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Francema Mason - Otis Mason correspondence

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Mason

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, mainly addressed to Francema Mason, including letters from Otis Mason during his Civil War service with the 129th Illinois Infantry in the South.

Otis Mason's Civil War letters indicate that he marched to Bowling Green, Kentucky in November, 1862. The 129th Regiment reached Mitchellville, Tennessee as a garrison unit in December, 1862, and they reached Nashville, Tennessee by October, 1863. Otis Mason marched across Georgia in 1864 to join the army under the command of General Sherman. The letters largely consist of his concerns for his wife's well-being and details of his daily routine. Otis Mason also discusses the regiment's movements and comments on Union generals such as Sherman and Rosecrans. Many of the letters are cross-written.

Unless otherwise specified, all other letters from friends and family are addressed to Francema Mason. A friend originally from Fairbury, Illinois and who had moved to Topeka, Kansas writes of the women's suffrage movement in Kansas in 1876. A relative writes about Native Americans and the gold rush from Deadwood, South Dakota in July, 1876. A wedding invitation for the 1873 wedding of Daniel Crompsey and Nora Caldwell is also included.


  • Creation: 1863-1876
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1863-1868



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Francema Mason - Otis Mason correspondence is open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum, and items in each folder will be counted before and after delivery to the patron (Priority I).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Francema Mason - Otis Mason correspondence is the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biographies of Francema and Otis Mason

Illinois Union soldier and his spouse, whose families originated in New York and Vermont.

Francema Agnes Smith was born on January 18, 1837 at Orwell, Addison County, Vermont. Otis Sylvester Mason was born September 2, 1833 in Rural, Steuben County, New York. Francema Smith and Otis Mason married on August 15, 1862 in Pontiac, Livingston County, Illinois. Otis Mason enlisted with Company E of the 129th Illinois Infantry on August 9, 1862; and he served in the Civil War as a sergeant. He was wounded and subsequently discharged May 25, 1865.

Otis and Francema Mason had six children: William Burnside (1864), Laura Elizabeth (1868), Ora Smith (1870), Fannie Adelia (1873), Arminta (1875), and Earl Arthur (1880). By 1870, the Mason family had moved to Pawnee City, Nebraska, and by the late 1870s, they moved again to Tecumseh, Nebraska. Francema and Otis Mason died in Tecumseh, Nebraska: Francema on September 6, 1911, and Otis Mason on May 25, 1919.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Nineteen letters from Otis Mason, a sergeant in the Civil War to his Illinois wife, Francema Otis. Twelve letters from various friends and family, and a wedding invitation are also included.


Letters arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

1 41 2


Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum Rare Manuscripts and Archives, October 2002.

Processed by

Claudette Rocan, 2003.

Inventory of the Francema Mason - Otis Mason correspondence, 1863-1876, bulk 1863-1868
Claudette Rocan
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States