To date the Mason family knew little about their early ancestors, other than that some of them were born in this home on Old Trail Road. Then one thing led to another and before you know it 95-year old Velma Mason Rorick, Velma’s daughter Jackie Gay, and Betty Yoquelet-James Mason’s daughter, began their extensive geneaology research. This is a continuation of the Mason Family History – And A View of the Past that was printed in a previous issue of The Waynedale News dated August 17, 2005.
Back in the day…
Frank Mason was a young man when he left his native state of Pennsylvania in the early 1800s and made the long wilderness journey overland with a team of oxen. He acquired a tract of land in Allen County and established a home where he reared a family. There is no record of where this land was located.
According to the Tract Book in the Allen County Auditor’s office, Richard Beck claimed land in Allen County (Waynedale area) on November 16, 1833 when he entered the United States. Charles Fairfield also claimed a portion of land near Beck’s in 1835. Richard Beck died on May 23, 1861 leaving land to his wife Sarah. She sold the land at $54/acre (totaling $1600) on October 25, 1866, to its tenant Josephus S. Mason, according to an abstract from Allen County records.
Josephus was the son of Frank Mason. He had little education and occupied himself with the cultivation of 119.60 acres when he became owner. According to Allen County records, Josephus Mason was born in 1829, in Allen County, Indiana. He married Catharine A. (Kate) Sites (b-1831) and they had two children: a son George E. (b-December 18, 1856) and a daughter Martha Belle. Josephus acquired more and better land in later years, and branched out into stock farming, where he was prosperous and successful on Old Trail Road. He was known to be a capable veterinarian surgeon, although not schooled, had a natural talent for it. Their daughter Martha Belle married Samuel Sledd who was an M.D.
In the 1870s pioneer landowners, the Mason’s, Bradbury’s, and the Weaver’s, began selling portions of their land for the railroad spur at the Lower Huntington Road intersection. Josephus and Catharine Mason saw an opportunity and placed a north-south road west of the railroad from Lower Huntington Road south to Indianapolis Road (now McArthur Drive).
On January 26, 1875 Josephus and Catharine Mason sold another portion of their land to the Congregation of the Prairie Grove Church of United Brethren in Christ for $50. This church is located in Prairie Grove Cemetery. Josephus died and was buried in Prairie Grove Cemetery in 1896 willing the land to his wife Catharine. She lived until February 12, 1902 and had 20 shares of capital stock at First National Bank of Fort Wayne, $1310 cash, and land when she died.
George E. Mason, son of Josephus, married Katherine E. Baker (b-April 24, 1860) daughter of George and Mary Jane (Spice) Baker, on January 11, 1883. They had six children; daughter Ida Mae, son Montgomery D., son Roy E., son William M., son Joseph S., and son Harley T., all born in Allen County, Indiana. George was well schooled and acquired practical training from his father.
In 1884, he rented a 240-acre farm in Lafayette Township where he carried on extensive farming and stock raising. Appearing in court in December of 1913 George had to prove that a fellow by the name of Joseph Kress did not own any portion of his land. He proved it from his records, and personal testimonies from his friends and neighbors, that he cultivated the land, built the houses, fences, barns and ditches and had for more than 30 years. In a January issue of the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel a disclaimer was placed for 3 consecutive weeks that this was George Mason’s land.
On August 1, 1917 a contract was made between George E. Mason and Charles Rastetter. The contract stated that George E. Mason was owner of all pieces of parcel of land located in Allen County, Indiana lying East of the Bluffton and Fort Wayne Road, North of the Huntington Road, and West of the Richardville Indian Reservation. Charles Rastetter was engaged in real estate business for assistance in laying-out and grading streets. The streets were to be 50′ wide and an entire tract platted into lots of an acre each. If you faced Bluffton Road and had cleared land facing Huntington Road $450 was paid for a lot. All other lots were sold at $400 per lot.
After half of the lots were sold by Mr. Mason, then Mr. Rastetter agreed to come in and lay out a 20′ driveway from Bluffton Road west to just south of Prairie Grove Church to the public ditch near the Indiana Service Corporation Electric Interurban Railway, and provide a 4′ passageway from the ditch to Stop Number 9 on the Bluffton Interurban Railway.
Mr. Mason agreed to have abstracts made for each lot and Mr. Rastetter agreed to advertise the lots for sale. The deeds included a restriction limiting the purchaser to place buildings no closer than 50′ of center of street, no building in the front half of a lot to cost less than $2500, and that no intoxicating liquor was to be sold or manufactured.
Mr. Rastetter hoped to sell the lots within 2 years so that he would not interfere with Mr. Mason’s farming of his crops in the spring of 1918.
In August of 1921 George, now a widower, sold 10 acres of his land to James Mutton.
George died October 17, 1921 in Miami, Florida, and was buried in Prairie Grove Cemetery. He left $15,000 personal estate, $15,000 real estate, and lake property in Steuben County. The family could not agree on how to divide the land so they sold the real estate (85.2 acres) estimated to be worth $30,000. It was sold at a private sale for not less than its appraised value. After the sale, in 1922, the proceeds were divided according to interests, mostly 1/18 and 1/6, to sons, son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, grandsons, and granddaughters.
Also on October 17, 1921 George’s daughter Ida Mae, and son Mont D. died, along with Roy E. in December of that year. It may have been from yellow fever.
In 1923 a portion of the Mason real estate was put up for sale at a public auction. The highest bid was for $19,000 sold to John Burns, Wm. A. Burns, Mathias Knecht, George Hodson, and Judge C. Kirkpatrick, who then sold portions of the real estate to The Kryder Company, Inc., Clarence F. Kryder and Minnie V. Kryder, on June 30, 1924. They were engaged in general real estate business.
Bearing that same date, June 30, 1924, a deed was also granted to Abner S. Elzey to plat and lay out 110 acres of the Mason real estate for lots, streets, and alleys. This real estate was sold to Elzey in the amount of $12,600.
A petition in the 1930s was brought up to establish more roads in Waynedale. On February 18, 1946 Michael H. Kinder, a registered professional civil engineer and surveyor made a survey of the areas lots, etc., including the lots which the Mason home was built on in the early 1900s.
March 7, 1946 Harold and Nina Davis sold the Mason homestead to Edith and Jeraldine Baumgartner. The Baumgartner’s sold to Herbert A. and Leonora Scherer and they owned the home on Old Trail Road from November 8, 1951 to December 21, 1971 when the Hanchar’s took possession.
And today, for the Mason’s, a few of them separated by many miles, their family reunion has helped them to maintain their strong family bond and has brought the family together during a happy time.
The experience of visiting their original homestead brought back many good memories for Velma of New Haven, Mildred now living in New Castle and Bernice traveling with her son and daughter-in-law from Belvidere, Illinois.
During the tour/visit at the Hanchar home, a young 95-year old Velma Mason Rorick, recalled her dad farming the land. She said, “We had a good 100 acres, with 4 milking cows, 2 mules, chickens, pigs, and crops to put up. We had a lot of fun here! Walked to school down the road to Waynedale School. I cleaned this house. That was my job.” Her younger sister Mildred said it was her job to keep the flies off the food during thrashing season. And she recalled being pulled while sitting in a bucket through the pond that sat in front of the house.
Nestled in 5-wooded lots, this Mason homestead was lovingly restored by Tom and Brenda. Inside the late 1800 home is ripped ship lathe that is still in place under the wiring and stucco. They learned quickly that homes built in the late 1800s are vastly different from the ones built today. The plaster within was originally made from a clay muck using horsehair, typical of homebuilding during this era. Many of the original beams however, as well as, some of the same doors remain intact from those early days. And all of the plumbing and electrical was replaced when the Hanchar’s moved in. “The house has its old-house issues,” said Mr. Hanchar. “But I wouldn’t trade its soaring ceilings, rustic doorways, or rock-solid serenity.”
Dotted throughout the yard on the outside are a few 100-year-old mulberry, pine, and maple trees still giving way to shade on the “muck farm” (as it was called back then).
Fact by fact, photo by photo, the genealogy of the Mason family is finally starting to come together thanks to Tom Hanchar who opened his home up to the Mason’s the day of their reunion, July 24, 2005. Tie this experience together with a well-told story from one of the Mason’s and this all helps to connect with vanished ancestors. No one is ever born into life alone. Everyone has shared the bond of family, at least at birth, and for many people it is a bond that will follow them throughout life. For many people it is the most important bond of all.