The Reuben Mason House


It is impossible to know the exact age of the Dr. Reuben Mason House, at the foot of Acote's Hill in Chepachet. We do know the homestead was sold in 1756 by Joseph Pettingell to his son, John, and sold again in 1765 to Richard Bartlett, who lived in the house until 1774.

Important to our story, it was sold to a physician, Dr. Reuben Mason.

Dr. Mason was to become the surgeon to General William West's Brigade in the early battles of the American Revolutionary War, when militia trained on the plains north of Chepachet, Rhode Island. Our very own Gloucester Light Infantry may trace its heritage back to those same citizen soldiers who practiced warfare nearby.

From 1774, Dr. Mason administered to the medical needs of families of Glocester until he died, just before the turn of the century in 1799.

We presume that much of his medical practice took place in the home, of which much recent notoriety falls, where he resided with his wife and three children sons, James (also a physician) and Stephen, and daughters, Dorcas and Sophia.

After Reuben Mason died, the house was divided, according to Rhode Island law, with the children receiving a 2/3 share and his widow a 1/3 share. His wife occupied the "north" room, with privileges to the kitchen, milk cellar, and various other parts of the house. It is believed that James continued to practice medicine there until his mother died. Ultimately, the house became the sole property of Sophia and her husband, George Arnold, who sold it to Thomas Owen in March, 1805.

During the Dorr Rebellion in 1842, the Reuben Mason House was designated by the State Militia to be a field hospital, in all probability for the state troops who were marching from Greenville, Scituate, and Woonsocket. Thankfully, Thomas Dorr sought to avoid bloodshed as a result of his campaign, and, so, no troops or rebels were actually in need of medical attention during the uprising.

Dr. Mason always referred to his residence as his "mansion house." For the times, it was indeed a large and especially comfortable home, so the designation of "mansion" may not have been at all exaggerated. Upon its restoration, the house will be used by the Glocester Heritage Society as a museum to commemorate the Dorr Rebellion the forerunner of the enfranchisement movement that has made America the model of a representative democracy for the world.

Excerpted from research by Edna Kent, Glocester Historian

 

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