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John M. Mason, a well-known farmer of the Fifteenth District, was born October 22, 1819, in North Carolina, and came to Smith (now Dekalb) County in 1827. He was the seventh of thirteen children born to Wiley and Nancy (Bensy) Mason. The father was born January 31, 1785, in Virginia. He served in the war of 1812, and was mustered out at the close of the war at Norfolk, Virginia. He moved to Caswell County, N. C., and from there to Smith County in 1827. He was a man of considerable intelligence, well versed in the Bible, in which he took a deep interest. He was also thoroughly posted on all political subjects. His death occurred in 1840. His father was a native of Whales. Mrs. Nancy Mason was born October 4, 1783, and died in North Carolina.
Our subject had but limited educational advantages until after his majority. He attended the common schools of the county. He worked as an overseer and manager for several years. He then farmed on rented land until he was able to purchase forty-two acres near Riddleton, Smith County. From time to time he has added to his place, and now owns 400 acres, well cultivated and improved, and a house and lot in Smithville. For nine years he has been magistrate, and trustee of the Earl Academy two years. From 1859 to 1880 he was engaged in the tanning business, also in general merchandising, always meeting with success. He is a life-long Democrat; cast his first presidential vote for Martin Van Buren.
In 1849 he married miss Eliza, the youngest of six children of Nicholas and Sarah (Compton) Smith. Mrs. Mason was born September 4, 1833, in Wilson County. This union resulted in the birth of Mary E. afterward Mrs. James Turner (deceased); Robert Wiley and Adelia (deceased). Mr. and Mrs. Mason are respected and earnest members of the Missionary Baptist Church.