Saturday, October 27, 2007

Early America - Major John Mason

Post Card Photo and caption:
“On Pequot Hill, Mystic, Ct. stands the statue of Major John Mason at the spot where on June 7, 1637 he with 90 colonists and 100 Mohegan Indians burned to death 600 to 700 men, women and children of the warlike Pequot Indian Tribe.”

This Monument Erected at Mystic in 1889 by the State of Connecticut. Relocated in 1996 to respect a sacred site of the 1637 Pequot War

9th great-grandfather
Major John MASON-b.1600 / Captain John MASON-b.1657/ Lydia MASON-b. abt 1696/ Lucretia SEYMOUR-b.1730 / Isaac ENSIGN-b.1756 / Horace Datus ENSIGN-b.1797/ Martin Luther ENSIGN-b.1831/ Harriett Camilla ENSIGN-b.1859 / George Ensign SMITH-b.1898/Camilla SMITH-b.1926 / Lark / JR

11th great-grandfather
Major John MASON-b.1600 / Anne MASON-b.1650 / John BROWN Capt.-b.1675 / Martha BROWN-b.1729 / John JEFFORDS-b.1746 / Lucretia JEFFORDS-b.1766 / Amariah RAWSON-b.1787 / Adaline RAWSON-b.1811/ Mary DUNN-b.1833 /Harriett Camilla ENSIGN-b.1859 / George Ensign SMITH-b.1898 / Camilla SMITH-b.1926 / Lark / JR

Founder of Windsor and Founder of Norwich 1660

The early life of John Mason in England (born circa 1600-1001) is obscure. A puritan, he served as an officer under Sir Thomas Fairfax in the Netherlands against Spain. He made the 63 day passage to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with Reverend Wareham's party in 1630. One of the few experienced military men, he was elected captain at Dorchester, and eventually helped found Windsor, CT., where the Connecticut River Indians had invited settlement.

In 1636 the first Pequot war began in New England, between Indians and the English. The colony had but a few hundred English inhabitants. Mason commanded a contingent of 90 solders, and with the principal aid of Uncus and the Mohegans, he defeated the powerful Pequot nation in 1637. Disobeying orders, he made strategic decisions on his own, which helped gain victory over a more numerous enemy. He lost 2 dead and 20 wounded. Mason said of Uncus... "He was a great friend and did great service."

Major Mason was the chief military officer in the colony for 35 years. He was magistrate and major at Windsor for 8 years. He married his second wife, Anne Peck, after the death of his first wife, and had altogether 8 children. A son John Jr., was mortally wounded in King Phillip's war (another English/Indian struggle) in 1675. For the next 12 years he was placed in charge of a fort in Saybrook. In 1660 with his son-in-law, the Rev. James Fitch, he founded Norwich. During the first 8 years he was made deputy governor and for two years was acting governor while Gov. Winthrop was in England seeking Connecticut's charter from King Charles. He died January 30, 1672.

Roger WILLIAMS, in his correspondence with WINTHROP, of New London, refers to MASON in terms which lead us to infer that the latter, as a neighbor, was not particularly acceptable to other plantations:

"Since I mention Capt. MASON, worthy sir, I humbly beg of the Father of Lights to guile you in youre converse and neighbourhood with him"

"Sir, heape coales of fire on Capt. MASON's head, conquer evil with good, but be not cowardly and overcome with any evill."

Again, alluding to dispatches that he had received from Capt. MASON, he says,--

"The letters are kind to myself but terrible to all these natives, especially to the sachems."

Uncas and his tribe were peculiarly the wards and adherents of MASON, and he pledged to defend them against all complaints. We may be disposed to charge him with cruelty to a vanquished foe, but the same taint lies on most of the early colonists. He only shared in the ferocious character of the age, and, we may add, in that misconstruction of the spirit of Christianity which devoted its enemies to immediate and vindictive destruction.

Of the first marriage of Capt. MASON no date or specification has been recovered. A memorandum in the old church-book at Windsor gives the number of those who had die din the plantation before the year 1639, and mentions as one of them the captain's wife. No other inhabitant is known to have had at that time the title of captain, and therefore this may be pronounced without hesitation the wife of MASON. In July, 1639, he was married to Anne PECK, who was the mother of the seven children recorded at Norwich, which list is supposed to comprise his whole offspring.

Mrs. Anne MASON died at Norwich before her husband. A memorial sermon, preached by Mr. FITCH, represents her as a woman of eminent piety, and "gifted with a measure of knowledge above what is usual in her sex."

"I need not tell you," says the preacher, "what a Dorcas you have lost; men, women, and children are ready with weeping to acknowledge what works of mercy she hath done for them."

The family is registered at Norwich with this heading: "The names and ages of the children of Maj. MASON." The day of the month is not given, nor the place of birth. The list is as follows: Priscilla, born in October, 1641; Samuel, born in July, 1644;John born in August, 1646; Rachel, born in October, 1848; Anne, born in June, 1650; Daniel, born in April, 1652; Elizabeth, born in August, 1654.

The first three were probably born in Windsor, the others at Saybrook.

Of this group three were ingrafted into the FITCH family. Rev. James FITCH married for his second wife, in October, 1654, Priscilla MASON; John MASON (2) married Abigail FITCH; and James FITCH (2) married Elizabeth MASON, Jan. 1, 1676.

Rachel MASON became the second wife of Charles HILL, of New London. They were married June 12, 1678, and she died in less than a year afterwards.

Anne MASON married, Nov. 8, 1672, Capt. John BROWN, of Swanzey.

John MASON, second son of the major, succeeded to his father's accommodations in Norwich.

This gallant young captain was severely and, as it proved, fatally wounded in the great swamp fight at Narragansett, Dec. 19, 1675. It is probable that he was brought home from that sanguinary field by his Mohegan warriors on the Indian bier. His wounds never healed. After lingering several months, he died, and is supposed, in the same house where his father expired, and was doubtless laid by his side in the old obliterated graveyard of the first comers. Though scarcely thirty years of age at the time of his death, he stood high in public esteem, both in a civil and military capacity. He had represented town at three sessions of the Legislature, and was chosen an assistant the year of his decease. In the probate of his estate before the County Court he is called "the worshipful John MASON." The Rev. Mr. BRADSTREET, of New London, records his death in these terms:

"My hon'd and dear Friend Capt. Jno MASON one of ye magistrates of this Colony, and second son of Major Jno MASON, dyed, Sept. 18, 1676"1 [1 Hist. And Gen. Reg., 9, 46.]

He left two young children,--Anne, who married John DENISON, and John, born at Norwich in 1673, afterwards known as Capt. John MASON, being the third in lineal succession who had borne the name and title. He is best known as an Indian claimant, visiting England to asset the rights of the heirs of Maj. MASON to those lands which the latter purchased as agent of the colony. His connection with this long Mohegan controversy will bring him at another period within the range of our history.

The other sons of Maj. MASON, Samuel and Daniel, settled in Stonington, as an ample domain given by the colony to their father, near the border of Long Island Sound. Samuel was chosen an assistant in 1683, and acquired the same military rank as his father, being known also as Maj. MASON. He was one of the four purchasers of Lebanon, but never removed thither. He died at Stonington, March 30, 1705, leaving four children, all daughters. His only son, John died ten days before him, aged twenty-eight, and unmarried. The male branch in this line here became extinct, but the name was continued in the line of the oldest daughter, Anne, who married her cousin, the third John MASON, before mentioned.

Lieut. Daniel MASON, the early schoolmaster of Norwich, died at Stonington, Jan. 28, 1736-37, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. His first wife was Margaret DENISON, of Roxbury, and his second Rebecca HOBART, of Hingham. His oldest son, Daniel, married Dorothy HOBART, and settled in Lebanon, where he died, July 4, 1706, thirty years before the decease of his father, leaving only one child, an infant son, named Jeremiah, after his grandfather, Rev. Jeremiah HOBART.

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