Sarah Brown Mason
I honestly have no idea what makes me focus on any particular person in a family, but it frequently happens. I always try to work the family as a group. So I worked by great-great-grandparents Frances Brown and William Frith along with with their children. Then I move back and worked Frances’s parents and her siblings. While it’s a great genealogical technique to develop more information (children’s birth and death certificates often provide middle and maiden names), it can lead to strange emotional attachments. My usual plan is to look at the siblings, figure out who they married and then simply try to establish who their children were. I rarely dig too deeply into all the kids and their marriages, but sometimes, especially on these older families, I get caught up in them. Before I know it, I’ve spent a week trying to figure out the maiden name of my second great grandmother’s nephew’s wife or who the parents were of her niece’s husband. Collateral family can be just as contagious as ringworm.
Some of Frances Brown Frith’s siblings passed quickly across my desk without much information to help my search. The fact that there was a family plot helped tremendously when dealing with a family named Brown in New York City and Brooklyn in this era. Determining which William Brown or James Brown was ours often came down to who disappeared after one of them wound up in the plot. Three of Frances’s siblings drove me to distraction as I worked through the list of ten. I simply couldn’t let these three kids or their families go until I chased them down. Sarah – the oldest, Edward – the disappearing, and Mary Anne – the caretaker. I’ve spent a ton of time on them because they wouldn’t let me walk away. I’m going to tell you all I know and believe about these three because that always seems to be how I find out more.
First up – Sarah Brown Mason – the oldest. She was born in 1811 in Sussex, England. As with most of her siblings, I haven’t yet found a christening record for her. She and her siblings are on the top of my research list when I go to Salt Lake City this spring.
She married William Mason in St Nicholas Church, Brighton on 19 Sep 1830.1 William was born about 1805 in Lewes, Sussex, England and worked as a coach maker or coach trimmer. They, along with their two small sons, William born 1831 and Henry born 1834, immigrated to New York on the Henry Thompson with her parents and siblings and arrived on 11 Apr 1835.2 I did not find a William Mason on the 1840 Census that fit the known family parameters, but that’s not uncommon for that census record. Sarah died about 1849 and was interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery on 14 Jan 1849.3 Based on her listed age at death (38) and her birth year from the passenger record, it is probable that her death prompted the timing of the relocation of her siblings. She shares grave 17 in lot 161, Sec 2, with two of her siblings.
The search should have ended there – daughter born, died, and burial location noted. But I couldn’t leave it alone. What happened to her husband and children? Why the hell couldn’t I locate William and his sons on the 1850 Census? If they were dead that soon then they would have been in the family plot, so they had to still be alive.
It annoyed me that I was struggling to locate them five years ago, so when I revisited the family this year I went into “Break out the coffee and energy bars – it’s now a quest!!” mode.
I believe that their youngest child Henry probably died very young. I found no evidence of him after his arrival and he’s not in the family plots. It is possible he left home and went west, but I simply can’t tie anyone I’ve found to this family.
As is often the case, I only found William Mason Senior after I quit searching for him and switched my focus to Junior. I have no idea why this happens when the two men have the same name, but sometimes the Search Gods just like to mess with me. Truthfully, I thought they might have left New York after Sarah’s death and even looked at the possibility of them returning to England. But then I found a U.S. Passport Application for William Mason of Brooklyn, New York, who had been born 13 Dec 1831, is Lewes, Sussex, England4 – the same location that one of Sarah’s brothers had claimed as his birth location. In the details, William Mason stated he’d arrived aboard the Henry Thompson in March 1835 (close enough) and that he’d been a resident of the New York since his arrival. That record led me to many other records, and I was finally able to trace some of his father’s records through him. I worked completely through William Junior’s life (and his children) before going back to his father. I was only able to locate some records for Senior based on the information found on Junior’s documents.
I believe that William Senior and Sarah’s youngest child Henry died very young. I have found no evidence of him after his arrival and he’s not in either of the family plots.
William Senior and Junior did remain in New York City and Brooklyn after the death of Sarah. While I still have not yet located them on the 1850 Census, I did find them together on the 1855 New York State Census.5 Senior appears to be married to a woman enumerated as Barbery A. born about 1819 in England, who states she’s been in the city one year, placing their marriage date around 1854/55. I have found no other record for her yet. I presume she passed away prior to his next marriage.
I did not find Senior in 1860 or 1870, however I did locate him on the 1865 New York State Census6 – God bless those mid-decade census records. By 1865, Senior is 60 years old and married to Ann who’s born about 1824 (19 years younger than him) from England and there is a six year-old daughter named Alice. Truth be told, I hadn’t found William until I searched for Alice after learning of her existence when she showed up with William Junior on the 1880 Census named as his sister.7 That didn’t help for the 1870 Census though as I haven’t located Alice or William Senior yet. Because I haven’t found William or Alice in 1860 and have not yet found any marriage records for William or a birth/christening or marriage record for Alice, I can’t be sure whether she is Ann’s daughter or if she was Barbery’s.
William Senior was found in Junior’s family plot in Cypress Hills Cemetery. He died 15 Jul 1873 in Brooklyn and was interred on 17 Jul 1873.8,9 Once I had the family plot records with the interment date, I was able to locate William in the FamilySearch death records. Now that I have a certificate number, I’ll look for the image of his death record when I’m in Salt Lake City to see what other information it may contain. Neither Barbery nor Ann were interred with him in this plot. Nor have I been able to figure out what became of Alice after 1880. I found no will or probate records for William Mason Senior, nor did I find a death notice or obituary for any of them.
William and Sarah Mason’s surviving son William Mason, Junior, was born 13 Dec 1831, in Lewes, Sussex, England.10 He has an actual birth record stating his place of birth, his mother’s maiden name, and his grandfather’s name and occupation. He arrived in New York with his parents on 11 Apr 1835. In about 1853, Junior married Isadore Germain Wanser (1838-1890). They had eight known children:
Sarah Isadore Mason Binns (1854-1929)
Mary Emma Mason Mannering (1857-1933)
Anna Louise Mason Ludman (1860-1914)
Ida May Mason Mott (1862-1938)
William Henry Mason (1866-1869)
Lottie Mason (1869-1869)
William Mason (1870-1870)
Alfred Wanser Mason (1871-1872)
On 22 Mar 1892, at the age of 60, Junior married Margaret “Maggie” E. Heulls (1855-?).11 Maggie appears to have been his housekeeper for many years and appears on several census records with the family.
Junior died 22 Jan 1895 in Brooklyn, Kings, New York. He was interred in Cypress Hills, in Sec 17, E-1/2, Lot 78, grave 2, with his first wife and 6 of his children.12,13 At the time of his death 4 of his daughters were still alive and 3 contested his will, which left everything to his 2nd wife Margaret. The will was upheld as valid. The probate file is available on Ancestry.
1. Marriage Record, Sara Brown to William Mason, 19 Sep 1830, Family Search. Cit. Date: 9 Jun 2014.
2.”New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online images(accessed 12 May 2014), manifest, Henry Thompson, 11 Apr 1835, William Brown and Family. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
3. Interment Records, William Brown Family Plot Lot 161, Sec 2, Cypress Hills Cemetery, Sarah Mason, age 38, interred 14 Jan 1849 at the same time as her brothers John and George.
4. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database and images, Ancestry.com (accessed 9 Nov 2015); William Mason born 13 Dec 1831, Lewes, Sussex, England, arrived 1835, a resident of New York City and Brooklyn since arrival, appliction dat 5 Apr 1892, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.
5. 1855, New York, population schedule, New York City, Ward 20, New York, New York, p. E.D.2, family 614, line 19, William Mason 50, Barbery A. Mason 36, William Mason 24; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 10 Nov 2015).
6. 1865 NewYork State Census, Brooklyn, Ward 9, Kings, New York, p. 44, family 288, line 9, William Mason 59, Ann Mason 41, Alice J. Mason 6; digital images(accessed 10 Nov 2015).
7. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, enumeration district (ED) 238, p. 418B, dwelling 171, family 192, Wiliam Mason 45, Isidor Mason 18, Louise A. Mason, 18, Ida Mason 16, Alice Mason 20; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 Nov 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 856.
8. “New York Death Records,” database(accessed 10 Nov 2015), William Mason, 15 Jul 1873; citing Death, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,323,704.
9. Cypress Hills Cemetery (Brooklyn, Queens, New York), Plot Records, William Mason Sr., interred 17 Jul 1873, E 1/2, Lot 78, Sec 17.. Cit. Date: 10 Nov 2015.
10. England, birth certificate for William Mason, Son of William and Sarah Mason, born 13 Dec 1831; Lewes, Sussex, England registration district, Non-Comromist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970, Piece 4674: Dr Williams’ Library, Index to Birth Certificates, 1828-1837 sub-district. Cit. Date: 9 Nov 2015.
11. “New York, New York, marriage Indexes 1866-1937,” database(accessed 13 Nov 2015), Certificate #1039, William Mason to Margaret E. Heulls 22 Mar 1892, Kings.
12. “New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848,” database, New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848 (accessed 10 Nov 2015), William Mason, age 63, died 22 Jan 1895, Kings, Cert #1701.
13. Cypress Hills Cemetery (Brooklyn, Queens, New York), Plot Records, E 1/2, Lot 78, Sec 17, William Mason, interred 27 Jan 1895, grave 2.