In My Opinion...

The Future of Mason County Population

Thanks to a recent conversation, I started wondering about the population of Mason County over the years since its founding. I knew we've had more people in the past; but, I was unsure of how many, and just what happened to them.
Here are some of the interesting numbers I found at population.us that tell our story.
1860 - 630
1870 - 678
1880 - 2,655
1890 - 5,180
1900 - 5,573
1910 - 5,683
1920 - 4,824
1930 - 5,511
1940 - 5,378
1950 - 4,945
1960 - 3,780
1970 - 3,356
1980 - 3,683
1990 - 3,423
2000 - 3,735
2005 - 3,813
2010 - 4,012
2014 - 4,013
The two biggest jumps in Mason County population were in the decade between 1870 and 1880, and the following decade of 1880 and 1890. That's easy to explain, as settlement was being encourage, the frontier was being tamed, and land prices in the far flung reaches of Texas (which is what we were considered) were relatively inexpensive. Additionally, all those farms and ranches needed lots of labor to run their operations, so there were lots of support jobs available for folks who couldn't afford to buy their own land.
The population increase continued all the way up to 1910 when we hit our highest numbers. And then, a drop. The easiest answer to the drop would be follks who left to serve in World War I and didn't come back to Mason after fighting ended.
And then, an increase once more before dropping off considerably between 1940 and 1960. Consider that many who served in World War II, like in the earlier conflict, decided to enter the job force in cities rather than returning to Mason County. Add to that the severe drought ravaging Texas during the same period, and the exodus of folks to other areas makes perfect sense.
Since 1960, the poulation has stayed between 3,300 and 4,000 people. We actually have more folks living in the county today than during the 60s and 70s. Yet, many people remember that period as more prosperous, more active, more bustling than what we have today.
There were multiple grocery stores, barber shops, a hotel, jewelry stores, dress shops... the list goes on and on. Of course, since this period coincides with my own memories, I can recall that most families didn't have more than one or two cars, and at least one of those was usually reserved for the farm/ranch.
I also remember that going out of town, even to Fredericksburg, was an isolated event, not a weekly trip. My own family was over at Brady quite often; but, that was because my grandparents lived there, and we were half way between Mason and Brady. Trips to San Angelo or Brownwood were special occasions reserved for big purchases or big events.
And then, we all started driving. Gas was cheap ($0.23 per gallon) and it became commonplace to head to Austin, San Antonio, Dallas or Houston. During the same time, new sources of financial aid became available to potential college students. People who might have spent their lives in the county got college degrees and jobs in other cities and other states.
People shopped elsewhere. They lived elsewhere. They came home to visit, and sometimes they even returned to retire; but, Mason was not the place they raised their families. Until just after 2000. With the 911 attacks in 2001, people began seeking safe and secure places to raise their children. Increasing access to technology, and the ability to actually make a decent living in Mason, began bringing folks "back home," some for the very first time.
We're up by almost 300 folks since 2000, and it appears that we're either holding steady or continuing a slow increase. The place we call home has changed multiple times since our founding. The reasons for living here, and the reasons for either staying or leaving, keep changing. But, we're here now, and it's up to us how we move forward.
Let's see if we can be the large community we were in 1910, and this time, find a way to safely, securely and comfortably maintain or grow those numbers. We've been there before, so we know we can do it again.
It’s all just my opinion.

The Power of Social Media

The Mason, Texas Facebook page recently arrived at the significant milestone of 3,000 FANS! The page is used to promote tourism in Mason County by sharing history, stories, events and happenings that might encourage visitors to venture to our fine town.

Page administrators, Sally Martin and Tony Plutino highlight Mason businesses and activities. The Mason Chamber of Commerce phone number and website are listed as contacts on the page. The Mason Chamber of Commerce page has 881 fans, so the Mason, Texas page is a healthy adjunct to promote tourism.
Does social media help, you might ask? Recently Dos Rios was highlighted on the Mason, Texas page in a post that contained a link to their website. The new owner Colin Suttles keeps track of these things through analytics; visits to his website, etc... The post got a lot of LIKES and SHARES from the page fans. Tony Plutino called Colin to let him know how popular the post was and to ask if he noticed any change in traffic. Colin said, ““That’s awesome. I was wondering why my website traffic spiked around then. Got something like 4 or 5x my usual traffic. 131 vs an average of 20-30. Nice work! And thanks.”
The Mason, Texas page is currently supported as an act of service to the community by the administrators. Most of the feedback about the page has been positive, with the rare criticism from residents. If you haven’t LIKED the page, go do so. LIKE and SHARE the posts with your friends and out of towners. It does make a difference in tourism and helps local businesses stay in the black.
Colin’s evidence and appreciation of our work was a welcome boost to the efforts of the Mason, Texas page administrators which I wanted to share.
Thank you to all of our fans, retailers, entertainers, events, wineries, Seaquist House etc... who offer so many fine events to share with the world.

Letters to the Editor


I thank the editor of the MASON COUNTY NEWS for writing his editorial in remembrance of the victims of the hateful attack in Orlando. And I feel immense pride in my Country when, by order of the President of the United States of America, I see the flag of the United States of America flying at half staff at our United States of America post office as an act of respect for those same victims.
Sally Capps

Letters to the Editor


As I sit back and watch people, and listen to them speak, it becomes clear that they have convinced themselves that there is a Heaven, but no Hell; rewards, and no punishments; good, but no evil; bad judgements, but no sin! This is contrary to God’s Word? Who says the Bible is anything but just another great history book? One religion says Christ the great teacher is dead! Another religion teaches that a man must make intercession to the Father for sin! Another yet teaches that all can live, do, speak, and go where we will, after all, we are all looking for the same God, just taking different roads to get there! So were the people of the earth at the Tower of Babel! We have come full circle again, and God won’t spare man His wrath this time. Man is once again coming together in so-called unity, to do away with God, and then dictate life as he thinks. However, God’s Word has already predicted precisely how long man would live on the earth, and it has recorded also the signs and the conditions, that we, who are saved, could watch for, and know that the end of time is near. We are the terminal generation, and your plans, your denying the prophecy, your level of intellectual garble, won’t hinder, stop or altar God one bit!! What we have done as a people in this country, is re-write the King James Bible to satisfy those who have itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3) so as not to offend men. I would rather tell you a truth and offend you, than a living God who is going to judge us all! Just like there is only one authorized K.J. Bible, there is ONLY one road to salvation! See Acts 4:12 and John 10:1. PERIOD! It’s that simple. We have, as a Nation collectively turned our backs on God. We will pay a high price for the utter confusion we now subject our children to. Our only hope is that we seek God’s face, on our knees, with Psalm 51:17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despite, in our hearts. If America does not turn now it must brace for the coming judgement!!!
Rev. Arthur F. Nelms, Sr.

From the Librarian's Shelf...

Take a walk on the wild side with Wild Things Zoofari tomorrow at 1:00 P.M. Admission is free, and the kids will love it! It will be in lieu of Read to Swim, but the kids will get swim passes for attending. Don’t forget Angel Arredondo will be signing her debut book I Love My Red Wagon on Saturday from 3:00-6:00 P.M. She’ll be reading to the kids on Monday, June 27 at 1:00 P.M.

Cutting Edge 1
The Cutting Edge2: Chasing the Dream
Dirty Grandpa
Orange Is the New Black: Season 3
Mr. Selfridge: Season 4
Call the Midwife: Season 5
Pride + Prejudice + Zombies
Triple 9
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Island House by Nancy Thayer (CD F THA)
Non-fiction: (new to our library)
Genealogy Online for Dummies by Matthew L. Helm & April Leigh Helm (929.1072 HEL)
The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold & John Penycate (743.7 PIT)
Fiction: All quotes are from publishers’ summaries
Liberty’s Last Stand by Stephen Coonts (F COO)
“Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the law when a public act of violence throws the country into chaos just before a presidential election. They must risk everything to unravel a massive conspiracy.”
Tom Clancy’s Duty and Honor by Grant Blackwood (F CLA/BLA Jr.10)
“On forced leave from the clandestine intelligence group known as The Campus, Jack Ryan, Jr., still finds himself caught in the crosshairs after a thwarted attempt on his life. Convinced that the attack is linked to his recent covert actions with the convalescing Iranian national Ysabel Kashini, Jack sets out to find out who wants him dead, and why.”
Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand (F HIL)
“Celebrity Chef Deacon Thorpe’s shocking death has left his (messy, complicated) family reeling. Now Deacon’s three wives, his children, and his best friend gather on the island he loved to say farewell. As they a grieve they find solace where they least expect it.”
Foreign Agent by Brad Thor (F THO Har.15)
“Terrorism in Europe has spun out of control. The United States has decided on a dramatic response. Now the CIA needs a very special kind of operative and Scot Harvath has exactly the skills the CIA is looking for.”
Widow-maker by Paul Doiron (F DO”I Bow.7)
“When a mysterious woman in distress appears outside his home, Mike Bowditch has no clue she is about to blow his world apart. Amber Langstrom is beautiful, damaged, and hiding a secret with a link to his past.”
The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher (F FIS Bis.2)
“With the Amish church of Stoney Ridge facing a crisis, minister David Stoltzfus must decide if a Quieting will solve the problem...or make it worse.”
Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas (F KLE)
“Lady Helen Ravenel, must trust Rhys Winterborne with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable . . . the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with...marrying Winterborne.”
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Location: 410 Post Hill; Phone: 325-347-5446; FAX: 325-347-6562; Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1785, Mason, TX 76856; E-mail: [email protected]; Web Site: www.masontexaslibrary.com

Outdoors Outpost

Friends and enemies

By now everyone has heard about the horrible tragedy in Orlando, where 49 innocent people were killed and more than 50 were wounded because of hate. As usual, fingers are being pointed in several directions as various groups either try to accurately reveal the cause of the massacre or to further their particular agenda. As usual, most fingers are pointed in the wrong direction.
This is not a political column. I write political commentary for Texas Fish & Game magazine - here I do my best to entertain. But I can’t ignore this. There isn’t anything entertaining about people being murdered for ideological reasons, or any other reason. And no matter how we view this crime, hate was the root cause.
Abraham Lincoln once famously asked, “Have I not destroyed my enemy when I make him my friend?” Lincoln was a wise man. Still, about 260,000 Confederates died during the Civil War, almost 100,000 of them in combat. Making friends of enemies is difficult when they’re shooting at you.
This seems to be the problem America faces with ISIS. Making friends of those who hate us is a noble, admirable goal, but it seems impossible when everyone who tries it ends up dead. Not that we shouldn’t make the effort, but the distance we must maintain for safety is probably detrimental to our success. That and the hate.
The sad thing about the finger pointers is that so many of them are pointed away from ISIS, causing us to become more divided at a time when we most need to unite to effectively face this threat to not only our lives, but our way of life. ISIS doesn’t just want to kill free people, it wants to wipe out freedom completely.
This is what has me confused about the whole blame game. Groups that constantly denounce such behavior have been accused of causing it. The NRA is one such group, even though no one associated with the NRA was there. If an NRA member had been there, the death toll might have been far lower, provided he or she had broken the law in order to be equipped to protect others. The shooting took place where guns were not permitted, so no one who obeys laws was there to help, as usual. Gun free zones are target-rich environments for those who hate.
Christians were also blamed, even though no Christian ever attacks innocent people. Yes, you can bring up examples, like the Crusades from 800 years ago, if you like, but although those people called themselves Christians, they weren’t. I could call myself a bear and live in the woods, but that wouldn’t make me a bear. People who kill others because they disagree with their life choices are not followers of Christ, no matter what they might claim.
Some even blamed God, saying the killings were somehow retribution for the lifestyles of the victims. That claim is so insane I don’t even know how to address it. It’s twisted and sick and not worthy of debate. It comes from the same pool of hate that caused the attack.
The Orlando shooting was a heinous, evil act of hatred, and although it was the worst such event to date, it won’t be the last. These attacks will continue because it’s almost impossible to stamp out hate. You can, however, prepare to defend yourself and others from it. Some are offering help with that.
Buckeye Firearms Assoc. is one group that is lately offering free firearm self defense classes for the public in the wake of the Orlando massacre. They’re making a special effort to include members of the LGBT community, and there are rumors that others are doing the same. Which is a good thing, since gun sales are skyrocketing, especially among that particular demographic.
But the threat is not confined to any one group. Everyone who opposes loss of freedom is targeted. We’re involved in a war we didn’t ask for, don’t want, and can’t avoid. Those who started it call it jihad, holy war, as if war could be holy. You can deny this war exists, but that won’t make you any less a target. Your choice is whether to fight when the war comes to you, or, like the victims in Orlando, face it empty-handed. And die.
The ISIS attackers don’t much care, either way. They’re eager to die in their cause, so shouting, “Stop or I’ll shoot!” won’t have much affect. And the British equivalent, “Stop or I’ll shout stop again!” is pretty much a waste of breath. The only way to win the battle, if it comes, is to shut down the threat before you’re killed, preferably before anyone else is killed.
The only way to win the war, on the other hand, is to defeat the hate. The only way to do that would be to convert ISIS followers away from their political ideology masquerading as a religion. That would be ideal, but it’s a long game, and there will be plenty more murderous attacks of hate before that happens. How you deal with them is up to you, if you find yourself facing these jihadists.
Abe, of course, would counsel turning an enemy into a friend, but that option evidently wasn’t open to him in dealing with the Confederates, and it doesn’t seem to be open to us at this point.
In all, 620,000 Americans died during the Civil War. I hope that many don’t have to die before the current war is over . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who is a direct descendant of John Singleton Mosby, the Grey Ghost of the Confederacy. Write to him at [email protected]