Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys


A Family History donated by: Harry Windecker


The surname Mason is likely from the occupation of a stone worker or builder with stone or brick. It is a Middle English word derived from Old French mason or macon and traced back to Medieval Latin, matio or macio. This may imply that the Masons came from France or the Norman Invasion. The earliest Mason name dates back to the 1300s with a definite record for Robert le Mason and son John, of Norwich, County Norfolk, England. There is a Town in Northumberland, which bears the name, Mason. Early Families with the Mason name have resided in Essex Nottingham, Cornwall, London, Stafford, Warwick, York, and Buckingham.

Our Mason ancestors certainly came to America from England. Several episodes of Masons came over at various times, resulting in a substantial number of family history possibilities.

Two "possible" pathways occur, which lead to our first Mason ancestors in the Mohawk Valley, Isaac and Hannah Martin Mason and their son, Alanson. The family came from Adams, Massachusetts. The problem is differentiating which Isaac is Alanson's father, as two Isaac Masons were born in Adams, with two years separating their births. In addition, Joseph Mason moved from Rhode Island or Massachusetts to Herkimer County in the late 1700s.

All three families can be traced, however, to a common ancestor, Robert Mason from Bolton, Lancashire, England, whose son Sampson, arrived in America before 1650. Because of this the two probable pathways, and that of Joseph Mason, will be discussed.

Alanson Mason was born in Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts on August 17, 1803, the son of Isaac Mason and Hannnah Martin. Berkshire County lies in western Massachusetts, not much more than 100-miles distant from Herkimer County, New York. It is reported in a Town of Warren family sketch that Isaac Mason, wife, Hannah, Alanson, and possibly other family members removed to Warren, New York in 1804. Alanson's younger brother, Isaac was born in Warren, Herkimer County on April 3, 1817. Other family members are unknown, but James Mason, of Richfield Springs, New York was mentioned in the family sketch.

Bolton, England is therefore, where the Mason branch of our family history likely begins. Robert Mason of Bolton, Lancastershire, England, was born about 1600, and died at Marston Moors, Bolton (possibly at the Battle of Marston Moors). His wife was reported to be Uxor (Hannah). They had nine children including Sampson Mason, born 10 March 1625 in Bolton. Marston Moors is a historically significant location, as it was the site of a battle, which made Oliver Cromwell and the Roundshead victorious over Charles I, King of England. Sampson served as a Dragoon in Cromwell's army until Charles II was restored to the English throne. This, apparently prompted Sampson and many others to relocate to America.

Sampson arrived in America about 1649, where he married Mary Butterworth, of Dorchester Massachusetts. Mary and Sampson, devout Baptists, were married in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts on March 9, 1650. Several generations of Masons came from this area of Massachusetts and nearby Rhode Island.

Mary and Sampson had at least 10-children, three daughters and seven sons. Three of their sons, Joseph, Isaac and Pelatiah represent the possible pathways to our Mason relatives.

As stated above, the least likely ancestral link is through Joseph, who removed to Herkimer County in the late 1700s. The following recount is provided to retain the link for future investigators. His ancestor, also named Joseph, was born March 6, 1663 in Rehoboth and married Lydia Bowen in 1686, relocating in nearby Swansea. Their son, Joseph Mason, Junior, was born in Swansea, Bristol, MA in 1687 and married Elizabeth Barney, of Rehoboth. Their son, Marmaduke, was also born in Swansea, in the year 1732.

Marmaduke married Hannah Anthony in 1752, and had a son Joseph, who was born in 1759, and moved on to Herkimer, New York in the late 1700s with his wife, Lovina Rounds. Joseph and Lovina had several children, some recorded with the surname Rounds, others with the surname, Mason. As stated, this pathway was described because it brings the Mason name to Herkimer County, but cannot be linked to our known ancestor, Alanson.

Pelatiah Mason was born April 1, 1669, in Rehoboth, MA. Pelatiah had four marriages, the first to Hepsibeth Brooks, May 22, 1694; the second to Hannah Hale, November 22, 1733; the other two wives remain unknown. Pelatiah, a less than staunch advocate of birth control, raised at least two very large families; the first, containing eleven children, and the second, containing nine. Russell, our possible ancestor, is from the first family (Pelatiah Mason and Hepsibeth Brooks).

Russell, born April 21, 1714, married Rhoda Kingsley on June5, 1736 in Swansea, Massachusetts. She was born February 2, 1720 in Swansea. They were also no slouch in the family-rearing department, as they raised twelve children, including Phillip Mason, born January 29, 1744/45. Phillip married Mercy Scott, and moved on to Adams, Massachusetts, where they had a child named Isaac on February 21, 1777.

This is a plausible pathway through our Mason ancestors, because, as stated earlier, an Isaac Mason of Adams Massachusetts married Hannah Martin and moved to Herkimer County, New York. The biographical sketch described above, indicated that Isaac was descendent of Samson (not spelled Sampson) Mason, a Dragoon in Oliver Cromwell's army. This misspelling is identical to the spelling of Isaac's father, Samson, described in the passage below. Therefore, I suspect that the most likely Mason ancestral path, is the next one described.

Following this most probable family history pathway, Isaac (Joseph's younger brother and Pelatiah's older brother) was born July 15, 1667 In Rehoboth MA and married Hannah Miles about 1693. They had at least ten children, including Nathan, who was born in Swansea, MA, May 10, 1705 and married Lillis Hale on August 26, 1731. Nathan and Lillis had at least 15 children, including the oldest, Samson, who is our likely ancestor.

Samson was born September 27, 1732 in Swansea, and married Hannah Haile on August 5, 1751. Hannah died in 1805 in Fort Ann, New York, which may provide additional credence to the migration westward. They had at least one child, Isaac Mason, who was born about 1765-66 in Berkshire, Berkshire, MA, and married Hannah Martin. Isaac and Hannah also had at least one child, Alanson, who was born in Adams, Berkshire, MA on August 17, 1803. This is very likely our ancestor, as the date of birth corresponds to the estimated birth of our ancestor, Alanson, who is buried in Dennison Corners, German Flatts, Herkimer County, New York. His age, at time of death, shows a probable birth in August/September 1803, correlating quite well with the birth reported in Berkshire, Massachusetts.

Isaac Mason and family settled in Warren, Herkimer, New York, as further verified by the birth of Isaac, Alanson's brother, in Warren. Alanson Mason, born in August 1803 was married to Mary Ann Thomas, in German Flatts, New York. She died at the age of 40 in September 1848. Wasting little time, Alanson remarried in April 1849 to Adelia Slater. Before her death, Mary Anne and Alanson had several children, including Isaac Mason, Amos T. Mason and Joseph W. Mason, our ancestor. Several Masons, including Alanson, Mary Ann, Adelia, and Amos T., are buried at the Dennison Corners Cemetery in German Flatts. [NOTE: The Amos T. Mason listed above is the brother of Joseph Mason, and not our ancestor.]

Joseph W. Mason was born September 5, 1837 in German Flatts. He married Harriet R. Tisdale on April 13, 1858 in Warren, New York. Harriet was born in Whitman Town, Herkimer County, New York in 1837. Her parents are likely Elijah and Hellen Tisdale, who are also buried at the Dennison Corners Cemetery along with several other members of the Tisdale family. The Tisdale family was described by George Hardin, in "The History of Herkimer County" as "an intellectual family that relocated from Connecticut."

Joseph and Harriet had several children including Amos T., our great grandfather. Amos married Florence Hardy, daughter of William T. and Lydia Hardy. They had several children including Josephine, Myra Lydia (our grandmother), Cary, Charles, Cleveland, Stewart, Woodrow, and Wilson.

Cary and Thelma (Packard) Mason were also great friends of our grandparents. During the summer our grandparents often went to their farm for weekend visits. As a boy, in the late 1940's and early 1950's, I would travel the short distance to their farm with my grandparents. At Cary and Thelma's farm they had a virtual menagerie of animals, including geese and a ram that would chase me. I especially remember the homemade butter they served, and "hanging around" with my older cousins (once removed), who introduced me to the sin of smoking. Cary Mason died in a tragic tractor accident in 1968.

Joseph, Amos and Cary represent several generations of Masons, including our grandmother Myra Lydia Mason, our grandfather Howard J. Rowell, and our mother, Florence, all buried at the beautiful Rural Highlands Cemetery in Jordanville, Town of Warren, New York.

Copyright 2001. Harry Windecker. All rights reserved.

Contents Introduction Links Home