James F. Mason, abstracter of land titles, general insurance and real estate agent, was born in Robertson County, Tenn., June 1, 1827, the son of Kinchin C. and Jerusha (Rice) Mason, both natives of North Carolina, The father came to Illinois with his family in 1829, locating in Perry County, then in Washington County, in 1852, where he now resides, in his eighty-second year. Our subject was reared in Perry County, where he attended common schools. He taught from 1848 to 1854, and then moved to Pinckneyville, Ill., and followed milling and mercantile pursuits until the war. In 1863-64 he was sheriff, and magistrate during 1861-63. After his term expired he followed farming until
1869, from which time until 1874 he was in the mercantile business at Benton as clerk and proprietor. A short time in 1872 he was police magistrate, but resigned. In 1874 he was elected sheriff, serving one term, and for two years was deputy county and circuit clerk. Later on he was in the grain and mercantile business for others. Since 1877 he has been in the fire insurance business, and increased his business until he now represents the Aetna, Hartford, Phoenix and Connecticut, of Hartford, the Phoenix, of Brooklyn, the Queen, of Liverpool, England, the American Central, of St. Louis, Mo., the Glenn Falls, of New York, and the Niagara, of New York. In 1879 he was elected and served one term as circuit clerk. He has always been a Democrat, and as such elected to his various offices. In 1850 he married Elizabeth Gillespie, of Tennessee, who died in 1881. Seven of their eight children are living. In 1882 he married Mary A. (Penny) Goode, a native of Wilson County, Tenn. He is a Master Mason, and a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.