Edward “Ned” Mason was born enslaved on a plantation in Washington County, Georgia, in the year 1847. He was the first child of the young couple Alfred and Hannah Mason, who had both been born into enslaved themselves, probably on the same plantation where Edward was born.

Unless Ned was born during the night, Alfred would not have met his new son until he returned to his quarters after finishing his day’s work. But female were typically given two or three days off after childbirth, so Hannah would have had little time to welcome Ned into his new world.

Ned was followed the next year his by the birth of his brother Noah. A five-year break between the birth of Noah and the next son, Thomas, in 1853, suggests the likelihood Alfred and Hannah lost a child or two to stillbirth or death in early childhood. But after Thomas, Ned got a new brother or sister every year or two for the next seventeen years. There was his brother James, sister Linda, brothers Andrew, Jacob, George, and Jefferson, sister Josephine, brother Alfred, and lastly, brother Cleveland, born in 1870.

As mentioned earlier, Ned and his family were part of a Washington County, Georgia, plantation. But hearing of a “plantation,” we should not be too quick to visualize the estates of white-columned mansions surrounded by miles of cotton fields that were presented to us in films such as Gone with the Wind. According to the 1850 U.S. Census, 1,342 white families lived in Washington County that year. An addendum to that census, known as the Slave Schedule, reported 607 of those families—46% of the white families—owned a total of 5,809 enslaved persons….(continued)