wa genweb

Welcome to Mason County, Washington

WA map

Mason County is 967 sq. mi. in size, and is located at the southwestern tip of Puget Sound. Mount Rainier and the Cascade Mountains are nearby to the east, while Washington's Pacific Ocean coast is just an hour west.

The county was created (from Thurston County) on 13 March 1854 under the Indian name of Sawamish County. It was renamed on 3 January 1864 to honor Charles H. Mason, first secretary of Washington Territory and acting governor during the Indian Wars. The first county seat was Oakland on Oakland Bay. The county seat was later moved to Shelton. (Map courtesy of Mike Sweeney)

Mason County Placenames
Mason County Addresses
Mason County Queries-prior to 5 September 1998 only
Mason County Queries after 5 September 1998
Mason County Surname Register
Mason County Lookup Volunteers
Links to Neighboring Counties
Other Genealogical Links

About the Washington GenWeb Project

In March and April, 1996, a group of genealogists organized the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database. The idea was to provide a single entry point for all counties in Kentucky, where collected databases would be stored. In addition, the databases would be indexed and cross-linked, so that even if an individual were found in more than one county, they could be located in the index.

At the same time, volunteers were found who were willing to coordinate the collection of databases and generally oversee the contents of the web page. The Washington GenWeb Project is an extension of the Kentucky GenWeb Project. My name is Garry Holland, and I am the coordinator for Mason County. Please contact me, if you would like to add your data to the database.

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Mason County Placenames

Shelton was named for David Shelton, who homesteaded the area in 1853. A former fur trapper, Indian fighter, and gold prospector, Shelton was a member of the first territorial legislature and succeeded in having his home area organized as Sawamish County. At a later session he sponsored a bill to change the county name to Mason.

Allyn was named for Judge Frank Allyn of Tacoma, who was involved in the formation of the town about 1889.An addition for how Allyn was named-Hi! I noticed on the Mason County, WA page that the town of Allyn, WA was started by Judge Allyn. In my family, the story is that my GG Grandfather John N. Eberhart and his brother George Philip Eberhart (who was Justice of the Peace) were co-founders of the town. They lived in Allyn in the late 1880s and they had a saloon there. John Nicholas Eberhart was married to Delilah Ellenorah Payne and George Philip Eberhart was married to Rebecca Gill. They each had several daughters who were known as the "Eberhart Girls" in town! One of the Eberhart Girls, a daughter of John & Delilah's was Martha and she married Stephen Willett. Stephen had donated land in or near Union for the first school house to be built upon. They are on the 1889 Mason County Census. Another daughter of John's, Frances, married John Shaw. In 1890 Stephen Willett and John Shaw had a salloon in Mason County (maybe in Allyn, Bellfair, or Union?) and I have one of their shotglasses. It says, "Willett & Shaw 1890" engraved on it. John and George were both veterans of the Civil War (Union side) and I believe that George is buried in Mason County. I know that John is buried in the Old Soldiers Home Cemetery in Retsil, Kitsap, WA. I would like to locate the cemetery where George is buried and then register it with the SUV, Sons of Veterans database. In his Civil War record, for some reason George Philip Eberhart's says John G P Eberhart, and it is really our George Philip. Just thought I'd e-mail, Edith "Edie" Sando sando1@cox.net

Belfair was originally called Clifton, as were several other WA towns. To avoid confusion, it was renamed in 1925 by Mrs. Murray, the postmistress, who submitted the name Belfair from a book that she was then reading.

Dewatto is a Hood Canal community that bears an adaptation of the Indian place name du-a-to, meaning "home of evil spirits who make men crazy." In Indian legend, spirits emerged from the bowels of the earth in the Dewatto Bay area and attempted to enter the bodies of normal warriors.

Grapeview was platted in 1891 as Detroit. The town was later renamed, as it faces the vineyards of the Isle of Grapes (Stretch Island)

The island community of Harstine Island was named for Lt. Henry J. Harstine, of the Wilkes expedition.

Hoodsport took its name from Hood Canal, which was named for Lord Samuel Hood by the Vancouver expedition.

Kamilche is a corruption of an Indian word meaning "valley."

Lilliwaup took its name from an Indian word meaning "inlet." Matlock was first called Mason. It was renamed in the late 1890s by early settler James Hodkinson for his home town in England.

Oakland was the original county seat. It was named in 1852 by pioneer settler William T. Morrow for a scattering of oak trees in the area.

Potlatch is named for its location at the site of a former Skokomish Indian potlatch house.

Squaxin Island, the reservation on it, and the present tribal name are derived from the Indians' original name for themselves.

Stretch Island is a small island in Case Inlet. It was named by the Wilkes Expedition for gunner's mate Samuel Stretch. In 1878 Walter Eckert established a vineyard on the island. The place became known locally as the Isle of Grapes.

Tahuya derives its name from Indian words meaning "that done," in reference to some now unknown event at that place.

Union was originally a logging center on Hood Canal, and the town was named Union City in 1858. The latter word was dropped by the post office in 1904, and by the town fathers some years later.

Victor was named in 1892, but the source of the name is unknown.
(From Washington State Placenames, by James W. Phillips, Univ. of WA Press.)

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Mason County Published Resources and Databases

Census Online
1857 Sawamish (Mason) County Territorial
1860 Sawamish (now Mason) County Federal
1860 Sawamish County (Mason) Mortality Index
1870 Mason County Federal
1870/1880 Mason County Mortality Index
1871 Mason County Territorial Part 1
1871 Mason County Territorial Part 2
1879 Mason County Territorial Part 1
1879 Mason County Territorial Part 2
1910 Mason County Federal

Mason County Cemeteries


The Mason County Historical Society (PO Box 1366, Shelton, WA 98584 360-426-1020) has the following books available on Mason County History. (Prices include postage.)
  • Family Trees, Simpson's Centennial Story, by Spector, 1990. History of Simpson Timber Co. ($36.60)
  • The Logging Camp Adventures of Marvin & Tommy, by Marvin Cartwright, 1995. The adventures of two boys who grew up in Simpson's Camp Three. ($23.50)
  • The Little Man and the Little Oyster, by Humphrey Nelson, 1990. Early years in Kamilche, and development of the oyster business in Mason County. ($10.50)
  • Logging to the Salt Chuck, by Peter Replinger & John Labbe, 1990. History of Simpson's rolling stock and maps of routes. ($41.80)
  • Grisdale, Last of the Logging Camps, by Dave James, 1986. Photo history of Simpson's Camp Grisdale and others. ($23.50)
  • Shelton, The First Century, Plus Ten, by Berwyn B. Thomas and Fredi Perry, 1996. History of Shelton, WA. ($18.00)
  • Mining the North Fork, Skokomish, by Robert Keatts, 1982. Stories of early prospectors. ($5.00)
  • The Island Remembers, A History of Harstine Island, by Beulah Hitchcock and Helen Wingert, 1979. ($9.00)
  • Oakland To Shelton, The Sawdust Trail, by Michael Fredson, 1976. Early development of Oakland and Shelton. ($6.50)
  • Log Towns, by Michael Fredson, 1993. Covers a period in Mason Co. history from about 1844 to 1915. ($17.50)
  • Early Settlement of Lake Cushman, by Larry Overland, 1974. History of early settlers of Lake Cushman and the construction of the dam. ($6.50)
  • Grapeview, The Detroit of the West, by Mary Sagerson. A history of the early years, 1872-1923. ($11.50)
  • History of Hoodsport, Ida's Story, by Jean Bearden, 1987. Story of the Finch family and the early settlement of Hoodsport. ($21.50)
  • Seabeck, Tide's Out; Table's Set, by Fredi Perry, 1993. Early history of Seabeck. ($19.50)
  • Port Blakely, by Andrew Price, Jr., 1990. Story of Port Blakely Mill Co., includes Mason Co. connections with Simpson Logging Co. ($19.50)
  • When Loggers Climbed Trees, a video with six movies of logging in the old days. Commentary by Dave James. Features "Hap" Johnson, "King of the Climbers", and a Farewell to Camp Grisdale, 1991. ($31.50)

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Mason County Addresses:

Washington State Department of Health: Vital Records Certificate Ordering Information

Washington Vital Records Information

See what the secretary of state is providing in transcribed records!

Washington State Archives
PO Box 9000
Olympia, WA 98504
Holds pre 1907 vital records (births and deaths from 1891, marriages from 1860). Holds State and Territorial Census Records for 1857, 1871, 1879, 1883, 1885, 1887, 1889, 1892.
Mason County Courthouse
4th and Adler
Shelton, WA 98584
County Auditor holds birth and death records (from 1891), marr records (from 1857), and deeds (from 1856). Co Clerk holds probate records (from 1858), divorce records (from 1899), and civil court records (from 1858).
Washington State Library
PO Box 9000
Olympia, WA 98504
Federal Census Records for 1850 (as Oregon Territory), 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920. Also has a large collection of WA State Newspapers (on microfilm).
Mason County Historical Society
PO Box 1366
Shelton, WA 98584
Mason Co census for 1860, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1889, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. Births, deaths and marriages from Mason Co Journal 1887-1897. Death records for 1909-21, 1958-70. Burials and information for 15 Mason County cemeteries. Obituary files. Family history archives, photos and memorabilia. Mason Co Journal 1879-Current. Heckman Photo collection and 33 local history publications.
Mason County Genealogical Society

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Shortcuts to Neighboring Counties:

Other Genealogical Links

Washington State USGenWeb Project Home Page
Washington State USGenWeb Project Archives
USGenWeb Project Home Page
US GenWeb Archives
US GenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project
Washington State GenWeb Census Project
Washington State GenWeb Cemetary Project
World GenWeb Home Page
The Genealogist's Index to the World Wide Web
Cyndi's List of Washington Genealogy Sites on the Internet
More Genealogy information about Washington
Historical maps of Washington
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You are the "" person to visit this page since 8 September 1998

This page was last updated on December 14, 2014
Garry Holland / Olympia, WA / kandgholland@comcast.net
Copyright 1998-2012 by Garry Holland