Fayette County Genealogy Project
JOHN MASON (JOHANNES MAURER) - Founder of Masontown, Pennsylvania
John Mason (Johannes Maurer) was born in 1730 and died in 1812, according to his gravestone in the cemetery located on the farm where he lived in Unity Township, Columbiana County, Ohio. His parentage is unknown.
He married Abigail (Apolonia) R. in about 1762. Abigail was born in 1739; she died in 1817 in Unity Township, Columbiana County, Ohio, and was buried beside her husband in the Mason-Rich Cemetery. (This small cemetery is on a farm situated on the south side of ohio route 558, one and a fourth miles east of the juncture of routes 46 and 558; it is registered with the Ohio Genealogical Society, Mansfield, Ohio, and the Official Graves Registry, NSSAR, Louisville, Kentucky.)
Early land records show that John Mason was settled in what is now German Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on a tract of land called "Abington" by 1768. In Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania Clarence M. Busch stated that Mason's Fort was built by John Mason between 1774-78 (Busch, Vol. 2, p 395). Franklin Ellis, in his History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, 1882, gave the following account of the fort: "'Fort Mason' was just below or east of the town, to the north of the spring in the field now belonging to Messrs. Gray. It was built by John Mason near 1780, and was resorted to for sagety by the early settlers during the Indian troubles. It was threatened with destruction by the Tories and Indians, but was warned by Mr. Carmichael, founder of Carmichael's, Green Co., in time to prepare for the enemy, which when they perceived they passed by and attempted to capture Fort Burd." (Ellis, p. 600)
John and Abigail Mason were members of Jacob's Lutheran Church, a self-organized congregation dating back to 1768. The church was formally organized by the Rev. John Stauch in May 1793, and the minutes of the organizational meeting, written in German, contain twenty-five names, one of which is Johannes Maurer. The patent to a tract of land called the "Straight Narrow Way," obtained for the purpose of establiching the church, was made to Michael Frank, Nicholas Pock, John Mason, John Hartmann, Everly, and Joseph Yeager (Ellis, p. 597).
Masontown, formerly Germantown, was laid out by John Mason on a tract of land called "East Abington." By deed dated the 29th of May 1798, he conveyed to the inhabitants the streets and all ???? with the usual privileges and franchises conveyed in town charters. John and Abigail Mason established the first system of public instruction in Masontown in 1801 when they deeded to the citizens of Germantown "a house and lot on Water Street for school purposes," "specifying the objects intended: An education--German and English--in the Arts and Sciences, Morality and Religion."
In 1802 John and Abigail Mason, with several of their children and their families, removed to Unity Township, Columbiana County, Ohio, where he bought a section of land just west of where East Palestine now stands. At the same time, their sons, Philip Mason and George Mason, settled in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
Abigail Mason's maiden name has not been found. The footstone of her grave bears the initials "A. R." John Nicholas Baker named her in his will, written in German and proved 2 March 1763 in Frederick County, Virginia: "Further it is my will that my children born of my second wife with their sister Aploon shall all have an Equal share of all the winter grain that is sowed on my said plantation." His children born of his second wife were Melchior, John Nicholas, Philip, Ann Margaret, Katherine Elizabeth, and Katherine. All were later in Fayette County, according to early Lutheran church records of that area. His children born of this first wife received their legacy, part in Germany and part in this country; they were Philip Peter, Hieronymus, and Anthony.
Exactly when the name "John Mason" was first used is not known. The earliest record found of that name is that of Michael Debolt's application for 317 acres of land called "Clear Springs," situated in what is now German Township, Fayette County, and dated 1 March 1768, in which he described the tract, in part, as "joining Land of John Mason, Robert Harrison, & Adam Sholly." Even though records relating to John Mason were registered under that name in the courts of Fayette and Columbiana Counties, his signature in all cases was "Johannes Maurer," written in German.
For his service during the Revolution, John Mason was recorded by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution on 19 June 1979 as "Patriot, builder of a frontier fort and defender of the frontier." (His service during the Revolution was verified by NSDAR in Oct, 1981. --RSB, 1982)