Almost exactly 165 years after Col. Charles C. Mason set off on the journey from North Carolina to the settlement of Bagdad, Texas, two historical artifacts that made the trip with him have been donated to the City of Leander.
Trunks carrying the belongings of some of the 300 people who made the trek have been passed down through the Mason family to Karen R. Thompson and her daughter Kathy, who have now entrusted their care to the city.
Mayor Chris Fielder said he found out about the artifacts through discussions with Karen and suggested they be donated to the city, restored and put on display.
“Thankfully for me, she (Karen) bought into that idea,” he said as the trunks were unveiled during last week’s Leander City Council meeting.
Mason and others left North Carolina on Oct. 15, 1851 with 100 wagons, traveling a maximum of 400 miles per day, and bringing all their goods with them in trunks loaded on the wagons, Karen said.
“To think that these trunks came over in those wagons bringing their stuff on that trip is pretty amazing,” she said.
The City of Leander also has restored Mason’s historic homestead at 1101 South Bagdad, which serves as a rental space managed by the Leander Parks and Recreation Department. Mason, a Civil War veteran, is buried in the Bagdad Cemetery. The city now adds two of Mason’s personal artifacts to the items that tell the early history of the area. The restored trunks are encased in custom-made wood and glass cases. One will be displayed at Leander City Hall and the other at C.C. Mason Elementary School.
“For millenia, our ancestors put their most valuable possessions in trunks,” Kathy said. “Sometimes they put everything that they had into trunks. That’s kind of humbling, because we all have all kinds of stuff now and there’s no way we could fit everything we owned into a trunk.”