Saturday, July 12, 2014


CHRISTOPHER J. MASON (father of subject, Lycurgus C. Mason)

In the following biographical review, posterity is tendered the salient events in the life record of the pioneer, patriotic and honored citizen, of Independence, Capt. L. C. Mason. The date of his settlement, the period of his residence and the distinguished character of his citizenship, all conspire to render him a person of renown, and it is these attributes which furnish the inspiration for this article, and the honor of the man which justifies its production.

The oracle of fate decreed his nativity a hallowed spot. Born where was nurtured the youth of our martyred President, and where conditions and circumstances justified his suggestive but commonplace title of ''Rail-splitter." Lycurgus C. Mason grew up amid the sacred memories of the President's youth, and came to manhood, strengthened and animated by the success of his public life. A native of Indiana, and of Spencer county, Capt. Mason was born October 1, 1840. His father, Christopher J. Mason, was born in Ohio county, Kentucky, in 1813, and grew up and married, in his native county. Ellen Morgan, and in 1832 crossed the sinuous and watery boundary of the state and settled in Spencer county, Indiana. There the frontier couple established themselves, in the heavy woodland, and began the process of hewing out a home. Like many of the Kentucky pioneers, the Masons were from Virginia, where J. H. Mason, the grandfather of our subject, was born, married Elizabeth Jackson, a cousin of the famous ex-President and expounder of Democratic doctrine, and, about 1800, took his family into the new Commonwealth of Kentucky. Grandfather Mason was born about 1779 and died in Hancock county, Kentucky, in 1863. His children were eight in number, and none, save Christopher J., emigrated from his Kentucky home. They were: James, Joseph, Henry, Christopher J., Mary, Margaret, Jane, and Elvira.

Christopher J. Mason spent sixty-four years near the scene of his Indiana settlement, contributed no little to the material and internal development of his county, and died in October, 1896, forty-nine years after the death of his wife. Their children were: Cordelia J., wife of Dr. J. H. Houghland of Rockport, Indiana; W. T., a banker of the same city; and Capt. Lycurgus of this notice.

Grubbing, sprouting, rail-making, farming and, lastly, attending school, constituted the annual routine of L. C. Mason's early life, with strongly marked emphasis upon the physical occupations. Getting an education was insignificant, in comparison with the physical developer — chopping and grubbing — and if he dug into his books half as much as he dug into the ground, he was sure to become an accomplished scholar. In October, 1801, he enlisted in Company F, Fifty-eighth Indiana Volunteers, Capt. Crow's company, regiment in command of Col. Carr. Mr. Mason was mustered in as a sergeant of his company, and the regiment was ordered to Louisville from Princeton, Indiana, and it became a part of the Army of the Cumberland. After the battles of Stone river, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, our subject was transferred to the engineering corps, with the rank of first lieutenant. His was a company of Pontoniers and aided in bridging every important stream from Chattanooga to Atlanta, from which latter point it went with Sherman's army to the sea. The Captain's company helped bridge all the streams about Savannah, and, after the fall of that city, marched north through the Carolinas with the victorious Federal forces. On to Richmond, building bridges enroute and, finally, to Washington, D. C, where it participated in the band review. At Savannah, our subject received his captain's commission, and was in command of his company from then to the final muster out and discharge, at Indianapolis, in August, 1860.

On resuming civil pursuits, Capt. Mason engaged in the produce and tobacco business, flat-boating on the Ohio river. He engaged in traffic with planters along the lower Mississippi river, and occasionally made trips to New Orleans. For five years — 1866 to 1871— he followed this species of domestic commerce and closed the business with an accumulation of some capital and a roving and wandering habit. His army life, also, contributed to his spirit of unrest, and he came west in response to this peculiar mental bent. He came to Cherryvale, by rail, and staged it across to the new town of Independence, in Montgomery county, Kansas. His first home in the county was the Caldwell House, then kept by Larimer & Allen, and named in honor of U. S. Senator Caldwell, of Kansas. At Humboldt, enroute, he met Lyman U. Humphrey, who induced the Captain to become a citizen of southern Kansas. He spent the first two years as a loan broker and drifted, gradually, into grain, pork and cattle buying, following it till 1876, when he purchased a farm in the Verdigris bottom, just east of the county seat, and entered upon its cultivation and improvement. His farm now embraces seven hundred acres, as valuable an estate as the county affords. He owns much valuable property in Independence, and his homestead on the east bluff, over- looking the valley of the Verdigris, is one of the handsome places in the city. He is a heavy stockholder in the First National Bank and has been vice-president of the institution since 1887.

Captain Mason is well known as a Republican. He was honored by his townsmen, in 1881, to the chief magistry of the city, and was reelected to the office the following year. He has declined other political honors, preferring private life to the encumbrances and annoyance of public office.

After two years spent in Montgomery county, Capt. Mason started, June 1, 1873, on an extended tour of Europe. He left New York and reached Glasgow, Scotland, without important incident. He visited, respectively, Edinburg, Loudon, Amsterdam, up the Rhine to Vienna, where he attended the "World's Fair" two weeks, being honorary commissioner to the celebration from Kansas. He visited, next, Trieste; Venice; Rome; Naples; saw Mt. Vesuvius and the leaning tower of Pisa; was on to St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome; passed through the German Empire and capital; viewed the Swiss mountains and the beautiful city of Geneva; passed through Lyons and spent some time in Paris, France. While in Germany visited Strasburg, and in Berlin saw the great soldier and Emperor Williams I of Prussia. He returned to London from Paris and visited the Parliament House and other noted places, saw the great commercial port of the world, Liverpool, and sailed for America from Glasgow in September, reaching home in October, after an absence of four months.

October 23, 1878, Capt. Mason married Mary V. Britton, an Indiana lady and a daughter of Thomas P. Britton, whose ancestors were also Virginians. Thomas P. Britton was married to Miss Evaline Bayless, a native of Tennessee, but of Virginia ancestors, August 21, 1829. Mrs. Mason is proud of the fact that her great-grandfather, Benjamin Bayless, was a revolutionary soldier. She had several uncles who served in the Mexican war and also had a brother in the Mexican war, and one, Frank L., served in the Civil war, 1861-65, and was a prominent man in Texas during the reconstruction period. Gen. Forbes Britton, a graduate of West Point, uncle of Mrs. Mason, was very prominent in the settlement of Texas. Mrs. Mason was born in Spencer county, Indiana, in 1845, and is the mother of Evaline E. and Eugenia Mason, educated and accomplished daughters and the life of the family circle. Capt. Mason is a member of the Masonic fraternity in a dual sense, holds a membership in Fortitude Lodge and his daughters belong to the Eastern Star. Their support in religious matters is given to the Presbyterian church, of which the family are consistent members.

At Page 383

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