BENJAMIN F. MASON, M. D.
In the death of Benjamin F. Mason, on December 26, 1927, San Leandro lost one of its most learned, useful and distinguished
citizens, a man who for more than a half century had filled a large place in the life of his community and had
held an exalted place in public regard. An able physician, skilled surgeon, accomplished scholar and savant, he
was long looked upon as one of the first citizens of Alameda county, and he dignified his profession and honored
his locality by his efficient and self sacrificing professional labors and his loyal and constant interest in the
welfare of his fellowmen and the advancement and progress of his community. Dr. Mason was born in San Francisco,
California, on the 8th of November, 1852, and was the only child born to Daniel and Elizabeth Mason. The father
was a native of England and the mother of Pennsylvania, in which state they were married, and in 1851 they made
the long voyage around Cape Horn to California, residing in San Francisco until about 1861, when they moved to
a large farm near Livermore, later settling in San Leandro, where both parents died.
Benjamin F. Mason attended the public schools and then matriculated in the medical department of the University
of California, from which he was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1875. One of his college chums
and longtime friends was the late Fred Button, who became eminent in the legal circles of Oakland. On completing
his medical education, Dr. Mason located in San Leandro, where he was the pioneer physician, and through the subsequent
years he devoted himself indefatigably to his life work, thousands of people throughout this section of the county
receiving the benefits of his knowledge and skill. An accurate diagnostician and familiar with the properties and
powers of medicines, he was more than ordinarily successful in combating disease, while as a surgeon he proved
the equal of any of his contemporaries. In hundreds of homes in this locality he was the trusted and beloved family
physician, trusted because of his skill and loved because of his sincerity and faithfulness, and in these homes
many felt that a wall of protection had fallen from around them when he was taken away.
In October, 1898, in San Leandro, Dr. Mason was married to Miss Frieda Rantzau, a native of this city, a graduate
of the Hopkins Art School, in San Francisco, and prior to her marriage a teacher of drawing in the public schools
of San Leandro. She was talented in art and gained a wide reputation for her paintings, many of which adorn the
home in San Leandro. Among the notable works produced by her is a large painting of the battle of Gettysburg, that
has attracted much attention and favorable comment wherever exhibited and for which she refused an offer of one
thousand dollars. A woman of lovable qualities, kind and generous in all of her social relations, she was held
in affectionate regard by all who knew her, and her death, which occurred at Fabiola hospital, Oakland, October
29, 1923, was regarded as a distinct loss to the community in which she had spent her life. To Dr. and Mrs. Mason
were born three children, namely: Ruby M., a former student at the University of California, who has been head
of the Mason household since her mother's death; Flossie, who is the wife of Roland Boucher, of Oakland; and Charles,
who is about to enter the University of California.
Dr. Mason, though closely devoted to his professional work, found time to interest himself in other lines of effort,
and, being a man of marked literary taste and talent, did considerable writing, being the author of a number of
short stories and books, his best known work being a Civil war story entitled "The Village Mystery and Through
the War to Peace." He took a deep interest in scientific subjects and gained note as a geologist, chemist
and metallurgist, having, in 1919, received a post graduate degree from the American College of Chemistry. He made
a fine collection of minerals, fossils and Indian relics, many of which are unusual and valuable, and which are
still in the old home in San Leandro. In the early '70s the Doctor served as an army surgeon under Gen. Nelson
A. Miles, and had also acted as superintendent of a mine in northern California. He was a close personal friend
of Bret Harte, Mark Twain, General Miles and Thomas Marshall, the discoverer of gold in California. In his political
views he was a republican and at one time was a candidate for the state senate. Dr. Mason's wide professional knowledge
and his long practical experience made him a physician of great ability and enabled him to attain notable success.
Goodness was an outstanding factor in his life and character, for he had goodness of hand by which he touched unnumbered
sick and suffering bodies into healing, and a goodness of mind by which he attained an unchanging attitude of kindness,
generosity and good will toward his fellowmen. His patients had unbounded confidence in him because of his sincerity,
his honesty and his integrity as a physician, together with his nobility of character and his thorough going uprightness
as a man. San Leandro honored him greatly, esteemed him highly, loved him dearly, will miss him sorrowfully, and
will ever remember him with gratitude.
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928
Alameda County, CA
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