Mason, Charles W.
Age: 23, credited to New Haven, VTVITALS
Birth: 1832, Potsdam, NYADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT
Check the cemetery for location/directions
and other veterans who may be buried there.
Mason, Charles W., of Vergennes, son of Lawrence S. and Sarah (French) Mason, was born in Potsdam, N. Y., Nov. 6, 1837.
He was educated at the common schools and academy at New Haven, receiving a thorough preparation for after life. He has always devoted his attention to farming, and by industry and skill from small beginnings has increased the value of his property to such an extent that he has now one of the best farms of Addison county, consisting of over four hundred acres of productive land. He is a breeder and dealer in thoroughbred Merino sheep, and has raised many of very high value. These have been exported to nearly all states of the Union, and he has also shipped many to Africa, being one of the first to establish this enterprise. He also is a breeder of high-blood horses.
Mr. Mason is a Republican, and has been honored with various town offices, and is popular and prominent in Addison county.
He enlisted in Co. G, 14th Vt. Vols., when they organized Sept. 9, 1862, and was mustered in in October of the same year, holding the position of 2d lieutenant. Returning to Vermont in July, 1863, he raised Co. E for the 3d Vt. Militia Regt., and was commissioned captain by ex-Gov. J. Gregory Smith. He was present and took part in the bloody struggle at Gettysburg, and has a war record of which one may well be proud.
He belongs to the Masonic brotherhood, being a member of Libanus Lodge, No. 47, of Bristol, and the Chapter and Royal Arch Lodge of Vergennes. He has been a member of the Congregationalist church for a quarter of a century, and is one of the examining and building committee of the church recently erected.
Mr. Mason is a well-informed gentleman on state and foreign matters, and an intelligent and pleasant conversationalist.
Source: Jacob G. Ullery, compiler, Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, (Transcript Publishing Company, Brattleboro, VT, 1894), Part II, pp. 260.
Charles Wheeler Mason was the younger brother of Andrew Jackson Mason. Both were born to Lawrence Sprague Mason (1783-1853) and Sarah French, Lawrence's third wife, (1796-1879) of Potsdam, New York. Andrew was the older brother of the two being born in 1834. Charles was born November 6, 1837. Both brothers served in the Civil War, but in separate regiments at separate times. However, both served as lieutenants of their respective companies. As close brothers, they grew up in Potsdam, New York. There they became interested in agriculture as a living and both eventually moved to Addison County, Vermont where they developed an interest in the Merino sheep industry just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Charles became a leading breeder of Merinos in Addison County, ultimately co-founding a stock company in Vermont which sold breeding stock to sheep ranchers in the American far West and even overseas to places like Africa.Courtesy of Bernie Noble
Charles' place of birth was clearly Potsdam, New York where he and all of his brothers and sisters were born. His father and mother, Sarah, spent almost their entire adult lives living in that community. Lawrence died and was buried there in 1853. But there is some doubt as to the true date of birth of Charles. His headstone is inscribed with the date 1832. Many of my sources repeated that same date. However, numerous independent sources that are usually quite reliable contradicted the 1832 date. One source was a genealogical document on the Mason family entitled "Descendants of Capt. Hugh Mason in America" found on Ancestry.com. In it the date 1837 was given for his birth. This date seemed to be verified by his age as listed on all Federal Census records found for him and on his enlistment papers on which he stated his age was twenty-three when he signed up in 1862. Furthermore, in one of Andrew Mason's letters home during the war, he referred to "his younger brother" with whom he had entrusted his family and farm when he enlisted in the service from 1861-1863. Andrew had only two brothers - Jessie and Charles. Jessie was mentally handicapped and blind and being cared for by his parents until his untimely death in 1888. That meant the "younger brother" alluded to had to be Charles. Consequently, Charles had to be born after Andrew, therefore, he could not possibly have been born in 1832 since Andrew was born in 1834. So, it very much looked like the November 6, 1837 date was most likely the true birth date of Charles.
Between 1850 and 1859, Charles and his brother, Andrew, left Potsdam, New York and moved to the New Haven-Addison town area in order to begin their thriving sheep business. In 1859, Andrew got married to an Addison town girl named Ann Delia Ward. The 1860 Federal Census reported him owning a farm worth around $1,800. Charles boarded with some relatives of his mother's in Addison town since it would have been a little uncomfortable for him to live with Andrew and his new wife in a small house on a small spread in New Haven. After all, the newly married couple were barely getting to know each other as husband and wife and it would have been awkward to have Andrew's brother underfoot in the same home. Charles was twenty-one in 1860, old enough to have his own place, but he had just relocated to a new area and new people so it was far more practical for him to stay with his mother's relatives, Wheeler French, sixty, and his wife, Polly, fifty-seven. They had a well established and prosperous farm in Addison town. The 1860 Federal Census put a value of $10,500 on it. In comparison, Charles' total value was only $500. Wheeler's personal property added another $2,700 to the value of his estate. Charles had a good role model to follow in Wheeler. The home also housed two hired hands, both brothers from Canada, and one domestic servant from Ireland.
In September of 1861, Charles' older brother, Andrew, answered the bugle call to arms. He left a struggling farm, a new wife and his first born son behind in the care of his younger brother, Charles in New Haven (possibly at or near Earl Bessette's current farm at the intersection of Lime Kiln Road and Plank Road today). This arrangement between the two brothers worked satisfactorily until late in 1862. The constant stream of war news pouring home from the front lines in the form of letters and newspaper articles proved too irresistible for young Charles to ignore. It only excited his blood more to the point where he threw away all other concerns in the world (like his brother, his brother's wife and child's welfare) and enlisted in the Fourteenth Vermont Infantry, Company G to serve his country before the whole affair was over and he missed out on the chance to prove his courage and manhood. On September 1, 1862, Charles went to Bristol, Vermont, found the recruiter there and joined the Union Army for nine months. The twenty-three year old farmer from Potsdam, New York who stood an impressive five feet eleven and one half inches tall skipped the non-commissioned ranks men usually were assigned to and went straight to being a Second Lieutenant of his company. The Fourteenth Vermont reported to Brattleboro, Vermont on October 21, 1862 to be formerly accepted into the military service of the United States. Except for a lot of hard marching and a courageous and pivotal action on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg, Lieutenant Mason's career in the Union Army was both brief and uneventful.
The Fourteenth Vermont only existed for a short time (they were "Nine Months" men), but they saw hard service during their term of enlistment. At first, the Regiment was attached to those units making up the defenses around Washington, D.C. After December 11, 1862, the Fourteenth was placed on guard duty in and around Fairfax Court House where it was engaged in the repulse of Jeb Stuart's cavalry raid. From March to June, 1863, the Vermonters were stationed at Wolf Run Shoals along with other Vermont troops to guard the vital river ford on the Occoquan River. On the 25th of June, the Fourteenth was attached to the Third Division of the First Corps and began its march northward towards Gettysburg. It was a grueling march sometimes covering twenty miles a day for consecutive days at a time. Over two hundred of the Regiment were forced to drop out before every reaching Gettysburg because they could not keep up the pace. The Fourteenth arrived at Gettysburg too late to take part in the first day's action. It bivouacked in a wheat field to the left of Cemetery Ridge. Late on the second day, the Regiment was called into action to help the Thirteenth Vermont repel an attack by General A.P. Hill on the left center of the Union line. After the tremendous opening cannonade of July 3, during which several men of the Fourteenth were killed by an explosion of a battery caisson, the left flank of Pickett's long grey line could be seen advancing towards the concealed Vermonters. At less than one hundred yards distance from the enemy, the men of the Fourteenth rose at command and delivered a devastating volley into the Confederate columns. The Thirteenth and Sixteenth changed fronts and added their fire to that of the Fourteenth. The result was that Pickett's right wing was caught and crushed. After the main charge was halted and Pickett's divisions were streaming back towards Seminary Ridge, four companies of the Fourteenth, A, F, D, and I, captured most of Confederate General Wilcox's Brigade as prisoners. This independent action taken by the Vermont troops, including Chauncey L. Clark, was credited by the Union high command as being crucial to the turning of Pickett's Charge. The Fourteenth was also part of the Union's pursuit of Lee's forces following the three day battle. It was during this pursuit that, on July 18, 1863, the Fourteenth was released and sent home. The Fourteenth was mustered-out on July 30, 1863.
Retired army lieutenant Charles Wheeler Mason returned to New Haven to resume his civilian life. In his meanderings around Addison County on business, he managed to find and court a young lady by the name of Cornelia Ruth Rogers. She had been born March 16, 1842 in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, the daughter of Jabez W. and Helen (Ward) Rogers. Her father made a living being a stone mason and mechanic. She and Charles were married October 12, 1864. Children began arriving a short time after the wedding ceremony. The birth of the couple's first child, a daughter, Hattie E. (Harriet) (1865-1919) occurred on August 27, 1865 in New Haven. A year later, on August 3, 1866, a second daughter, Helen Ruth "Nellie" (1866-1934) was born. Raising children was not the only activity Charles was involved in during the years immediately following his active military service terminated. He also set about raising Company E for the Third Vermont for which the ex-Governor Gregory J. Smith commissioned him a Captain.
By 1870, farmer (more precisely, sheep breeder) Charles W. Mason, now in his early thirties, owned a business worth $8,000. He had accumulated enough personal property to add an additional value of $2,500 to his estate. Charles had become a very successful breeder and dealer in Merino sheep which he was exporting throughout the United States, even shipping some stock to Africa. He was also breeding thoroughbred horses. He and Cornelia and their two daughters, Hattie and Nellie, shared their home with Charles' mother, Sarah. She was widowed and seventy-three years old. In addition to a live-in mother-in-law, the house also sheltered a man named Gerry Moses from Canada and one J. Luccia, a female domestic. Being a prominent businessman in the New Haven community, it was only natural for Charles to become involved in town government and town affairs. He began his civic duties by becoming elected Fenceviewer in 1870, a post he held until 1890. He was also the surveyor of highways (1870-74) and Lister in 1874. According to the newspapers in the state, Charles was very much occupied with his Merino stock breeding business. In the latter part of the 1870s, he was reported as having shipped at one time "…about 700 merino bucks in (sic) Colorado during the past season, one carload of them bringing $4,200." Another episode of his sheep dealing made the news in the fall of 1879: "…George M. Willmoth left Friday for Denver, with a carload of 144 Merinos which he has charge of for the owner Charles Mason, Esq. of New Haven, who will join him at that point. Mr. Mason is well-known here as one of the best posted and successful Merino sheep-dealers in Addison County."
Charles continued breeding sheep in New Haven as 1880 approached. His brother, Andrew, also had a hand in the Merino sheep raising. Eventually, even Frederick, Andrew's son, entered into the business with his father and uncle when he went to Texas to be a representative of the newly formed Mason & Wright stock company. Meanwhile, Charles was expanding his family as well as his business. Charles and Cornelia had added two more daughters and a son by June of 1880 when the Federal Census was taken. Lillie had been born about 1871; Clayton about 1874; and Mary about 1877. As part of the 1880 household there was also a nephew, named Charles after his father also named Charles, and a "servant", a male, named Ambrose Tatro noted as being a "Month Farmhand". Charles the nephew was cast as a "boarder", but, considering the size of the farm operation Charles was running, was more than likely laboring as a hired man. Charles was extremely busy at this time raising and selling high quality Merino stock in Addison County, in the American West and around the world. The newspapers were full of reports on his transactions: "…O.A. Smith, Addison, to C.W.Mason, New Haven, 26 rams….Mr. C.W. Mason, the well-known sheep dealer, has just returned from a trip to Kansas….Mr. Mason shipped…a carload of 180 Spanish merinos…80 of them being from Vermont and the rest from Genesee county, N.Y…..E.A. Birchard & Son, Shoreham, Vt. to C.W. Mason, New Haven, Vt. 16 rams…."
In 1882, young Frederick Mason, Charles' nephew, was part of the Mason & Wright stock company as a dealer operating in the American West. While working in Texas in 1882, he contracted typhoid fever. He became so sick with the disease that he was shipped back to Vermont to die. Fortunately, he recovered and returned to Colorado where he continued dealing in sheep for the firm Mason & Wright. Charles joined Frederick in Colorado in 1886 when he set up a branch office in Denver. Even though he was spending a great deal of time out West on business, Charles managed to maintain a level of involvement in New Have town affairs as well. He was elected Grand Juror in 1885; Selectman 1886-87; and Beeman Academy Trustee 1885-98. The New Haven community thought highly enough of Charles and Cornelia to organize a public celebration of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Inclement weather limited the number of attendees, but still the couple received "…a number of elegant gifts."
Sometime prior to 1889, Charles took up a second residence in Los Angeles, California. He apparently also maintained his home in New Haven and spent the winter months were it was warmer. Cornelia, too, migrated back and forth, spending some time on both coasts. The Burlington Free Press reported in the fall of 1889 that: "…Mrs. Charles W. Mason left Monday for Southern California where she is to spend the winter. - She went to Boston accompanied by Mr. Mason and left Tuesday for California by the Santa Fe excursion route. - Hattie E. Mason will remain at home this winter, owing to her mother's absence…." Charles did not stay in California full-time. Occasionally he was in New Haven. At least once in 1891, he was home in Vermont long enough to entertain an important guest: "…Mr. Cann, a sheep buyer from Colorado, has been a guest of Charles Mason, and they have been buying fine wools for shipping in different parts of the country…." Just prior to this social/business event, Charles had been out in Colorado attending to more personal matters. His nephew, Frederick, the only surviving son of his brother, Andrew, had been murdered by an angry employee of Mason & Wright in Elizabeth, Colorado over wages due (see biographical sketch for Andrew Jackson Mason for complete details of this tragic event.). Charles had had to tie up Frederick's affairs in Colorado and escort his nephew's body back to Vermont for burial. In 1892, Charles, unlike his brother, applied for a Government pension due to disability suffered during his military service in the Civil War.
Going back and forth from Vermont to California took its toll on Cornelia's health. By 1895, she was "…very feeble and confined to her room since her return from California…." She retained her strength long enough to winter in Los Angeles one more winter where she died of consumption on April 5, 1896. Charles was having his own health issues. Loosing his wife was apparently the beginning of a decline in his mental stability. Two years later, January of 1898, he also lost his brother, Andrew. By May of that year, he had been admitted to Vermont's Insane Asylum in Waterbury, Vermont. The newspapers reported on May 27, 1898 that: "…Charles Mason of New Haven…was failing very fast and might not survive the day…." True to its own prediction, the Free Press printed the next day, "…Charles Mason of New Haven, aged 60 years, a veteran of the late war and one of the most prominent sheep men in Addison County, died at the insane asylum in Waterbury at 5 o'clock this morning. Mr. Mason's mind began to fail him some months ago while in California…." Official cause of death was given as "hypostatic congestion of lungs".
1. See Andrew J. Mason's biographical sketch for more family history.
2. Ancestry.com, Descendants of Capt. Hugh Mason in America under Charles W. Mason.
3. www.findagrave.com, Memorial #40785197 for Charles W. Mason; Ancestry.com, Storke Taylor Family Tree for Charles Wheeler Capt. Mason; Ibid., Descendants of Capt. Hugh Mason in America under Charles W. Mason; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908, Death for Charles W. Mason; www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Record of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served In Organizations From the State of Vermont, p. 32, image 311440584.
4. Ancestry.com, 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Andrew Mason.
5. Ibid., 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Charles Mason.
6. www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Record of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served In Organizations From the State of Vermont, p. 3, image 312198402. Hereinafter referred to as Compiled Service Records.
8. Ancestry.com, U.S. American Civil War Regiments, 1861-1866, 14th Infantry Regiment Vermont.
9. Ibid., 1850 & 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Cornelia Rogers; Ibid., Descendants of Capt., Hugh Mason in America for Charles W. Mason.
10. Ibid. Storke Taylor Family Tree for Charles Wheeler Capt. Mason.
12. Ibid., Descendants of Capt. Hugh Mason in America under Charles W. Mason.
13. Ibid., 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Charles Mason.
14. Ibid., Descendants of Capt. Hugh Mason in America under Charles W. Mason.
15. Ibid., 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Charles Mason.
16. A History of New Haven in Vermont, 1761-1983 by Harold Farnsworth and Robert Rogers, Town of New Haven, 1984, p. 310.
17. www.newspapers.com, The Lamoille News (Hyde Park, Vermont) Wed., Feb. 6, 1878.
18. Ibid., The Burlington Free Press, Tue., Sep. 30, 1879.
19. Ancestry.com, 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Charles Mason.
20. www.newspapers.com, Middlebury Register, Fri., Oct. 20, 1882; Ibid., The Burlington Free Press, Wed., Oct. 10, 1883; Ibid., Middlebury Register, Fri., Oct. 9, 1885.
21. Ibid., The Burlington Free Press, Tue., Oct. 19, 1886.
22. A History of New Haven in Vermont, 1761-1983 by Harold Farnsworth and Robert Rogers, Town of New Haven, 1984, p. 310.
23. www.newspapers.com, Middlebury Register, Fri., Oct. 19, 1888.
24. Ibid., The Burlington Free Press, Wed., Nov. 13, 1889.
25. Ibid., Burlington Clipper, Thu., Nov. 12, 1891.
26. www.fold3.com, General Index to Pension Files, image 25440636.
27. www.newspapers.com, Burlington Clipper, Thu., July 11, 1895.
28. Ancestry.com, California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 for Cornelia Mason.
29. www.newspapers.com, The Burlington Free Press, Fri., May 27, 1898.
30. Ibid., The Burlington Free Press, Sun., May 29, 1898.
31. Ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Charles W. Mason.