Family Stories

George W. Mason – A Grandson of the Famous George Mason IV – Lived in Daviess County

Mason Family Plot, St. Lawrence Catholic Cemetery, Knottsville, Daviess County, Kentucky.

George Mason IV, of Gunston Hall, was one of the founding fathers that helped create the United States of America, and secure our freedom from Great Britain.  He was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Constitution.  Some of the ideas and language from these two important papers were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence.

One of George Mason’s grandsons, George William Mason, owned property in Daviess County, Kentucky, arriving there with his family about 1830.  He established residence on a high bank of the Ohio River east of Owensboro and gave it the name of Clifton Lodge.  He apparently preferred a quiet life with a minimum of public notice, for the 1883 History of Daviess County mentioned his name only one time, and then to say simply that “George W. Mason died.”  The death notice was contained in a chronological list of local events which occurred during June of 1855.

George W. Mason, born at Hollin Hall in the County of Fairfax, Virginia, May 4, 1791.  Died at Clifton Lodge in the County of Daviess, Kentucky, June 11, 1855.

George W. Mason’s gravestone in St. Lawrence Church Cemetery near Knottsville in Daviess County offers his only local biographical sketch.  It tells that he was born “at Hollin Hall in the county of Fairfax, Virginia, May 4, 1791.  Died at Clifton Lodge in the county of Daviess, Kentucky, June 11, 1855.”

The Mason Hollin Hall estate was located adjacent to and upstream from George Washington’s Mt. Vernon on the Potomac, while the Mason Gunston Hall estate was separated from Mt. Vernon on the downstream side only by Belvoir.

George Mason, the grandfather, and George Washington were long time associates in local political and community affairs before the British tax squeeze caused them to take the leadership in events which led toward the colonial revolution.

Hollin Hall was an 18th-century plantation house three miles southwest of Alexandria in Fairfax County, Virginia.  George Mason gave Hollin Hall to his third son, Thomson Mason, through deeds of gift in 1781 and 1786.  The land, as given, totaled 676 acres.  Thomson Mason was the first member of the Mason family to actually live there.  Thomson Mason’s wife was Sarah McCarty Chichester, and the family celebrated Christmas of 1788 in the new house.  The house was destroyed by fire in 1824.  George W. Mason of Daviess County was the second son and fifth child of Thomson and Sarah.

George W. Mason was said to have married a Miss Patton.  In the 1850 census for Daviess County, George is 60, born in Virginia, as was Mary A., 45.  I suppose this must be his wife.  The two known children of this couple are George W., named after his father, and Eliza Frederica, who married John P. Devereaux, a circuit judge of Daviess County.  In 1859 the Devereaux’s moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and eventually Denver, Colorado.

An interesting newspaper article gives us a little glimpse of George W. Mason and family.

The Twice-A-Week Messenger, Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky

Tuesday, September 6, 1904

Pioneers of Daviess County

George W. Mason moved to this county about 1830, and settled on Yelvington Creek, where Lee Castlen now lives.  He was a Virginian and was considered the only real brought-up-and-fetched-down aristocracy in the county, as he owned the only carriage in the county – it was a handsome one-thousand-dollar affair, and as heavy as a four-horse wagon.  Boys would go for miles to the ‘big road’ on Sundays to see it pass, and make bets as to whether the hind wheels

wouldn’t run over the front ones, and then go out in the road to inspect its tracks.  Mrs. Mason was a zealous Catholic, and when funds were needed to build a new church at St. Lawrence, near Knottsville, she rode horseback all over the Green River country, soliciting contributions, and the success of the effort was mainly due to her faithful work.

Ritchey’s sister lives in Rumsey, a small town very near Owensboro, so we have visited Owensboro often, in addition to visiting for meetings.  I’ve often wondered about the name of Frederika Street – for whom was this road named?  The following article attempts an explanation, but in my opinion the author could have researched a little further.  In St. Lawrence Cemetery two young children of Eliza Frederica Mason and husband John P. Devereaux, are buried with their grandfather, George W. Mason.  In each instance her name is spelled ‘Frederica’ – the same spelling used on the street sign.  I say the road was named for her.

The Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Frederica who? still the question by Keith Lawrence

I thought for a minute there that the mystery of who Frederica Street is named for had been solved.

Circuit Judge Joe Castlen sent along a copy of a story in the June 14, 1931, Messenger-Inquirer about the rich and famous people who lived on the Old River Road in eastern Daviess County in the 19th century.

The story mentions that “down near the river was a beautiful avenue of honey locust and pecan trees that took you to ‘Clifton Lodge,’ the residence of Burr Crutcher, formerly the home of George W. Mason who married Miss Patton and was the father of Frederica Mason for whom Owensboro’s principal street was named.”

So, the street was named for Frederica Mason?  Probably not.  As Castlen wrote in his note, “Difficult to find an historical account without some inaccuracies, to don’t know if this is true or not.”  There are two discrepancies here.

First, Mason family genealogies spell her name “Fredrika.”

That’s the way most people pronounce the name of Owensboro’s main street.  But not the way it’s spelled.  And second, those genealogies say Miss Mason was born in 1820 – more than three years after David Ross and John May drew up a “Plan for Rossborough” – the town that became Owensboro.

Ross and May jointly owned 3,000 acres of land here.  They set aside 80 acres for the new town.  Today, the city has more than 11,100 acres.

There have been two legends about the street’s name.  One says that it was named for one of Ross’ slaves.  One says it was named for his daughter.  But he didn’t have a daughter named Frederica.  And there is no evidence that he had a slave – he had more than 400 – by that name.  He did have a son named Frederick A. Ross.  It wouldn’t have been the first time that the feminine form of a masculine name had been used as a place name.  Fort Frederica, Georgia, established in 1736 was named for Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales (1702-1754).  We may never know the truth of the street’s name.  But at least the search is interesting.


In addition to George W. Mason, three small children are buried in the same plot.  The Devereaux grandchildren are from his daughter Eliza Frederica.  The Baker child is most likely his grandchild by another daughter, but I could not verify.

Catherine, daughter of John P. and Eliza Frederica Devereaux, born May 9, 1849, died May 17, 1853.

John, son of John P. and Eliza Frederica Devereaux, born April 12, 1851, died September 4, 1852.

Catherine Devereaux, John Devereaux

Mary Seymour, daughter of Joshua and Catherine Baker, born August 12, 1835, died September 19, 1843.

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