I recently saw a wonderful comment left on this blog by the granddaughter of a New Hampshire WWI veteran. He had a fascinating life and she was rightfully proud of him.
For whatever reason, his name was omitted from the Conway NH area veteran plaques and monuments. Perhaps it was because he moved to Boston where he practiced medicine, though he was a native and often spend his summers in the Conway area.
Ellen McGrath has kindly allowed me to use her grandfather’s photographs in this story. This is a link to the site where there are more. Hopefully I will surprise both her and you with what I have discovered about this interesting and talented man.
Nathaniel Robert Mason was born 26 April 1876 in North Conway NH, a child of Mahlon L. & Ellen M. (McRoberts/Roberts) Mason. He was the 2nd great grandson of Capt. Nathaniel Hutchins of French and Indian and Revolutionary war fame.
Nathaniel’s father Mahlon owned and ran the Sunset Pavilion Hotel in North Conway, N.H. (That hotel was situated just north of where the Eastern Slope Inn is now, but burnt down in 1940). Nathaniel grew up in North Conway.
Nathaniel’s biography in the book, “One Thousand New Hampshire Notables: Brief Biographical Sketches of New Hampshire Men and Women, etc” [see footnotes for details and link] gives in depth information about his education and work history. “He was educated under his mother’s tutelage until nearly ten years of age, Pierce grammar school, Brookline Mass., private study in Germany, Brighton, Maine; high school, Phillips Andover Academy 1893, Yale University, A.B. 1897 (with honors), Harvard Medical School, M.D. 1901. He was a summer reporter for the Boston Herald and other papers in boyhood and a clerk in the Sunset House his father’s hotel and during vacation while at Yale and Harvard.”
The Boston Sunday Post of 28 November 1909 announced: LATE NOVEMBER ENGAGEMENTS. The engagement of Dr. Nathaniel R. Mason of Beacon street to Miss Eunice Ireland, daughter of Mrs. Adaline Ireland of Washington street, Winchester, is bringing many felicitations in its train. Nathaniel R. Mason married 31 Aug 1911 in N. Conway NH to Eunice Ireland, daughter of Rasselas W. & Adelline (Perkins) Ireland. They had two children, Charity Adeline, b. May 21, 1913; and Mahlon Rasselas, b. April 5, 1915.
By 1913 Nathaniel R. mason was listed in a newspaper article as an instructor at Harvard Medical School. In 1917 he was a speaker at the Fenway Hospital Graduating Class of Nurses.
The U.S. Adjutant General Military Records attributes his service to Harvard MA as follows: “MASON, Nathaniel Robert, M.D., ’01. First Lieutenant Medical Reserve Corps when United entered the war; promoted captain December 7, 1917; called to active duty January 10, 1918 and detailed to Medical Officers’ Training Camp, Camp Greenleaf, Ga.; detailed to Rockefeller Institute, New York, N.Y., March 2 to March 16; assigned to Base Hospital No. 51 March 20; sailed for France August 9; appointed chief of Carrel-Dakin Service Base Camp No. 51; transferred to Evacuation Ambulance Company No 35 March 16, 1919; returned to the United States May 3; discharged May 28, 1919. Commissioned major Medical Officers’ Reserve Corps June 27, 1919.”
Base Hospital 51 was located in the City of Toul, in Meurthe-et-Mosell, France. The buildings used were called the Caserne Febvier (sic) and I was able to discover a photograph shown above. Nathaniel R. Mason was appointed chief of Carrel-Dakin Service at the base camp. The Carrel-Dakin service was an “antiseptic treatment to combat the infection of wounds,” resulting from battlefield injuries.
Though probably exposed to much disease, Nathaniel survived the war, and returned to Massachusetts where he continued his surgeon and obstetrical practice in Boston and Marblehead MA. His professional practice from One Thousand
New Hampshire Notables, details as follows: “He commenced professional practice in Boston, at “the Marlboro” on Marlboro Street in the fall after graduation; pursued general practice four years, after that specializing in obstetrics and gynecology; assistant in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard University Medical School; First Ass’t Visiting Surgeon for Diseases of Women, Boston City Hospital; Ass’t Visiting Physician, Boston Lying-in Hospital; has carried out important original investigations in the Laboratory for Surgical Research of Harvard Medical School; frequent contributor to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal; member Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Yale, Mass. Medical Soc., Mass. Medical Benevolent Soc., Boston Medical Library, Obstetrical Soc. of Boston, American Medical Ass’n, American College of Surgeons of U.S., Union Boat Club.”
Besides having a surname Mason, he was also a member of the Masons–of Mount Washington No. 87 at North Conway NH along with being affiliated with Mt. Lebanon and Philanthropic chapters. He lived a full life and died 3 May 1948 at Boston, Massachusetts. He is buried in his native town, with his wife at his side, in the North Conway Cemetery.
Dr. Nathaniel Mason had a special tobacco can crafted for him, from pieces of wartime shells. This “trench art” still exists and will be highlighted in another article on this blog.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].
 One Thousand New Hampshire Notables: Brief Biographical Sketches of New Hampshire Men and Women, etc., ed. by H H. Metcalf and F M Abbott, page 1982
 Biography of Nathaniel Robert Mason, from Yale University. [PDF]