Some Mason History
The first settler of Mason county is thought to have been William S. Gamel in 1846. The settlement of Mason grew up underneath Fort Mason, started in 1851 by the U.S. War Department as a front-line defense against the Native Americans in the area. Robert E. Lee was even stationed at Fort Mason before the Civil War broke out.
The protection and commercial possibilities of Fort Mason drew more settlers to the area, including W.C. Lewis, who established the first general store. Mason has always had a rich history of entrepreneurs, folks who not only work for themselves, they work to better this community. In 1860, James E. Ranck, “The Father of Mason,” established a second general store and along with Ben Gooch, started leasing about 5,000 acres of land to cotton sharecroppers.
Anna Martin, the founder of Commercial Bank of Mason moved from Germany to Mason in 1859. After the death of her husband in 1879, founded a general store & stagecoach stop, became postmaster, and the first person to sell barbed wire in Mason county - selling more than any other business in West Texas. She eventually became on of the wealthiest Texans of German ancestry, acquiring 50,000 acres of land in Mason, Llano and Gillespie counties and ran the Commercial Bank until her death in 1925. She once said, ”I heard men say, 'oh, she's only a woman', but I showed them what a woman can do.”
Mason is full of people who strive to keep Texan hospitality and heritage alive, and continue the dream of our founding citizens.
Recreated officer's quarters of Fort Mason overlooking the town.
The story from Todd Mountain can be found in "The Captured" by local historian Scott Zesch.
History Near Settlers Ridge
In the 1850's, as the hill country was being settled, Native American tribes began to fiercely protect their native hunting grounds in the Llano River basin. They made violent raids on Loyal Valley, Cherry Springs and Mason where they would steal horses and capture children working in the fields then ride off to the protection of the reservations in Oklahoma or cross the border into Mexico. This led the United States War Department to establish Fort Mason in 1851. Under the Confederacy, the Fort was shuttered in 1861 but due to severe raids during the Civil War, was reopened from 1865-1871.
The property adjacent to Settlers Ridge to the northwest is a Historic Site of such a raid in 1865. The Todd family, living at the base of now Todd Mountain, was traveling to town to see a newborn nephew when a group of Native Americans raided their party. George Todd, the first postmaster of Mason county, fled after his daughter Alice Todd fell off of his horse. The mother fought, but was killed, along with their female servant. Alice Todd was never heard from again, but it is believed that a pictograph of her capture can be seen at Paint Rock, nearly 80 miles from the sight of the raid.
Just a few miles from Settler’s Ridge is downtown Mason, where within minutes you can shop at the local grocer, check your mail at the post office and take care of all your home and ranching needs. Nothing beats walking into hometown restaurants, like the Square Plate, Willow Creek and Santos, where the staff knows your name and your favorite meal. Stop by the Green House or organic goods, hearty garden plants as well as herbal and holistic remedies. Wake up with a real cappuccino and from-scratch pastries at Topaz Confections. Grab a can of paint or a new microwave at Mason Building Supply. Pick up a hunting blind or organic pesticide at Mason Feed Store. When its time to relax catch a movie or a free documentary at The Odeon Theater, or check out a book from the Mason County Library.
Mason is hometown of the Punchers, mascot of the award winning Mason Independent School District. With grade sizes of about 70 students, growing up in Mason means having a close relationship with everyone in your class. Not only do the students strive to achieve excellence, but they are also extremely supportive of their peers to do the same. There is truly a place for everyone, with an outstanding football team, brilliant marching band, award winning one act play cast, a diverse art program and much more at Mason ISD.
Charitable and Cultural Events
The Mason community comes together for charitable events like the Habitat for Humanity Benefit and Bluebonnet CASA as well as cultural events such as the Round-Up Parade and Rodeo, Mason Arts Festivals, Old Yeller Days and Odeon Theater Concert Series.
The Mason Round-Up Parade and Rodeo is a 50 year tradition enjoyed by all generations. This mid-summer destination includes a parade of local organizations, an arts and crafts festival, “The Great American Jackass Race”, rodeo queens court pageant and open rodeo at the Mason Rodeo Arena. Round-Up culminates with a dance under the Hill Country stars accompanied by music from talented Texas musicians.
Old Yeller Days celebrates the rich frontier heritage of Mason County and our hometown author of Old Yeller, Mr. Fred Gipson. The courthouse lawn is filled with re-enactors, storytellers, authors and musicians as well as events like Old Yeller look-alike contests, dog and owner costume contests and a fun dog show and parade. The Odeon Theater even has viewings of the original movies Old Yeller and Savage Sam in conjunction with the occasion. This is truly an experience that symbolizes the history of smalltown Mason.
Odeon Concert Series
Mason is home to over a dozen vineyards and an award-winning boutique winery, Sandstone Cellars. You can explore both ends of the wine industry by touring vineyards, chatting with growers, even getting down in the dirt and picking your own grapes to learning from local winemakers and tasting the newest yearly editions of Mason county wines at Hallowine Fest.
Our art community is constantly growing with artists like Bill Worrell, Gene Zesch, Spider Johnson, Laura Lewis and more. Mason now has a spring and fall Arts Festival, when artists and musicians line the square to share their talents. To help to express the artistic nature of our community, the Mason Mural Project is working to paint murals representing our town. There is always artful inspiration in Mason, whether viewing works at local galleries, enjoying a glass of wine amongst beautiful artwork, taking classes with talented art teachers or walking the square during arts festivals. This small community is indeed rich in arts and culture.