Friday, October 18, 2013

Friend of Friends Friday: Gerard Mason, Slave Owner

In 1849, Gerard Mason, slave holder and owner of "Wood Bridge" plantation, was killed by Agnes, a slave woman.  The accounts of the day vary, from self defense (in Northern newspapers) to murder (Southern).  Agnes was tried, convicted, and hanged in 1850.  Her ghost is rumored to haunt the Brentsville Jail, where she was confined and later executed.

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Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD) - December 21, 1849 - Mr. Gerard Mason, living near Colchester, Prince William county, was killed on yesterday by one of his servant women.  It appears Mr. M. had been from home, and returned under the influence of liquor.  He became offended with something the woman had done, and threatened to kill her with an axe; she warded off the blow, and wresting the axe from him, struck the blow that killed him.  The poor negro made no effort to escape.

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA) - January 10, 1850 - At the County Court of Prince William on Monday last, Agnes, a negro woman, the property of Gerard Mason, deceased, was tried for the murder of her master, found guilty, and sentenced to be hung.  In the absence of the attorney for the Commonwealth, the prosecution was conducted by Francis L. Smith and E. Hunton, and the defence by Daniel Jasper.  We learn from one who witnessed the trial that the evidence established, beyond a rational doubt, that Mr. Mason was killed in his bed, most probably whilst asleep, by blows inflicted with an axe by the accused.

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Alexandria Gazette - February 9, 1850 - NEGROES FOR SALE - I will offer for sale on the 14th inst., at Woodbridge, near Occoquan, Prince William Co. Va., seventeen likely young negroes.  Terms Cash.  - Richard Atkinson, Administrator of Gerard Mason, dec'd., Prince William County, feb. 9 - eots

Alexandria Gazette - January 19, 1850 - NEGROES FOR SALE - I will offer for sale, to the highest bidder, on the first Monday in February next, in Brentsville, before the front door of the Court House, for cash, two Negro Men belonging to the estate of Gerard Mason, dec'd. - Richard Atkinson, Adm'r of Gerard Mason, dec'd, Prince William Co., jan 7 - eots

Alexandria Gazette - September 20, 1823 - Twenty Dollars Reward. Ran Away from the subscriber, livingin Prince William County, Va. on the 15th instant, a negro man named BILL, about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, between 20 and 25 years of age, one of his hands has been much burnt when a child, which prevents him from opening it.  His clothing consisted of country cloth much worn.  i will give the above reward for apprehending and securing said fellow so that I get him again, and reasonable charges if brought home.  Masters of vessels and others, are cautioned against carrying him off.  Gerard Mason, Sept. 18.

Alexandria Gazette - January 4, 1823 - RANAWAY from the subscriber on Sunday, the 3d of November, a black man named WILL, about five feet 7 or 8 inches high, between 40 and 45 years of age, had on when he went away a white round-about and black trowsers of trilled country coth.  He has lost two of his front teeth, has a down look when spoken to, and a scar on his nose.  He lived a few years ago with mr. Wm. McCarty, in Loudoun county.  I will give the above Reward for securing said Negro in any jail and all reasonable charges paid if brought home.  Gerard Mason.  Prince William County, (Va) dec 21


  1. Hi Carolyn-

    I am interested in learning more about Gerard Mason. Can you tell me more about how you accessed the newspapers above. It looks like they have been digitized. I can;t find such early years of the Alexandria Gazette on Chronicling American any other online source.

    Best, Brandon Johnson

    1. Hi Brandon,

      The newspapers are digitized. Different titles are accessible via or, which are both subscription services. I believe you can access Genealogybank through certain libraries, such as the RELIC room in Bull Run.

      All best, Carolyn