Edward Gay Mason

Edward Gay Mason was born August 23,1839, one of five sons
of Roswell B. Mason, the mayor of Chicago at the time of the
Great Fire (1871). Four of the five sons, including Edward, were
members of the Literary Club. Edward graduated in 1860 from
Yale, where he was editor of the Yale Quarterly, and later became
a member of the Yale Corporation.

Mason practiced law in Chicago with his brother-in-law. Henry
G. Miller, who was also a member of the Literary Club.
He was
sometimes called to Europe in connection with his practice and
would use those occasions to fill trunks with German toys to bring
home for his children. While in England on business in the fall of
1871, the Great Fire consumed his office and its contents.

As president of the Chicago Historical Society, Mason was in-
strumental in that organization's erecting its large stone building
on Dearborn Street. He published numerous articles on Illinois
history and was working on a book on the subject at the time of
his death. He left enough material for an eight-volume work,
which was published in 1901 by Herbert S. Stone & Company as
Chapters from Illinois History.

Mason had thirteen children who lived past childhood, ten of
them boys all of whom went to Yale. Before that, these ten boys at-
tended a private school which had a scale of tuition that dimin-
ished with each additional pupil from a family, in consequence of
which the tuition for one of the ten boys was zero.
That boy was
known as the "free" Mason.

Mason was a member of the Chicago Literary Club from 1874,
the year of its founding, until his death in 1898. He was presi-
dent of the Club in 1878-79. He presented ten papers, three
of which dealt with the history of Illinois: Old Fort Chartres, The
March of the Spaniards Across Illinois, and A Chapter from a History
of Illinois.

Read before the Club:  March 15, 1999