John Thomson Mason, early land agent and Texas revolutionary, second son of Stevens Thomas Mason, was born at Raspberry Plains, Loudon County, Virginia, on January 8, 1787. In 1812 he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where in 1817 President James Monroe appointed him United States marshal. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson appointed him secretary of the Territory of Michigan and superintendent of Indian affairs, a position he resigned in 1831 to become confidential agent of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. The company had been organized to take over the holdings of empresarios Lorenzo de Zavala, David G. Burnet, and Joseph Vehlein, estimated to comprise twenty million acres. Mason, in Mexico City in the company's interest, found that the Law of April 6, 1830, prevented the transfer of the land to a foreign company. On a second trip to Mexico in 1833, he helped to secure the repeal of the section of the law that forbade colonization from the United States. He then resigned from the company to promote his individual landholdings in Texas.
Mason purchased from the government 300 leagues of land originally intended for donations to the militia and an additional 100 leagues from individuals. He employed John Charles Leplicher in New York to act as his land-office clerk and Archibald Hotchkiss to be his attorney-in-fact. With the cancellation of the large grants by the revolutionary government of Texas, Mason's land business was almost wiped out. Leplicher filed suit against Mason in Nacogdoches, Texas, on February 16, 1835, for salary alleged to be due and unpaid. From then until the end of the Texas Revolution Mason was usually in Nacogdoches. He was made commandant of the Nacogdoches District by the Committee of Vigilance and Safety on April 11, 1836, and resigned twelve days later. He paid $1,000 for the ship Liberty for the Texas Navy and advanced $500 for expenses of the Brutus. Some time after the revolution Mason moved to New York, but he returned to Texas several times during the 1840s. He made his last trip to Texas in 1849 and died of cholera at the Tremont House in Galveston, on April 17, 1850, at the beginning of his return trip.
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Kate Mason Rowland, "General John Thompson Mason," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 11 (January 1908). Texas State Gazette, May 4, 1850.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Robert Bruce Blake,
“Mason, John Thomson,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 19, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 26, 2018