I just received copies of two books my Great Great Grandfather, Edward Gay Mason published on the History of Chicago and Illinois. Unfortunately, he died before completing what he expected to be a three volume history of Illinois. I’m just beginning to learn more about this history on my mother’s side and I hope to learn more about my father’s family history. Both sides are inextricably tied to Chicago.
I suppose many people have a sense of the way they move through this world comes from what the behavior and events our ancestor’s faced. Although I have always been secured in my own practice as an artist, this often entailed going off into other disciplines and discovering more about myself and the things I cling to.
Early Chicago and Illinois (1890) by Edward Gay Mason
Chapters From Illinois History (1901) by Edward Gay Mason
Edward Gay Mason was the eldest son of Roswell B. Mason, who I am beginning to understand to have been an important civil engineer in America’s expansion west into the “Hinterlands” and who was Mayor of Chicago during the Chicago Fire of 1871.
“MASON, Edward Gay, historian, was born in Bridgeport, Conn., Aug. 23, 1839; son of Roswell B. and Harriet L. Mason. Roswell B. Mason removed from Connecticut to Chicago, Ill., when that place was a village; was a civil engineer, mayor of the city, and was influential in encouraging business enterprises. Edward Gay Mason was prepared for college in Chicago and was graduated at Yale in 1860. He was admitted to the bar in 1863 and in March, 1865, formed a law partnership under the firm name of Mattocks & Mason. He subsequently practised in partnership with his brothers Alfred and Henry, under the firm name of Mason Brothers. He was married, Dec. 25, 1867, to Julia M. STARKWEATHER of Chicago, Ill. He was president of the Chicago Bar association, the Chicago Literary club, the University Club of Chicago, and the Chicago Historical society, 1887-98, and was a member of various historical societies; a fellow of Yale, 1891-98, and was named successor to President Timothy Dwight of Yale in 1898.
He contributed historical articles to magazines and is the author of numerous papers on the early history of Illinois collected and published as Chapters from Illinois History (1901). He died in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 18, 1898″ [The 20th Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol.7, p.284].
Just a year ago you couldn’t find books like these, but today with on-demand printing and Google Books posting more esoteric and old books, I’m suddenly able to find things I never knew existed. This is changing what we know the about the past.