Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  A.S. Mason House
Historical Marker
Leander/Bagdad, Texas

circa 1866

Bagdad Road, across from city park, S of FM 2243 and W of US 183
 
 

Marker Text:
Local farmer Alpheus S. Mason (1839-1926) constructed this house about 1866. Situated on Bagdad Road, an important early military and commercial route in central Texas, the home features a double-galleried porch with Victorian detailing. Mason, a veteran of the Civil War, was instrumental in the early growth of Bagdad (now a ghost town) and Leander (3 mi. NE) through his leadership in church, business, Masonic, and political activities. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1983


 
     
 
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GPS Points
Latitude: 30.567102, longitude: -97.866501
Degrees, Minutes, Seconds
+30°34'1.57", -97°51'59.40"
.
 
 


The Alpheus S. Mason Home
Historical Narrative

The Alpheus S. Mason home, built sometime between 1865 and 1867, [1] is located on Bagdad Road approximately 3 miles southwest of Leander, Texas, off FM 2243. It can be described as a symmetrical gingerbread Victorian home characteristic of 2 story houses of that period. [2] It is thought by a surviving family member to have been built by Huffstutler Builders out of Georgetown, Texas. [3] It has a double galleried front porch with six square columns with brackets. The second floor gallery has jigsaw cut balustrade. The style is typical in central Texas with a five bay galleried farmhouse. The door which exists today is later in style, perhaps 1895--1900.

Heating for the 2 downstairs bedrooms was provided by 2 end chimneys. The windows in the bedrooms had 4 panes of glass in the top and bottom sash. [4]

The original floor plan included a kitchen, dining room, and an L-shaped porch on the right side of the house. [5] The siding on the porch and the kitchen is horizontal and the other is laped. The siding under the first floor porch is flush which is a characteristic of 19th century homes. The ridge of the gabled roof is parallel to the front of the house. [6] A smokehouse, built behind the kitchen to cure their meat, was eliminated during restoration.

On the north wall of the entry hall, a narrow, steep, winding stairway led to 2 upstairs bedrooms. This area was not used much because of the difficulty getting furniture up the narrow stairwell. They pulled furniture up the 2nd floor gallery and took it through the balcony door.

On the south side of the home is an original dug well that provided water for the home dwellers. The farmhouse stands among beautiful old live oak and fig trees. Directly west across Bagdad Road, A. S. Mason built 2 cedar livestock barns allowed for the livestock and wagons to pass through. A windmill stands southeast of the barn.

There have been many minor changes, but the original home site looked very similar to today's. The alterations were done to match the original architecture *None of the restoration has seriously affected the home's integrity. [8]

SIGNIFICANCE

The A. S. Mason home is situated on Bagdad Road, once heavily traveled trail for stagecoaches heading anywhere from Austin to a stage stop known as Buttercup (which was 1 mile south of Cedar Park) near Llano and all points west including Abilene and San Angelo. [9] Previously known as the Central National Road, Bagdad Road was sometimes referred to as the "military" road because of the military traffic over it between Austin and the forts. The grove where Bagdad was built was about halfway between Austin and Fort Croghan, so it was a favorite campground for the army stationed at the fort.

The popular and distinguished Robert E. Lee frequently stayed in Bagdad at a "wayside inn" kept by Charles Babcock. Lee was a familiar figure in the western section of Williamson County. [10]

Approximately 1/4 miles north of the Mason homestead are located several historical sites.

The Heinatz stone 1-story home and adjoining general store and post office were awarded a Texas Historical Landmark in 1972. John Frederick Heinatz was a postmaster of Bagdad, a public school trustee, legal advisor, banker and superintendent of his Sunday School. [11]

Another outstanding structure which used to be located close to the Mason home was the Stagecoach Inn where the coaches changed their teams of horses and rested. Recently the building burned to the ground. Located on FM 2243, Bagdad Cemetery is yet another significant site close to the Mason home. It opened in 1857. Some of the early burials were of Civil War veterans John Haile and Colonel C. C. Mason (Alpheus' father) Colonel Mason's burial monument is broken at the top which is a characteristic of someone who committed suicide. He took his life in 1865 at the age of 46 when his son, Alf, was serving in the Civil War. [12]

Alheus Mason's ancestors resided in Virginia in early times and continued to live there until Alf's grandfather moved to North Carolina where Col. C. C. Mason, the father of Alpheus, was born in 1818. He married Margaret Corothers 1836. They had five children: David, Alpheus S., Lou, John B., and C. C. Alf was born April 27,1839, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The wife and mother died in North Carolina in 1848 and in 1850 Col. C. C. Mason married Mary J. Carothers. They had 7 children: J. N., Margaret J., Addie B., Pinckney, Nancy, Gussie, and Belle.

They moved in 1850 to Tennessee and in 1851 to Austin, Texas. There they resided two years, then made a final settlement on the Bagdad prairie. Colonel C. C. Mason bought and divided approximately 4000 acres of land among all his children.

In Williamson County on September 15, 1859, Alpheus Mason married Margaret J. Carothers. They had 6 children: Clabe S., Della, Thomas, Nora, Lou, and William. [13] Clabe and Della were not born in the Bagdad Mason home, but the 6 children were. The Mason's probably resided in a simple one story house somewhere on the property. An old picture of the Mason home is dated 1867, so the house must have been built soon after Alf's return from the war. It is certain that the house was built quite a few years before Margaret J. Mason's death on November 15, 1889.

When Margaret died, she was in Georgetown visiting her daughter Della Chapman. Later, Alf married Eliza, who was his brother John's first wife. They had three children: Sally Coe, and Ofie. [14]

A.S. Mason followed merchandising quite extensively in Williamson County, but his chief occupation was farming. Of his 800 acres of the home tract, 200 acres were under cultivation. In addition to the home tract, he also owned other farms and rented them on the third and fourth. This means the landowner furnished the land. He rented this land to a renter. The renter paid 1/3 of the feed crop and 1/4 of the cotton grown to the landlord for the use of the land. [15]

In 1862 A. S. Mason enlisted as a private in Company A, Morgan's Battalion of Calvary, and served in the Trans-Mississippi Department. He was a member of the Quartermaster's Department during the last year of the Civil War. He participated in the battles of Pleasant Hill, Yellow Bayou, Mansfield, in the Bank's expedition, and he saw General Greene of Texas killed. [16]

While Alf was in the service, Margaret Carothers Mason moved in with her family who resided in Ponton, Texas, what is now near Georgetown Road.

Their first son, Clabe, had already been born, but while she was at her family's home, she gave birth to Della in 1864. In one of her letters (enclosed) she wrote that Alf was almost captured by the Feds on his way to Arkansas. They got his 6-shooter and blankets. He spent 2 days and nights in the weeds with no food or water. [17]

During Civil War times, Indians were a real threat to this county-side. Some of the men didn't fight in order to stay home and protect 1/4110''r the women and children. One of the outstanding Indian incidents was the Webster Massacre (Aug. 27, 1839) was leading a group of settlers to the San Saba area. On their way (where Liberty Hill is today) they sighted Indians, so they turned back. They stopped at a house to get water for the horses and were advised to stay the night. Instead, they headed on and camped at Brushy Creek. They were massacred and killed by the Indians. This was probably the most significant of the Indian attacks in the area. [18]

Bagdad, a flourishing old town, was surveyed in 1854 by Charles Babcock. The town grew rapidly and by 1882 when the Austin and Northwestern Railroad bypassed it, Bagdad had a long list of businesses: the Heinatz, John D. Soeegle, John Faubion, Sr., C.C. Mason stores, etc. Three families played an important role in the development of Bagdad: the Masons, Heinatzs, and Faubions.

Leander grew from the once thriving town of Bagdad. The new town was named for railroad official Leander Brown. Homes and businesses from the older community quickly moved to the new site along the rail line. [19] Alf moved to Leander and he and his wife Eliza built a home there on land she had inherited from her first husband, John B. Mason (he was Alpheus' brother, but died while he was in his thirties). Clabe and his wife Minnie Cluck moved into the Bagdad Mason home. It is written that Minnie Cluck's mother, Hariet, was one of the first white woman to cross the Chisholm Trail. [20] Trails through Williamson County were feeder routes leading to the primary trails to markets: Western Trail, Dodge City Trail, Shawnee Trail, and Chisholm Trail. Any trail which eventually led to Chisholm Trail (and most of them through Williamson County did) could claim the title "Chisholm Trail. [21]

Alpheus was associated with the Democratic Party. He was an active, vital member of the Methodist Church, and for a number of years he served as superintendent of the Sunday School. [22] Closely aligned with churches were the Masonic lodges which postdated the Civil War in Williamson County. A. S. Mason was an outstanding member of the Norton Moses, Lodge Number 336, chartered in 1871 in Bagdad. [24]

The first public school in the community was built in Bagdad by the Masonic fraternity. It is certain that Alf's children attended classes at the two story building; the downstairs used for school and the upstairs used for Masonic meetings. The building was deeded to the Leander Public School and moved to Leander. The Leander school started in 1893 and has grown into one of the largest school districts in Williamson County. [25]

The Masons were a leading family in Leander soon after the city was established. [26] Alpheus was noted for being a kind, generous humanitarian. He loaned money to honest, hardworking men, giving them an opportunity to become substantial citizens. With all the hard-earned money circulating, many of the wealthy began to lend it to farmers, or to anyone who would five a well-secured note. He had all year to repay the money, and at a low interest rate. Every town had a firm which lent money Leander there were the Mason's Walkers, Humbles, and Chapmans. [27] An example of Alf's generosity is that he would often personally finance freed slaves living at Jenks Branch (located close to Bagdad.)

Alf had a freed Negro slave named Prince who lived in a one room shack at the southeast corner of Alf and Eliza's Leander home. He used to go to the Leander Methodist Church with Alf and sit on the back row. Originally this church was located in Bagdad, but it was moved by a team of mules when Bagdad residents relocated in Leander. [28]

Although A. S. Mason never performed any terribly heroic deed, he was a significant member and organizer of 2 communities--Bagdad and Leander. It is men Like this who are the backbone of our country. Older citizens still living who remember "Uncle Alf" Mason say he was a kind, generous, considerate person. He was devoted to his country, community, family, and friends.

     Mason Endnotes PDF

  


from the

Biographical History from The History of Texas Book

Alpheus S. Mason, a successful farmer of Williamson county, was born in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, April 27, 1839. The Mason family located in Virginia in early times, and continued to reside in that State until the grandfather of our subject married and moved to North Carolina, making a settlement on the Catawba river. There Colonel C. C. Mason, the father of our subject, was born in 1818. He was married to Margaret Carothers in 1836, and continued his residence in that State until 1850, when the family removed to Tennessee. The following year they came Texas, and for two years resided in Austin, when a final settlement was then made on the Bagdad prairie. Colonel Mason died there May 5, 1865. He was a man of strong personality did much for the community in which he lived. He was a liberal supporter of the Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Masonic fraternity. Mr. & Mrs. Mason had five children: David, deceased; Alpheus S., our subject; Lou, wife of Dr. A. N. Graham, of Lampasas; John B., deceased; and C. C. , of Travis county. The wife and mother died in North Carolina, in 1848, and in 1850 the father married Mary J. Carothers, who still survives. They had seven children, viz.: J. N., a resident of Leander, Texas; Margaret J., wife of J. H. Fanbion, also of the city; Addie B. deceased; Pinckney, deceased; Nancy, deceased; Gussie, deceased; and Belle, wife of Dr. T. H. Locke, of Leander.

Alpheus S. Mason, the subject of this sketch, has followed merchandising quite extensively in this count, but his chief occupation has been that of farming. In 1866 he located on the site of his present home, where he lives 800 acres, 200 acres, of which is under a good state of cultivation. In addition to the home tract, he also owns other farms, aggregating 1,000 acres. Mr. Mason answered to the call of his country in 1862, and enlisted as a private in Company A, Morgan’s Battalion of Cavalry, and served in the Trans-Mississippi Department. During the last year of the war he was a member of the Quartermaster’s Department. He participated in the battles of Pleasant Hill, Yellow Bayou, Mansfield, in the Bank’s expedition, and saw the lamented General Greene, of Texas, killed. In his political relations, Mr. Mason is identified with the Democratic party. He is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for a number of years has served as Superintendent of the Sunday-school.

In Williamson county, September 15, 1859, he was united in marriage with Margaret J. Carothers. They had six children, viz.: Clabe S., a farmer of Leander, Texas; Delia, wife of L. F. Chapman, a hardware merchant of Georgetown; Thomas, telegraph operator for the Austin & Northwestern Railroad, at Fairland, Texas; Nora, Lou and William, at home. The wife and mother died November 15, 1889. She was a zealous Christian lady and devoted to her husband and children.

C. C. Mason, a brother of A. S. Mason, and a resident of the same neighborhood, was born February 25, 1847. He was too young to participate in regular service during the late war, but was a member of the State militia. Mr. Mason owns 300 acres of land in this county, 110 acres cultivated, where he is engaged in general farming and stock –raising.

He was married January 1, 1887, to Sarah J., a daughter of M. J. Wells. They have had ten children, namely: Martin J., deceased, James N., engaged as clerk in the general mercantile store of Jesse Humble; and F. Crotis, S. Zora, O Carl, E. Fay, Lorenzo, D. Maggie and D. Ernest, at home. The wife and mother died February 9, 1891. She was a member of and an active worker in the Presbyterian Church, and was a woman of many graces of character. Mr. Mason is also a member of that church, and affiliates with the Democratic party.




Culture of the Shin Oak Ridge Folk
By J. Gordon Bryson
Copyright 1964 by J. Gordon Bryson
Printed by Firm Foundation
Publishing House

p. 24 One of the Masons, perhaps Alf, loaned money to honest,
hardworking men, giving them an opportunity to become substantial and influential citizens.

p. 23 Leander, the city, the railroad created by missing Bagdad,
is still a good little town. It has always been a thriving little town. It is surrounded by good black land that merges with the cedar hills which extend to the river. It's agricultural production had made its transition from Cotton to livestock with as little change in its economy as any place we know.

The Masons were a family of leaders, becoming so soon after the city was established and maintaining their leadership Jessie Humble and his partner Luny Chapman who married into the Mason family, had a big general store.

p. 52 With all this hard money circulating, many of the hoarders
began to lend it to farmers, or to anyone who would give a well-secured note. One had all year to repay the money, and the interest was only 10%. Every town had a firm which lent money. In Leander, there were the Masons, Walkers, Humbles and Chapmans.

p.20-22 When the railroad reached a point just about 1 mile East of Bagdad, a new town was founded. This town was called Leander, after Leander Brown, one of the officials of the A & NW. Then the post office was moved from Bagdad to Leander. Most of the people and business houses went with it.

Bagdad was perhaps named for the Old World City. It was founded by Charles Babcock in 1854. Four years later a post office was established by a well-educated and trained young man who had left his native Germany to seek his fortune in what was then called the New World. His name was John Heinatz. He landed in NY, decided to "go invest". He shipped to Galveston, the main port in the fabulous new state of Texas. He bought a wagon and team and again decided to "go west". Just what date he stopped at a certain house to spend the night is not known. This particular good housewife gave Heinatz a warm room and prepared a hot supper and a new kind of bread. After sleeping in a soft, warm bed, he arose the next morning feeling better than he had since leaving Germany. After only a visual survey of the land he decided this was his Canaan. He built a rock home and a store building. It included a grain building of the same quality. He became a postmaster, gave legal advice, was a banker, mechanic, miller, and patriot of the new state.

p. 29 During the Era, stagecoach roads had about the same
influence in the establishment of communities, schools, churches, stores, shops, grist mills and post offices that the railroad had later on. At the time there were 2 routes from Burnet to Austin, and 1 from Austin by Round Rock, Brooksville on to Fort Gates.
One of the Burnet routes went by Cedar Mills-just west of Bagdad. The other came by South Gabriel, Liberty Hill, and Bagdad, and the two converged at a long-forgotten coummnunity known as buttercup. There was a stage stop nearly always where 2 roads converged.

p.8-9 The old Austin-Burnet road was the county line between
Williamson and Travis counties. This road was the second oldest, Burnet-Austin road which went by south Gabriel and through Liberty Hill and Bagdad. It stopped in Williamson County at the ghost town of Hopewell. It went by a Burnet County ghost town called Cedar Mills.

p. 12 The oldest Austin-Burnet Rd. perhaps caused the birth of
Hopewell. It had gone from there to a Burnet County ghost town of Cedar Mills. Then, when Ft. Groghan was built at Hamilton (now Burnet) in 1849, they shifted to a straighter Austin-Burnet
road.

It came thru and created South Gabriel, and in doing so made a ghost town of Cedar Mills. The road went some 6 miles from South Gabriel and created Old Liberty Hill (3 miles west of New Liberty Hill) Then to Bagdad and then the road ran into the old road and ended at the stage stop known as buttercup. This second Austin-Burnet road remained the shortest and best connection between the 2 points until the creation of HW 29.
7/21 Alf- Moved to Leander across the railroad. He thought
the railroad would run the town. His 2nd wife was known as "Aunt Liza". Aunt Liza was C.C. Mason's brother's wife. Col. C.C. Mason committed suicide. He lived from 1818-1865, he was 46 years of age. By his second wife he had Sally Coe. Bagdad road was the road traveled from Austin, Llano, San Angelo. At this time Highway 183 was cotton fields. In the early 1820's 183 was surveyed.

Stagecoach Inn Front porch was right on the road. Afterwards used as a residence. (across from the Heinatz) Provided
a change for horses, rest for the passengers.

Alf Mason owned several places and rented on the 3rd and 4th which means 1/3 if feed and 1/4 cotton. Lots of freed slaves lived in Jenks Branch (close to Bagdad) He financed the Negroes and he got to be a stockholder in the bank. In 1917 a bank came to Leander. Alf had a freed Negro slave, "Prince" working for him, who lived in a one room shack at the South¬east corner of Alfs house. He used to go to the church with Alf and sit on the back row. The Leander Methodist was originally the Bagdad Methodist and was moved by a team of mules.

The Mason house was built like that originally. It had one bedroom downstairs on the North side and One bedroom downstairs on the South side. One on the East and one on the West. It had a kitchen, dining room, a L shaped porch on the back, a smokehouse behind the kitchen and narrow circular stairs that led to 2 bedrooms. The upstairs wasn't used much at that time. Clabe S. was Alf's son, who took the house after his father moved to Leander. When Clabe moved to Leander Archie Giddens moved into the Mason house.

Walls and ceiling were made of 6" boards nailed together. The windmill was across the road. On the south side of the house was a dug well used for water for the house, The original cedar log barns connected with a hallway for horses and a wagon to pass through. The whole thing was roofed together. The hayshed to the side was not original.

1st public school was built in Bagdad by the Masonic fraternity. It was a 2 story building, downstairs for school and upstairs for Masonic meeting, church, etc. The building was deeded to the Leander Public School and moved to Leander. It was added on to.

Margaret J. Mason(lst wife) -1841-1889 Alpheus S. Mason-1839-1926

Irene Mason Interview 7/22
Della never lived in the house as an adult. Clabe lived in the house after Alf moved to town and when Clabe died he owned it. Lonnie Dara owned it, then Alpha and Minnie Ray Mitchell.

Col. C.C. Mason was a Civil War Veteran

7/20 John F. Heinatz built Heinatz estate-married to Emily
(2nd wife) Bagdad was widely traveled by people from west to San Antonio.

7/22 Mrs. Eunice Wiley- when he was married to "Aunt Mag"
he lived in the Bagdad house.

Mrs. Irene Mason House has to be more than 92 years old. Built in 1866. Built house for 1st wife, Margaret, she died
in 1889.

Col. C.C. Mason bought land and divided it among all his
children.

Huffstuffler Built the house (out of Georgetown) Gladys Corwin   (possibly) granddaughter of Huffstuffler.

John C. is Irene Mason's husband who is the son of Clabe
Mason.

The back part of the house has been torn down. It was a smoke house where they used to cure their meat.

Ms. Myneta Matthews
Says "Leander House" is actually "Mason House" near Bagdad (cemetery-has medallion-1970) }pats House- also has medallion and plaque because its 100 years of and is historic state record since 1970. Railroad was going to be built in Bagdad, but they didn't want it. It was built in Leander and Bagdad closed up and moved to Leander. She says she will check with Leander people and get in touch with one Insall descendant left.

Activity House is a part of the Hynats Estate; was Bagdad post office, general store, maybe a blacksmith shop, Mrs. Eunice Wiley is 93 years old and her cousin is Myaeta Matthews. She knows Alphus Mason, A.S. was in Confederate Army.
C.C. Mason committed suicide he was the father of Alphus
Mason.



 

 

 

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