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 one 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.