John Thomson Mason Rowland was born in Detroit, MI, the son of Major Isaac S. Rowland (d. 1850) and Catharine Armistead (Mason) Rowland (1818-1884). Mrs. Rowland was the descendant of a brother of George Mason of Gunston Hall, for whom George Mason University was named.
John Thomson Mason was given his maternal grandfather’s name “so that the race and name should not be obliterated,” and used the surname Mason in his honor throughout his life. Isaac S. Rowland died soon after the Mexican-American War; Mason’s great-grandfather – Captain Stephens Thomson Mason, the father of his namesake – died in battle during the same conflict. Following his father’s death, the Rowland family relocated to Fairfax Co., VA.
Mason attended Episcopal High School in Fairfax Co., VA. He volunteered for Confederate service at age 17 and served in the Seventeenth Virginia Regiment, CSA, until he was old enough to join the Navy. In 1861 he became a midshipman in the Confederate Navy, and in 1863 he began duty aboard the CSS Shenandoah. [Note: For more information about Mason’s military career, see the “Journals of Midshipman John Thomson Mason (1863-1865)” and the “Logs of the CSS Shenandoah kept by Midshipman John Thomson Mason,” in the Confederate Navy Collection held in the Library of the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA.] The Shenandoah made port in Liverpool, UK in November, 1865. From there, Mason went to South America for two years where he was a farmer. Returning to Virginia, he attended UVa for session 47 (1870-71), and was admitted to the bar after his graduation.
He practiced law in Baltimore, MD in the Mason & Rowland firm, composed of his brother Thomas Rowland (another U.Va. alumnus), and his cousin, also named John Thomson Mason. Mason became the firm after his brother and cousin died. He was considered one of the most eminent men in Baltimore, MD at the time of his death.
In 1875, Mason married Helen Jackson (b. 1851), only daughter of Alonzo C. Jackson. They had five children: Dora Mumford Mason, Stevens Thomson Mason, Gertrude Franchot Mason, Armistead Thomson Mason, and Alonzo Christopher Jackson Mason.
- Baltimore: Its History and People, vol. III–Biography. New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912. Accessed via books.google.com.
- Schaarf, J. Thomas. A history of Western Maryland. Philadelphia, PA, 1882. (Reprinted 1968)
- “J. T. Mason Dies Suddenly.” New York Times, June 22, 1901, p. 9, in ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851-2007) [database].
- 1900 U.S. Census. Maryland, Baltimore City, Ward 18, p. 234A, in: Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.