Jessie Isabella Frye (1913-1994)
Howard Francis Mason (1910-1994)


Jessie Isabella Frye was born at 12:11 pm on March 8, 1913 in Wilton, NH, the only child of Harvey Wellington Frye and Elizabeth Priscilla Osborne. Dr. Higgins of Wilton, NH was the attending physician at her birth. She was named after one of her mother's sisters. Jessie was christened May 4, 1913 at the Presbyterian Church at the corner of Columbus Ave. and Berkeley St., Boston. She was christened by Rev. Dr. William M. Tufts, pastor. He formerly preached in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, and then was pastor of a church in Somerville, MA, where Jessie's parents were married.

From what I can tell by looking at these photos of her as a child,
I would guess she was a rather precocious, outgoing young girl.

Jessie at age 3           Jessie at age 6          Jessie at age 7          Jessie at age 15          Jessie at age 15

It's worth noting that Jessie used several derivations of her name during her life. In different documents we have seen her use the first name of Jessie, Isabelle, Isabella, and Isabel. Even her high school report cards use different spellings. But, for the sake of consistency, we'll use Jessie here.

On August 15, 1930, at the age of 17, Jessie married Howard Francis Mason. Howard was the son of Walter Lee Mason and Grace Alice Fogg. Here's a picture of Howard as a baby:

I recently received this picture of Howard from a cousin in Seattle. It was probably taken around 1918 or so. I saw this expression on Howard's face many times over the years. It's a wonderful photo! Thanks Charles!

Howard was 20 when they got married.
This picture of Jessie and Howard appears to have been taken in one of those photo booths that give you a strip of 4 pictures. It was taken about the time they got married.
They were obviously a happy young couple.

Howard was a teacher and educator for most of his professional life. As a result, the couple moved around a lot. His career as a teacher, principal and superintendant spanned across the following towns:

Woodsville, NH
Amherst, NH
Lincoln, NH
Franklin, NH
Hillsboro, NH
Abbington, MA
Hanover, NH
Ellington, CT
Portland, CT
Wilton, NH

In a rather unique situation in 1944, both Howard and his father were school superintendants in New Hampshire at the same time. Howard was with the Hillsborough School System and his father, Walter Lee Mason, was superintendant in the Charlestown, NH School system.

Howard recieved his Bachelor's Degree from Dartmouth, a Masters from Columbia, and his Doctorate from Harvard. Interestingly, while superintendant of the Hanover, NH school, he also taught a course on school administration at Dartmouth. He did the same thing later in life at the University of Connecticut while working for the schools in Portland, CT.

Jessie and Howard had two children:

Harvey Wellington Frye Mason, born October 1, 1931

Howard Lee Mason, born Jun 11, 1936

Jessie was an avid collector of dolls. In fact, she was written up in the local paper in New Hampshire about her doll collection. She was also very active in the D.A.R. . In her application tot he D.A.R., she cites Major Isaac Frye as her ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. There were certainly others she could have chosen as well!! Jessie was also interested in family history. Like me, much of what she had on her side of the family had been passed down to her from her father, Harvey Wellington Frye. But she also spent time trying to track down Howard's lineage. From her notes, it appears she had as much trouble as we are having!! I remember vividly that there used to be a large, framed, needlepointed family tree hanging on the wall of their house in Portland, CT. I used to love to look at it. I wish I knew where it was now! I don't think I was yet a teenager at the time. Had I known then what I know now!! But I guess most kids are the same way.

Jessie was also very social and loved to host elegant dinner parties. One of things I remember about their house when I was growing up was that she always kept the house spotless and she had a very elegant dining room. Just one of those things that sticks in my head for some reason. She was an excellent cook. Jessie also enjoyed sewing & knitting and made a great many of her own clothes. She enjoyed learning & doing crafts, including such things as stenciling, antique repair and pottery.

Both Jessie and Howard were very politically active. Howard served in the NH Legislature. Jessie spent a lot of time campaigning for her favorite candidates, which, judging from the photo below, included former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu.

When Howard retired, they moved to the family homestead that had been in the Frye family for generations, in Wilton, NH. Howard was an avid collector of books, stamps and coins. Weekends in retirement often found Howard setting up a table for himself at a flea market in Hollis, NH, where he sold bits and pieces of his book collection. I'm quite certain this was more of a social event for Howard than it was anything else.

Late in life, Jessie developed Alzheimer's Disease. As her disease progressed, Howard spent more and more time tending to her. He would bathe her, feed her and make sure her hair was taken care of. It was a very difficult time, but he handled it with all the love and dedication of a devoted husband. While all this was going on, Howard took up the cause of Alzheimer's research in the legislature.

In May 1989, Howard suffered a pulmonary aneurysm. He had surgey to insert a plastic aorta. Howard had fought hard to keep Jessie at home for as long as possible, despite her deteriorating condition. But the surgery meant he could no longer care for her. Jessie was put into a nursing home in Peterborough, NH. Howard visted her often and did everything in his power to make sure she was well taken care of. He passed away quietly on February 8, 1994. Jessie died on December 27th of the same year. Jessie and Howard are both buried at Vale's End Cemetery in Wilton, NH.

The 1994 town report of Wilton, NH is dedicated to Howard. In it, he is described as having "....quick wit, public spirit, humor and kindness, a man Wilton could be proud to call a citizen and friend."

Although all generations can claim to have been witness to extraordinary events, this particular generation, I think, saw more than most. Two world wars (Howard's brother Everett was killed in WWII) occurred in their lifetime as well as the Korean War and Vietnam. Automobiles became more mainstream, replacing trains as a primary means of travel. Radio first became popular on a wide scale in the late 20's and 30's, only to be followed by television and later color television. And the social changes of the 1960's must have been a real challenge to the values of a couple now in their 50's.

My memories of my grandparents will always be of a happy couple, very much in love. Grandma was a very effervescent woman, always with a smile. Grandpa had a twinkle in his eyes throughout his life that was just the type of look that made you wonder what he was really thinking. They are both dearly missed.

Here are a few other pictures:

Howard F. Mason          Jessie & Howard

Hmmm... this is where this gets tricky. The Mason and Frye lines of my family merge with Howard and Jessie. So, if you would like to follow the Frye line of the family back another generation, you can click on this button:

If you would like to follow the Mason line of the family back another generation, you can hit this button:

Otherwise, you can reurn to the front page of the website with the HOME button, or proceedto the next generation with the NEXT button. How confusing!!!


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