Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Masen and Mrs. Masen, Married 1888

My great-grandfather, Joe Neid, has left behind a mystery. Observe, this photo of a barn:

Original image here.

Note that the letters "K H" are written to the right. To the left, there is what could be an "S", or possibly a scribble, that is fainter than the other letters.

On the back, we have words written in Joe Neid's own hand:
Original image here.

married 1888
Masen 95 and Mrs Masen 98
73 Anniversary
Bucker [?]
(left, vertical) 1961

(my Aunt Kathie's handwriting) Barn that Joe Neid built on Cassville Ridge. The handwriting above is his.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? What is the significance of making a note of the Masens' anniversary on the back of this photograph? Is the barn even connected to the Masens, or was it just a convenient piece of paper to scribble on?

Here's what I found on some excellent candidates  for the Masens of Joe Neid's note:

  • James R Mason, age 3, appears in the 1870 census of the Robert (age 43) and Sarah (age 41) Mason household of Benton, Lafayette County, Wisconsin with siblings Mary (14), Sarah J (12), and Emma (5). Joe Neid's note of Mr. Mas[o]n being 95 in 1961 puts his birth year ~1866.
  • In 1880, James (age 13) is at home with his parents and sister Jane (age 21--probably Sarah J of 1870). They are still living in Benton.
  • James R. Mason and Cora S. Evans were married in Lafayette County on 12 Jan 1888. The 1900 census shows them (James age 33 and Cora age 34) in Shullsburg, Lafayette County, Wisconsin with Berniece (age 11) and Robert (age 7). Cora's (born in Vermont) estimated birth year is 1865, which is in the range of error for a stated age of 98 in 1961 (birth year ~1863, and a trifle older than her husband).
  • The family is much the same in 1905, with the addition of Myra, age 6. Cora's middle initial is given as "C".
  • In 1910, the family has moved to Apple River, Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The three children, "Bernice", Robert, and Myra are all at home.
  • The family is still living in Apple River in 1920. Robert and Myra are still home; Berniece is dead or moved out, and 75-year-old Cynthia Basset has joined the household. Cynthia is listed as mother-in-law to the head of household (James). Note that Cora's maiden name for her marriage was Evans, so perhaps her father was dead and her mother had remarried as Basset.
  • The household is down to 3 members in 1930 (James, Cora, and Robert), and they have relocated to Scales Mound, Jo Daviess County, Illinois.
  • James Robi[n?]son Mason died 20 Jan 1945 in Scales Mound, Illinois at age 77. His birth date is given as 25 Jan 1867, and birthplace as Lafayette County, Wisconsin. He was buried in Scales Mound; and his parents were Robert Mason and Sarah Robinson, both born in West Morlan County, England. His spouse's name? Eneus Mason. That's one heck of a mis-transcription of Cora.

Aw, shoot. I just realized: James can't be celebrating an anniversary in 1961 at age 95 if he died in 1945 at age 77. And everything was working out so nicely. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD.

Okay. 1910 census. Grant and surrounding counties. A Mr. Mason born ~1866 with a wife a few years older born ~1863. I can do this. There are 5 possibilities to consider.

  • Jackson C Mason (born ~1866) and Iona Mason (born ~1867) in Montfort, Grant County, Wisconsin. 
  • John R Mason (~1867) and Emma A Mason (~1870) in Glen Haven, Grant County, Wisconsin.
  • Samuel Mason (~1866) and Lucy Mason (~1875) in Blanchard, Lafayette County, Wisconsin.
  • August W Mason (~1862) and Bertha Mason (~1861) in Fennimore, Grant County, Wisconsin.
  • Frederick W Mason (~1870) and Annie Mason (~1866) in Bloomington, Grant County, Wisconsin.

In the 1940 census, using the same search parameters, only one of the couples is still around: John R and Emma on County V, Glen Haven. County V runs ~10 miles north of Cassville. Remember, the barn was said to have been built on Cassville Ridge. Maybe I should figure out exactly where the feature of "Cassville Ridge" runs.

Okay, so I got lost in maps for awhile, and I can't see that County V out of Glen Haven could be considered on Cassville Ridge. But I did find John Mason's farmstead in Glen Haven  Township, Section 17 NW. (HOWEVER, on a totally unrelated note, now I want to know what exactly is the 20 acres of land belonging to Grant County in Cassville Township Section 8 SW that switched ownership from Sheaser, Bausch, and Casanova between 1918 and 1956.)

To be perfectly honest, I don't really like any of these couples. They don't feel like a good fit. It's nothing personal. They're just not as cool as James and Emma. Are we sure it can't be them? Are we sure that James Mason didn't come back from the dead for his 73rd anniversary party with Joe Neid?

Okay Google, I'm handing this over to you. Do your thing. Get this out to people that might have more pieces to the puzzle. (Yes, I talk to Google. Does anyone else talk to Google? Maybe it's just me.)

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