Mason is a small town of around 1400 people and 24 square miles in area. I've heard the road agent say 70% of our roads are dirt, and that seems about right. Mason is hilly and forested, with an abundance of old, lichen-covered stone walls that are reminders of its agricultural past. Clearing the woods for fields was only the first step. Next the settlers had to clear the fields of stones so they could plow the fields and graze their livestock. The superabundance of stones was both curse and convenience, as they provided the material for miles of stone walls to mark property boundaries an keep livestock in the pastures and out of the crop fields.
This area was part of Groton in the Province of Massachusetts, before the border between the provinces of New Hampshire and Massachusetts was firmly established in 1741. In the 1730s, several families sent their cattle up to this area each summer to graze under the care of a slave named Bode, who is now considered to be the first resident of the town. The people of Groton would come up here to hunt and fish, cut hay in the meadows, and cut poles from the woods. One of the places they chose for the latter activity is still called Pole Hill, and that is where our house is located.
The town was known as Township No. 1, or just Number One, when it was chartered in 1749. It was the first of four towns established along the border with Massachusetts. It was later renamed to Mason, in honor of the founder of the Province of New Hampshire, Captain John Mason.
Here's an interesting bit from the charter granted under King George III. After stating that the inhabitants shall "for Ever" have the "Powers and Authorities, Priviledges and Immunities and Franchises" enjoyed by inhabitants of other towns in the province, it goes on to say (emphasis in the original):
"…always reserving to Us Our Heirs and Successors ALL WHITE PINE TREES which are or shall be found growing & being on the said Tract of Land fit for the use of Our Royal Navy…"
Twenty-eight men from Mason marched to Cambridge and fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill; one was killed by "a cannonball to the neck" and another disappeared. Mason's most famous military connection is as the boyhood home of Sam Wilson, later known as Uncle Sam when as a butcher in Troy, N.Y., he supplied meat to the United States army during the War of 1812. Uncle Sam's house is well-preserved just downhill from the village of Mason. Sam Wilson returned to Mason to marry Betsey Mann, daughter of one of the Bunker Hill soldiers.
The War Between the States (they don't call it that up here, for some reason) saw 121 Mason men enlisted, 15 killed and 13 dying of disease.
Mason had a single participant in the Spanish-American war, Private Charles Babb with the First Regiment, Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, which was deployed to defend Boston Harbor from possible attack by a Spanish fleet. Interestingly, he's always been referred to as Colonel Babb by town residents who knew him, so perhaps he also served in WWI. He lived in the house we now own.