ALLEN C. MASON. – The well-known fact that a city presents, as a whole, the characteristics of the individuals who compose it, finds no better illustration than in the city of Tacoma, Washington. It is wide-awake, enterprising and progressive, and is such not only because of its unrivaled location and its commanding position as the terminus of the great Northern Pacific Railroad, but because its business men are themselves possessed of a spirit of progressive enterprise, are thoroughly imbued with confidence in the great destiny of their city, and are united in their efforts to promote its welfare. Prominent among these public-spirited men, standing at the very front of progress, is Allen C. Mason, to whom Tacoma is largely indebted for its widespread reputation, and for the moneyed interest so many people have taken in it.
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Since he settled in Tacoma, Mr. Mason has done more to advance its interests than any citizen within its limits. He has had the handling of more real estate, has caused the investment of more money, has more extensively advertised its advantages, and has induced more people to cast their lot in the Terminal city, than any other of its enterprising citizens, of whom there are many. He has seen the city grow, from a few board shanties scattered among the trees and stumps, to its present grand array of brick and stone structures; and this marvelous growth, the work of but a few years, he expects to see continued until Tacoma becomes the largest city in the Northwest, to take rank with the leading commercial cities of the United States. In this future growth, as in that of the past, Mr. Mason himself will be no inconsiderable factor. A brief sketch of his life will be an index of his character and business methods.
He was born in Polo, Ogle county, Illinois, on December 22, 1855. His earlier education was received at the State Normal University, located near Bloomington, Illinois. He took a full collegiate course at the Wesleyan University, located at Bloomington, graduating therefrom in 1875. During the last year of his course in college, he was a tutor in the preparatory department. In 1876 he had charge of the Litchfield High School, and continued for three years as the superintendent of the schools at Perry, and four years thereafter was superintendent of the English training school at Jacksonville, Illinois. While engaged in this educational work, he published a system of arithmetic, geography and history, and also a manual of pedagogies entitled, “One Thousand Ways of One Thousand Teachers,” which ran through four editions in a very short time, and which can now be found on the desks of practical teachers in every state of the union.
Mr. Mason’s reputation as a teacher was based on the fact that he enthusiastically believed in practical education. He believed it was the duty of the state to give to pupils receiving instruction at the expense of the general public a thorough and practical understanding of the fundamental branches of an English education. he believed that a pupil who was able to read with readiness, to write a clear and legible hand, with every word spelled correctly, to solve any practical example which might arise in the mathematics of every-day life, to understand the geography of his country and the history connected with it, was fitted for the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. with such practical instruction in the ordinary branches of an English education, he believed that pupils would be fitted for all the ordinary requirements of active business life; and that if, after having received this education, they desired a course of instruction in the higher mathematics, sciences or languages, they could and would get that education from the private schools.
In 1878 Mr. Mason was united in marriage, in Bloomington, Illinois, to Miss Libbie L. Lawrence, who is a classical graduate of the Illinois Wesleyan University. They have been blessed with two interesting children. His sister, Lettie A. Mason, Now Mrs. Doctor William E. Quine, of Chicago, was the first medical missionary in Central China. She was sent out by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, and established the first medical dispensary at Kiukiang.
In June, 1881, Mr. Mason was admitted to the bar of the supreme court of the State of Illinois, standing second in a class of over fifty who passed examination at that term of court. Believing that the West offered greater opportunities for a young man than the East, Mr. Mason resigned his position at Jacksonville, Illinois, and early in the year 1883 removed to Tacoma, with the determination of making it his home and becoming a factor in the growth and development of the place. He engaged at once in the real-estate and loan business. During the time he has resided in Tacoma, his business has extended generally throughout the whole territory.
By means of his extensive acquaintance in the East, and by the care and attention he bestows on business intrusted to him, he has placed loans on Washington Territory real estate amounting to over two million dollars, in upwards of eighteen hundred loans. During the time he has been in business he has had but nine foreclosures of mortgages; and in every case the property brought more than the principal, interest and costs of foreclosure. No one who has made an investment through him has ever lost a dollar in principal or interest. Mr. Mason’s offices are located in the south half of the second story of the Mason Block. He has, perhaps, the most handsome and complete offices of the kind to be found in Washington. In looking after the details of his extensive business, Mr. Mason is assisted in his office by seven clerks.
The high estimation in which Mr. Mason is held by the business community is evidenced by the fact that he is expected to take a prominent part in all movements for the general welfare. He is a man of sound judgement, strict integrity, careful attention to the details of business, with a liberal and broad education, and endowed with great force of character.