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Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

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Charles Mason

Ward — Thomas Museum
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Charles H. Mason

Charles H. Mason

Charles H. Mason Tells Of Life In Niles In The 1870’s
Source: Charles H. Mason Centennial Isue of Niles Daily Times, 1934.

The Mason Family has long occupied a prominent place in Niles affairs. Two sons of Ambrose Mason, the early settler, occupied positions of leadership in the community.

H.H. Mason came to Niles with his father in about 1835. He attended the district school and helped on the farm for a while and then accepted a clerkship in Warren and went there to live. In a few years he returned to Niles and entered the store which his father had established in partnership with Josiah Robbins.

In 1842 he married Adeliza Kingsley, and some years later removed to Cleveland for a short period.

In 1866 he was elected the first mayor of the incorporated village of Niles. He also served on the village council and in the township offices for a number of years.

From 1873 to 1880 Mr. Mason was cashier of the Citizen’s Savings and Loan Company. From 1880-1889 he served as postmaster. The next year he was made president of the first National Bank of Niles, a position he held for three years.

Hiram T. Mason, brother of H.H. Mason, was active in county work, serving two terms as county commissioner and was also active in the Disciple church (First Christian Church, Ed.).

Charles H. Mason's grandfather was Ambrose Mason, the first postmaster in Niles; his father was H.H. Mason, first mayor of Niles. So it is that Charles H. Mason, 207 Vienna Avenue, is descended from one of the pioneer families of this locality.

Mr. Mason was born October 15, 1855, on the site of the skating rink on Main Street still in the same building in which his father operated a store. He recalls that his older sister, Cordelia, and William McKinley used to play together in that store when they were children.

View of the H.H. Mason residence as it appeared in the Fall of 2018.

View of the H.H. Mason residence as it appeared in the Fall of 2018.

In 1859 the Mason family moved into the homestead on Vienna Avenue and it was there that the elder Mason held court. At that time his son, Charles was only 11 years old and as he expresses it, ‘was more for having a good time than for attending the court.” However, one trial made a lasting impression upon him. It involved two women who had been in a fight on the south side. The Mason homestead was later the P.J. Sheehan home.

Mr. Mason remembers that cows, pigs, and chickens ran through what is now Main Street, that there was a plank road to Warren and Colgate, that a row of houses stood across from the site of Central Park, that a footbridge spanned Mosquito Creek near the grist mill and that workers used to cross the bridge between heats and go to the saloon, that Charlie Harris had the first automobile, a Packard, in the vicinity of 1897, that everyone gathered up rifles and pitch forks when it was reported that Morgan (confederate army) was coming.

Credit slip from the Young & Mason store.

Credit slip from the Young & Mason store.
Dated 1874.

Old Baseball Team
Still an ardent baseball fan, Mr. Mason recalls old Oakland baseball club of 1872-73 which used to play between Pearl and Robbins in the vicinity of Lafayette and Washington. On the team were Henry Baldwin, catcher; C.H. Mason, pitcher; Watt Shaffer, first base; E.A. Biery, second base; Ed Dickey, third base; Charles Baldwin, shortstop; J.W. Robbins, George Parker, Jim Carr, and Craig Phillips, outfielders.

In those days, baseball was somewhat different from what it is now. Mr. Mason describes it thus: at that time the pitcher had to hold his arm straight and pitch, he couldn’t throw the ball. It was hard to control the ball; you never could tell whether it was going to roll on the groud or go out into space.

The players weren’t allowed to wear gloves or other protection, the catcher would stand way back and take the ball on the first bounce. Then Warren was the only place you could have a bat turned. Mr. Mason tells that often he walked to Warren in the morning, had his bat turned, and then returned to Niles to play a game in the afternoon. The Oakland team played teams from Church Hill, Mineral Ridge, Girard and other surrounding towns.

View of the Town Hall and

View of the Town Hall and
Civil War Monument.

Torchlight Parades
Campaigns of former days were real exciting, according to Mr. Mason. There were torchlight processions and parades in favor of the candidates. He tells of one parade in which there was a float on which nails were made. The nails bore the names of Grant and Colfax and were thrown into the crowd red hot. [Ulysses S. Grant was an American military officer and politician who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. [President; Ulysses S. Grant; Vice President: Schuyler Colfax (1869–1873)].

Old-fashioned bob sled parties were popular amusement in past times, Mr. Mason suggests. Hay and blankets were piled on the sled and everyone got in and the party rode for several hours, and finally stopping at someone’s home to eat oysters and crackers. The party was often concluded at two, three or even four o’clock in the morning at the close of hours of dancing to accordion music.

Mr. Mason served as township trustee for six years. He was holding this position at the time of the erection of the McKinley Memorial and he helped make the transfer of the old town hall to the Memorial.

Mr. and Mrs. Mason are the parents of the following children: Mrs. H.J. Webb, Niles; Mrs. Elva Stewart, Youngstown; and H.J. Mason, Warren.




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