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James Rankin Mason Papers

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James Rankin Mason Papers, 1847-1899 | Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

By Charlotte F. Cannon

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Collection Overview

Title: James Rankin Mason Papers, 1847-1899Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Extent: 0.44 Cubic Feet

Date Acquired: 05/30/2002

Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865., Sign language., Slavery--Kentucky.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The life of the James Rankin Mason family of Madison County, Kentucky is documented through the papers in this collection. Much of the correspondence deals with Civil War times. Reference is made to hiring blacks, desertion and loneliness of soldiers. Parental concerns are voiced in correspondence as women try to raise children alone. Other correspondence mentions trials concerning an army discharge as well as other matters during the war years. Of particular interest is a letter from a Newark, Ohio teacher describing Union feelings and giving a glimpse of opinions on government and politics during the Civil War. Later correspondence deals with farming, lifestyle, ordering goods, weddings and deaths. Lastly, letters from soldiers tell about camp conditions and looting. Also includes a series of correspondence from Edward Francis, who served in the 114th United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, to his wife Liza.

Other parts of the collection highlight the education, business and cultural aspects of the family by documenting farming activities, dressmaking activities and scholarly pursuits. An 1870 broadside that teaches sign language is especially interesting.

Collection Historical Note

James Rankin Mason was born in 1822 in Madison County, Kentucky, to Nancy Snoddy and John Mason. James was the youngest of seven children. He had three brothers (William, John and Samuel) and three sisters (Margaret, Isabella and Mary).

On October 24, 1844, at age 22, James Rankin Mason married Margaret Jane Cochran, age 15. Together they had nine children. Six boys (William, John, Robert, Gilbert, Rankin and Walker) and three daughters (Sarah, Mary and Nancy). William became an attorney in the area, but died at the early age of 32. John married Sarah Cornelison and had a family of eight children, including triplets. Sarah married Alexander Black and had a son, Thomas. Robert married Rose Gibson. Records tell nothing about Margaret, Gilbert or Walker.

Rankin was a student at Central University in Richmond. He graduated in 1879 and later became a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C. In 1857, James Rankin Mason bought a 392.5 acre farm on Silver Creek for $17,000 from his father-in-law, Robert Cochran. James Rankin Mason was a well-to-do farmer/tailor. He raised and sold hogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks and tobacco. He also sold eggs and potatoes. In addition, he sewed and sold shirts, breeches and waistcoats.

James Rankin Mason died October 13, 1902. He was 80 years old. He is interred in the Richmond Cemetery. He was preceded in death by his wife Margaret Jane. She died in 1891 at the age of 62.

Subject/Index Terms

Civil War, 1861-1865.
Sign language.
Slavery--Kentucky.

Administrative Information

Repository: Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

Acquisition Source: Bellamy, Verna R.


Box and Folder Listing


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Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence - Edward and Liza Francis, 1864-1866Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
This correspondence consists of 12 letters between Edward Francis and his wife Elizabeth, who was under the care of James Mason Rankin of Richmond, Ky. Many of the letters from Edward appear to have been written by different people as the handwriting and spelling is not consistent. Edward joined Co. B, 114th USCI 16 June of 1864 in London, Ky. The regiment moved to Camp Nelson to be organized. After the Civil War Edward served in Texas until 1867. Arranged in chronological order by date.
Related Materials: Myers, Marshall and Chris Propes. ""I Don't Fear Nothing in the Shape of Man": The Civil War and Texas Border Letters of Edward Francis, United States Colored Troops." The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Vol. 101, No. 4 (Autumn 2003).
Folder 2: Correspondence, 1859-1892Add to your cart.
Much of the correspondence deals with Civil War times. Reference is made to hiring blacks, desertion and loneliness of soldiers. Parental concerns are voiced in correspondence as women try to raise children alone. One big concern was making sure the children could read. Other correspondence mentions trials concerning an army discharge as well as other matters during the war years. Later correspondence deals with farming, lifestyle, ordering goods, weddings and deaths. Of particular interest is a letter (no date) referring to Brutus Clay's overnight visit, another from a Newark, Ohio teacher describing Union feelings and giving a glimpse of opinions on government and politics during the Civil War. Lastly, letters from soldiers tell about camp conditions and looting.
Item 6: Jewett, Janie G. to My Dear Friends, 1861Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Item 7: Cochran, M.A. to William, 1862Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 3: Diary/Account Books, 1860-1876Add to your cart.
Consists of several combination books, accounts and diary events arranged chronologically by date. Entries show farm and household goods, children boarding bills while attending school, trade of sewing garments, and notations regarding medical ailments (i.e., smallpox and tumors). Also included are farm rentals and breeding records for his horses, which he often bred to jacks.
Item 1: Account Book, 1860Add to your cart.
Item 2: Passbook, 1861Add to your cart.
Item 3: Account/Diaries, 1875 - 1876Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Education receipts, 1866 - 1876Add to your cart.
Contains Central University receipts.
Folder 5: General receipts, 1876 - 1890Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Insurance receipts, 1868 - 1886Add to your cart.
Interesting to note are the Mutual insurance receipts showing family member's cause of death and an assessment of remaining family members.
Folder 7: Statements/Bill of Goods, 1847 - 1888Add to your cart.
Folder 8: MusicAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Piano scales & lessonsAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Piano selections (2)Add to your cart.
Item 3: Violin lessonAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Personal WritingsAdd to your cart.
Item 1: FarewellAdd to your cart.
Item 2: PolitenessAdd to your cart.
Item 3: MeritAdd to your cart.
Item 4: War, WarAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Essay about the Civil War by Wm. J. Mason.
Folder 10: Attorney's fees/statements, 1865 - 1872Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Bounty claims, 1868 - 1871Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Court records, 1862 - 1887Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Discharge (Joshua Shiflett), 1864Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Internal Revenue receipts One for "Keeper of Jack", 1863 - 1870Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Land deed/Missouri, 1865Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Land rental receipts, 1857 - 1866Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Quitclaim deed, 1871Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Railroad tariff, 1872 - 1886Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Sheriff summons, 1876Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Miscellaneous, 1863-1886Add to your cart.
The material in this series is arranged in chronological order by date. The exception is: all magnetic springs material is together. Most documents deal with personal lifestyles. Those not dated are at the end of the series.
Item 1: Penmanship booklets (2), 1863Add to your cart.
One bound by sewing a newspaper on the cover
Item 2: Handkerchief flirtations, 1863Add to your cart.
Item 3: Magnetic Springs, 1876-1886Add to your cart.
Item 4: Funeral Notice of son William, 1878Add to your cart.
Item 5: Pedigree registration of "Chief Justice" (swine), 1886Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Publications, 1852-1896Add to your cart.
The publications relate to business, politics and religion among others and are arranged chronologically.
Item 1: Speech, 1852Add to your cart.
Given in U.S. Senate by James Jones of TN on non-intervention
Item 2: The New National Tax Law, 1863Add to your cart.
Item 3: Printed Speech, 1864Add to your cart.
(belonging to William Mason) given by Honorable Garrett Davis to U.S. Senate on political history of Massachusetts
Item 4: McLean Family Almanac, 1865Add to your cart.
Item 5: Catalogue of Cane Mills, 1866Add to your cart.
From Clark Sorgo Machine Company of Cincinnati, OH, showing farm machinery and prices
Item 6: Landreth's Rural Register, 1867Add to your cart.
And almanac farm calendar and seed sales
Item 7: Aetna Insurance Account, 1875Add to your cart.
Report from branch office in Cincinnati (fire and inland)
Item 9: Pamphlet, 1896Add to your cart.
Letter by John Latham on "Free Coinage of Silver Considered" by Democratic Honest Money League of America
Item 10: Religious Tract, undatedAdd to your cart.
American reform and tract society point "On Slavery" owned by church ministers and church members
Item 11: Religious Tract, undatedAdd to your cart.
The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly. Presbyterian Board of Publication. Philadelphia.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Item 1: How to teach deaf and dumb language (chart), 1870Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Subject/Index Terms:
Sign language.

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