Mason

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Mason, seat of Mason County, Texas

Mason, seat of Mason County, Texas

The Mason County Courthouse, located in the city of Mason, was destroyed in February 4, 2021 due to a fire caused by a local arsonist. Photograph by Geoffreylong.

Mason, the county seat of Mason County, is on Comanche Creek at the junction of Interstate Highway 87/State Highway 29 and Ranch roads 1871 and 386, in the central part of the county. It grew up around Fort Mason, established in 1851, although some settlers were already in the area before that date. One of the first, William S. Gamel, is thought to have arrived around 1846. Peter Birk and Henry Hick were among the first German settlers who moved west from Fredericksburg. Near the site of present Mason is Gamel Spring, where John O. Meusebach is thought to have signed a treaty with Comanche Chief Ketemoczy in 1847. The area was a favorite Indian campsite, and Gamel Spring was later used as a source of water by Fort Mason. Early settlers gathered around the fort, attracted by the opportunities for employment and protection from Indian attacks. Other settlers were soldiers from the fort whose terms of enlistment had expired. A sutler's store and blacksmith shop formed the nucleus of the early town when they were moved from the actual fort on Post Hill to the nearby community of Mason.

Shortly after the fort was occupied, mail service was established from San Antonio to Mason, and then on to the west. Supplies were also shipped from San Antonio by mule wagon. The Fort Mason post office, one of the county's first, was established three miles from the fort in March 1858 by George W. Todd. The name was changed to Mason in June of that year, and the office was eventually moved into the town itself. One of the first stores in Mason was a picket building erected by W. C. Lewis, who sold ammunition, groceries, and whiskey to soldiers and settlers. A second store was opened around 1860 by James E. Ranck, known as the "father of Mason" because of his efforts to develop the town and draw settlers to the area. He and Ben F. Gooch bought 5,000 acres of nearby land to lease to sharecroppers for cotton growing. In March 1861 the fort was surrendered to Confederate authorities, but it remained virtually unmanned during the Civil War, except for local militia and rangers. During the war years settlers suffered severe Indian attacks, and most of the families in the area congregated in or near the fort for protection. Mason was made the county seat by election on May 20, 1861. In 1866 the fort was reoccupied by federal troops, and there was a resurgence of settlers into the area. The federal government built the first telegraph line in the county through Mason to the western forts; the line was made available to the public until 1868, when the fort was permanently abandoned. When the fort was deserted, both during and after the Civil War, nearby residents appropriated equipment and building materials to use in Mason, until eventually almost all traces of the installation had disappeared. An election was held confirming Mason as county seat, on August 26, 1869, and land within the town was donated for county purposes on July 13, 1870, by William and Caroline Lockhart and John and Kate Gamel.

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Alice J. Rhoades | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Mason is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists

Yes

Place type

Mason is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • [Fort-]

Location

Latitude: 30.74801830
Longitude: -99.22874700

Has Post Office

Yes

Is Incorporated

Yes

Mason by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Mason
Pop. Year Source
2,121 2020 United States Census Bureau
2,293 2019 Texas Demographic Center
2,114 2010 United States Census Bureau
2,134 2000 United States Census Bureau
2,041 1990 United States Census Bureau
2,153 1980 United States Census Bureau
1,806 1970 United States Census Bureau
1,815 1960 United States Census Bureau
2,448 1950 United States Census Bureau
1,500 1940 United States Census Bureau
2,000 1930 United States Census Bureau
1,200 1920 United States Census Bureau
1,137 1900 United States Census Bureau
575 1880 United States Census Bureau