Samuel Mason was born on November 8, 1739 to a prominent Virginia family. He spent some portionof his teen years on the wrong side of the law, stealing horses from a neighbor. However, after being wounded and caught, he stopped the horse thievery. He married Rosanna Dorsey in 1767, with whom he had eight children. In 1773, Mason moved his family to Ohio County, Virginia (present-day West Virginia), where he later served in the Ohio County Militia Virginia State Forces during the war. He achieved the rank of captain was put in command of Fort Henry in the Ohio frontier.
After recovering from his wounds, Mason continued on at Fort Henry for another two years, then moved to Washington County, Pennsylvania, and a 500-acre farm he’d bought. There, he became a Justice of the Peace and an associate judge, all while working his property and attaining several horses, cows, sheep, and four slaves. However, he fell deep in debt, though he somehow managed to continue paying taxes on the property and animals. People accused him of being a thief, causing Mason to abandon his property and flee to Kentucky in 1784. A year later, his property was sold in a sheriff’s sale, which repaid only a portion of the money he owed. In 1789, a Pennsylvania court sent someone to hunt Mason down and collect the outstanding debt, though they failed in their mission.
In 1799, a vigilante group called “The Exterminators” drove the Mason gang out of Cave-In Rock,causing the band to move south again, this time into Spanish Louisiana and the Natchez Trace of Mississippi, where they continued their pattern of robbing and killing the travelers along the wilderness thoroughfare. By now, they’d become notorious desperados—some of the early precursors to western outlaws like Jesse James and others.
In 1802, bounties were put out for the gang members. They were captured at least once, though they escaped. Some accounts say that Mason killed the boat commander in his getaway, adding another life to his brutal outlaw career. When the Americans upped the bounty on Mason and his gang in 1803, an old “friend” found the reward too tempting to resist. Wylie Harpe found Mason, murdered and beheaded him, and took the trophy to the Mississippi territorial offices to prove he’d captured the desperado. Harpe was quickly identified as an outlaw in his own right, in part for his time spent with the Mason gang, and he was subsequently arrested and hanged.
Thus ends the story of Samuel Mason.
It’s your turn: Do you find the stories of heroes-turned-villains like Sam Mason to be interesting, repulsive, or both?
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won five writing competitions and finaled in two other competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.
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Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.