indians and was no doubt living in Bedford as the first survey of that town in 1766 shows him owning two lots. At any rate his family was living there and perhaps the McGaugheys and Kintons had known each other in the Manor of Maske. Thomas died in March of 1779 and it was early in that year that Arthur McGaughey and Eleanor Kenton were married. (See KENTON FAMILY)
Arthur continued to add to his land holdings and in addition to his service in the militia became Collector of Excise in 1783 and served two terms as High Sheriff of Bedford County. Thomas McGaughey died in 1794 and Arthur was administrator of his estate. Arthur and John-sold their land in 1796 and moved to Shelbyville, Kentucky. Arthur is said to have had eleven children, only five of whom lived to maturity and four of them married while the family lived in Shelbyville. Arthur was one of the first judges to preside in the new courthouse there.
In 1808 he moved on to Hardin (Hart) County and took up land on Bacon Creek. The tax list of 1819 credits him with 1000 acres. Here again Arthur serves in a judicial capacity when Gov. Slaughter appointed him as magistrate for Hart County Feb. 6, 1819.
Arthur McGaughey, a grandson of Charles, wrote the history of the family as of 15 Nov. 1835. He records the death of his parents as follows as given in the Historical Register of Kentucky, vol. 35, p. 170:
“Lieutenant Arthur McGaughey 1755-8-11 - 1830-6-23. Married Eleanor Kenton. Died 1830-5-15.” There is some question as to the accuracy of Eleanor’s death date because of the wording of her mother’s will. Rachel Kenton made her will in 1798 in which she states “ten pounds to be given to Ann and Rachel McGaughey for their mother’s share”. By this it has been assumed that their mother was deceased as of this date.
Children of Arthur and Eleanor (Kenton) McGaughy:
1. Ann (our ancestor) b. 14 Dec. 1779 in Bedford, Pennsylvania. A few years after the family moved to Kentucky she married Thomas Bradshaw on 7 Aug. 1799. His family had arrived in Shelbyville from Augusta County, Virginia several years previously. (See BRADSHAW FAMILY)
2. Rachel b. about 1785; d. before 1826; married James Millikin in 1807.
3. Lavinia married Robert Blackwell 27 Sept. 1802. This family moved to Missouri.
4. John died at an early age.
5. Thomas died at an early age.
6. Jane married -------------- Milam 3 Sept. 1819.
7. Colonel Arthur b. 1 Apr. 1790; d. 1 Aug. 1852 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, married Julia Hume 24 Dec. 1818 in Clark County. She was born 7 Jan. 1799 and died 30 July 1852. Both died of cholera within a couple of days of each other.
I am indebted to Georgia Brakmo of Los Angeles for much of the information on lines other than mine of the McGaughey family. Her manuscript is on film in Salt Lake City at the Genealogical Library of the Mormon Church.
Tradition tells of triplets being born to a family by the name of Kenton in Ireland on March 1, 1701. It is probable that the father’s name was John Kenton. Although the name is of English origin the family is listed as being in Ireland as early as the sixteenth century.
We know the names of only two of the triplets - Mark and Thomas - and they came to America at an early age. One story tells of Mark being kidnapped and brought to Virginia to be sold to pay for passage money. Regardless of when or how these two came to America, they found relatives living in the Philadelphia area when they arrived. A Mark Kenton was one of the first lot owners of that city and another, Thomas Kenton, was living in Oxford township in Philadelphia County. Mark eventually settled in Virginia and became the father of Simon Kenton who won fame as an Indian fighter and a pioneer in Kentucky.
Thomas Kenton (our ancestor) lived for a time in the Germantown, Pennsylvania area with relatives. We have no record of his early life but as of 1737 he was trading with the Indians on the Ohio and was one of that Intrepid band of frontiersmen who carried blankets, ammunition, trinkets and probably rum to the Indians in exchange for peltry and furs. His first purchase of land was in that area where other Irish and Scotch-Irish had settled and at that time the farthest frontier in Pennsylvania. These people, fleeing from religious persecution first in Scotland, then in Ireland, were not welcomed by the Germans who had settled in the fertile southern tier of the counties of Pennsylvania, and they quickly passed through Chester and Lancaster Counties to the west bank of the Susquehanna River settling along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. They have been described as “champions of civil and religious liberty, cool, calculating, practical and hardheaded” - a type not calculated to adjust well with the German population but definitely the kind of people to open up the wilderness of the frontier. Trade with the Indians of the Ohio Valley was the opening wedge and also a profitable venture.
Thomas Kinton was issued a warrantee of land in Lancaster (now York) County on a Northern branch of Bermudian Creek. The old maps show it in Manahan township, and the road northwest from York to his place, which is, so marked, seems to end at the foot of the mountains at Trent’s Gap, a name which is not now familiar-to residents of the area. It is significant, however, as Thomas Kinton, (as the name was spelled in early records) was definitely associated with the group known as George Croghan’s Irish Traders and William Trent was Croghan’s partner. This was a choice spot for a trader as it was not far from the. Carlisle-Hanover road and its intersection with a York-Shippensburg road or path which is not shown on the road maps of today. It was-about the middle point of his trading area at that time. We find him among the petitioners for a road to be built on the west side of the Susquehanna in the vicinity of Dillsburg and York Springs to Harris’s ferry. He was associated with Simon Edgil who had a trading post at the mouth of the Juniata River.
There is record of Thomas Kinton using the Packer’s Path between Philadelphia and Fort Pitt. This followed the Indian trails through Lancaster-and York counties to Frederick, Maryland which was the crossroads of trails leading north and south and east and west. Going west it passed through Hagerstown, Maryland, up the Tuscarora or Cove Mountain by the gap west of Mercersburg. It crossed Ray’s. Hill on a diagonal line south of the present Lincoln Highway and somewhat parallel to Route 126 near Breezewood. Just west of Bedford the path crossed over Wills Mountain at Kinton’s Knob. From this summit there was a breath-taking view of the gaps of the Juniata River for a circuit of forty miles. It was a spot for Indian and white man alike to scout hostile territory ahead. Nearby was the small canoe-shaped valley of Millekin’s Cove which furnished good grazing as well as protection for the horses which a trader would need.
It was probably early in his trading venture with Simon Edgil that Thomas lived in the Scotch-Irish settlement in Paxtang and there met and married Rachel Carson, daughter of John Carson and Sarah Dickey, whose father was Moses Dickey. Both Carson and Dickey families were originally from the Highlands of Scotland but lived in northern Ireland before coming to America. Members of both families took out warrantees of land in that section of Lancaster County in the 1740s. Moses Dickey was a millwright who died 3 October 1765 and is buried in the graveyard near Elder’s Meeting House in Paxtang Township. By her father’s will Sarah was left five shillings in lieu of her share “if she had not disobeyed me in the case of her marriage” to John Carson. John was listed as a merchant in the tax list of 1740 and would thereby have, business or knowledge of the traders who crossed the river at Harris’s Ferry (Harrisburg).
The conflict known as the French and Indian War was brought on by the struggle between the French and English to gain the’ support and trade of the Indian country. Thomas Kenton was with George Croghan at Pickawillamy in 1751 when a treaty was made between the Indian tribes and the English. However, the Indians resented the encroachment of the English upon their lands and violation of treaties and tried to force them back from the frontier. They were supported in this by the French who were trying to get control of the Ohio Valley. The resulting conflict forced the settlers back to Carlisle where English forces were formed to meet the French and Indians. During this period from 1758-1764 Thomas Kinton was horse master of the York County Militia that was organized under Colonel John Armstrong with his supply headquarters in Carlisle. A wagon road was maintained between Carlisle and Bedford which was one of the frontier forts.
A story which has come down in the family was that Chief Will of the Shawnees, who had an encampment near Bedford, traded 600 acres of land for a barrel of whiskey from Thomas Kinton. It is probable that after the French and Indian War Thomas gave up his trading and decided to settle in Bedford. When the town was laid out into lots in 1766 he was assigned lots 196 and 197. He also had uncultivated land and the Kinton homestead was located at the foot of Wills Mountain, a mile or so east of Mann’s Choice. The elevation behind it is known as Kinton’s Knob. His daughter’s father-in-law, George Millegan, gave his name to Millegan’s Cove. A county history states that Thomas Kin-ton was the largest land holder when the county of Bedford was set off from Cumberland County in 1771. He also served on the first grand jury and held the office of supervisor of Bedford County.
By this time most of his family of eight children were married. He made his will in February 1777 and died in March 1779. His wife, Rachel, outlived him by 18 years. In his will he mentions he sons, John, Simon and Thomas and two of his five daughters Jean and Ann. When Rachel died in 1798 we learn that they had all married into well-established families: Nixon, Anderson, McGaughey, Rose and Adams.
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Boggess, Arthur C., Settlement of Illinois, 1778-1830. Chicago, 1908. Mason.
Bolin, Carrie Bradshaw, My Bradshaws and their Allied Families.
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Buck, Solon J., Illinois in 1818.
Butler, Thomas, comp., Bradshaw Ancestry, 2 v.
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Chalkley, Lyman, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia. 1912. 3 v.
Colonial & Revolutionary Lineages. American Historical Co., N.Y. 1940. Bradshaw.
Commager, Henry Steele, The Blue and the Gray. v.1, pp. 365-6. Mason.
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Dana, Edmund, A Description of the Bounty Lands of the State of Illinois. 1819.
Dinsmore, John Walker, The Scotch-Irish in America. 1906.
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Ellis, History of Fayette County, Pa. p. 590f. Mason.
Ely, S. M., Masons of Pennsylvania and Maryland in Col. Hist. Soc. v. 21, p. 134.
Edwards County, Illinois, Records of marriages, Wills, deaths, Letters of Administration.
Ewen, C. L., History of British Surnames. N. Y. Macmillan, 1931.
Fothergill & Naugle, Virginia taxpayers, 1782-87. Other than those listed in Census Bureau.
Frear, Fort Bedford Bi-centennial, 1758-1958. Kenton.
Genealogy & history of Hugh Mason Wm. Mason & allied families.
Gerhard, Fred, Illinois as it is...Chicago, Keen & Lee, 1857.
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Greer, George C., Early Virginia immigrants, 1623-1666. Richmond, 1912.
Gunson, Ernest & C. E. Bradshaw Bowles, Bradshaw Hall & the Bradshawes. 1903
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Hanna, Charles A., The Wilderness Trail. Putnam's, 1911. 2 v. Kenton v. 2, p. 335.
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Additional pages missing.