Uncle Sam’s house in Mason

  • Samuel Wilson, better known as Uncle Sam, lived in Mason during his childhood and the house still remains at 187 Valley Road and is a private residence. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • A historical marker tells the significance of the Uncle Sam house in Mason on Valley Road. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • An old photo of the Uncle Sam house in Mason supplied by the Mason Historical Society. Courtesy photo—

  • At times during its more than 230 years of existence, the Uncle Sam house in Mason has fallen into disrepair, but over more recent times owners of the private residence have brought it back to good condition. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/17/2019 9:15:54 PM

The three-quarters red Cape at 187 Valley Road in Mason doesn’t seem different than any other classic home you’d see driving around the back roads of New England.

But the green historical marker that stands in the front yard quickly tells you that, indeed, there is something special about the home built in 1780.

It was the childhood home of Samuel Wilson, who was better known by the name of Uncle Sam.

As the story goes, Wilson’s company supplied meat donations to the army troops during the War of 1812, and it was on these ration barrels – stamped U.S. – where the legend of Uncle Sam was reportedly born. Soldiers joked that the “U.S.” stood for “Uncle Sam,” while, according to the story, it simply stood for United States.

Wilson’s father, Edward, built the house in 1780 and Wilson lived there until 1789. He then went on to Troy, New York where he was a successful businessman. Since Wilson married Betsey Mann, who lived in the building the Mason town offices are housed in, and family still lived in the town, he would visit the area after leaving for New York.

Wilson was one of 13 children, and his younger brother Thomas lived and farmed the 100-acre property until his death in 1863. It remained in the Wilson family for 122 years until 1902 and has since changed hands on multiple occasions.

Currently, it is owned by Cecile Mouraux and is considered a private residence, although Mouraux lives in California and no one has lived in Wilson’s childhood home for many years.

Mouraux purchased the property with her husband Jean-Pierre, who passed away a few years ago. Jean-Pierre claimed to have the biggest Uncle Sam memorabilia collection in the world. Much of the memorabilia still remains in the house as the couple planned to turn it into a museum of sorts for those looking to follow the life of Uncle Sam from his birthplace in Arlington, Massachusetts to Troy, where he spent much of his adult life and is buried.

“He wanted to connect the dots,” said historical society member Sue Wolpert. “Jean-Pierre was just so excited that Uncle Sam actually lived in this area.”

While the tour never materialized on a large scale, the Mouraux’s were known to open up the house and give tours during town events.

“For years, they had annual open houses around his birthday,” said historical society member Nancy Richards.

The house has gone into pretty bad disrepair at times, Mason Historical Society President Carol Iodice said, but the Mouraux’s did their part in keeping it up, like previous owners Steve White and John and Penny Savard, while keeping aspects of its historical significance intact.

“It was vacant for a long time,” Iodice said.

It still has the old beehive oven and original cooking fireplace, and the narrow set of stairs leading to the second level. Some things have been modernized and there have been additions over the years. In 1840, Wilson’s nephew Brooks built the large white house that stands to the left.

“The front rooms have been kept in their original colonial look,” Iodice said.

There used to be an orchard across the street and according to one of the books put together by the Mourauxs, a participant in the Boston Tea Party once stayed on the property.

The future of the home is unknown after Jean-Pierre passed away and with Cecile living in California. From the Mason Historical Society’s point of view, they hope it some day finds its way into the town’s hands through donation and can be used as another way to show off the long-standing history of the town.

“Anything that’s historical is fascinating to us,” Iodics said. “And it’s not just Uncle Sam, we have so much history in this town.”

As of now, the only way people can visit is by pulling off the side of the road and looking at the outside, which is in close proximity to the road, and the historical marker.

It allows the imagination to run wild thinking about what life was like when Wilson lived there as a boy and how it’s changed over the years.

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