Louisa Mason obituary, 1909

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Louisa Mason obituary, 1909


African American women-Obituaries; Maryland; Emancipation


An obituary published in the St. Mary's Beacon, July 22, 1909, honoring the life of Louisa Mason (b. 1812), an enslaved woman owned by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.


Georgetown Slavery Archive


Georgetown Slavery Archive




Melissa Kemp, Elsa Barraza Mendoza, Adam Rothman. Thanks to Melissa Kemp for providing the document to the Georgetown Slavery Archive. Elsa Barraza Mendoza prepared the transcription.









Text Item Type Metadata


Almost a Centenarian
(Written for the Beacon)
     On Saturday, July 3, 1909, there was a very large assemblage of all classes of residents at the little church of St. Inigo’s, the cause of which was to do honor to the memory of an humble colored woman, LOUISA MASON, who was born on St. Inigo’s Manor in May 1812, and was a few months beyond the age of ninety-seven years. She came into this world a slave and was the property of the Jesuits up to the time of the emancipation. As an evidence of their very high appreciation of her fealty to God and her loyalty to them, they paid her the highest possible tribute by offering up in her behalf a Solemn Mass of Requiem, in which all the grand and beautiful ceremonial of the old Catholic Church was made manifest; nor could it have been more imposing had plain and humble Louise Mason been the first lady of this or any other country. This is an evidence infallible of true and genuine religion, which honors the poor and wealthy alike, without difference save only that which merit itself establishes and must and will assert itself under any and all conditions. The writer of this very inadequate notice knew “Aunt Louisa” for eighty years, and during half that period saw her frequently at church or at the home of the Jesuit Fathers, where she was one of the domestics, till old age obliged her to retire from active labor and spend the remainder of her life with a fond and dutiful daughter. In that long lapse of time, he never heard a charge, hint or insinuation that she was not eminently honest, virtuous and obedient to her God, faithful to husband and children and all the duties of her station in life, and well deserving all the praise that the possession of these virtues brought to her as comfort and consolation in her great old age.
     The saddest trial of this old lady’s life doubtless was the foul murder of her husband, Alex Mason, on the highway between St. Nicholas Church and St. Mary’s City, but a few months before the outbreak of the Civil War. The writer was a member of the Grand Jury that investigated this tragedy and everything was done to discover the murderer, but with no success. A strange feature of this unfortunate affair was the entire absence of any rational cause that could have brought it about as Alex Mason was an excellent man and without enemies, and was too poor to excite suspicion that he had money on his person. He was waylaid and killed by a blow from an axe, and his body was discovered in the road at a late hour by Robert Hammett, at that time a merchant at Jarboesville. There was much excitement in the community on account of this tragedy, and very great sympathy for the excellent man who was murdered, and a very extensive amount of sympathetic feeling exhibited everywhere for his widow and children.
     Few have reached such mature years as the subject of this sketch, and none have died in this section of the State who left a more enviable reputation for devotion to her church and honest discharge of all her duties in life, menial and humble as they were. We are only responsible here for the talents that have been given us, and the opportunity to exercise them, and when this has been done cheerfully and well, the reward in the great hereafter to the humble dispenser of small things will be as liberal as that of the greatest and most gifted of mankind. Not only was old “Aunt Louisa” granted a remarkable longevity but, still more wonderful, preserved her faculties of sight, hearing and mind up to the last hour of her life. She was born about the commencement of hostilities between England and this country in their second encounter. Father Rantzan being the Superior at St. Inigo’s, and was two years old when St. Inigo’s mansion and the private Chapel it contained were robbed by a body of marines from the fleet of Admiral Cockburn, then at anchor off St. George’s Island, the party in the barge being under the command of Lieut. Wm Hancock, Lower Clopton, England, who was subsequently deprived of his command and put on board of a ship of inferior grade. Commodore Berry, who, was for the time, in charge of the fleet, obliged this degraded officer to return all the stolen articles, and an old chronicler has written: “I was informed by Mr. Jos Coad that Com. Berry said, if he had been the principal commander in the Bay, he would have hung Hancock without ceremony.”
     “Aunt Louisa” was trained by the ever memorable Father Joseph Carberry, who came to St. Inigo’s in 1817 and remained there until he died in May 1849. It is exceedingly doubtful if a more magnetic, active and efficient missionary ever performed duties in this State from March 1634 to the present date than was Father Carberry. This is an opinion formed on an intimate knowledge of this eminent man, who was really and truly loved by all the people about him, of all shades of color and every phase of religious opinion.
     The good old lady whose career has inspired this notice, so unworthy of her, made her entrance into this world about two years before the renowned Star Spangled Banner was written, but there were no noisy demonstrations over the event, nor were there any when she yielded up her soul to Him Who gave it, but it can hardly be surmised that any who knew this good Christian well, would rate her chances of eternal reward beyond the skies, beneath those who were large factors in making the national anthem famous the world over in song and history.
     The writer would suggest that some of the young and active take immediate steps towards erecting a monument to good Louisa Mason to perpetuate her virtues and show an appreciation of them.


Original Format




Georgetown Slavery Archive, “Louisa Mason obituary, 1909,” Georgetown Slavery Archive, accessed July 16, 2024, http://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu/items/show/91.