Kaitlyn Ibach, the 6-year-old great-great-great granddaughter of Tacoma suffragist Virginia Mason, carefully placed a nosegay on her ancestor’s grave and then stepped back to admire it.
Kaitlyn was the youngest of Mason’s descendents to attend a ceremony honoring her Saturday.
Though Mason died in 1936, the headstone was just a few weeks old. For the past 80 years, she had lain in an unmarked grave.
On Saturday, the pioneering leader in the movement to win the right for women to vote had her new headstone dedicated at the Tacoma Cemetery. It was attended by more than a dozen descendants.
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Kaitlyn, like many of the women in her family, has inherited the take-charge outspokenness that Mason was known for.
“She’s a for-real leader,” mother Bethany said of Kaitlyn. “She’s a manager. She gets people to do things.”
The marker was donated by members of the Mary Ball Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Mason served as regent, or president, of the chapter from 1900 to 1902, according to current viceregent Lynne Stallcop. Members organized Saturday’s dedication.
Virginia Mason was born Jan. 28, 1854, in Pennsylvania.
She met her future husband, Civil War veteran John Quincy Mason, in 1875 in Missouri.
After having four children and moving to Illinois, the family settled in Tacoma in 1888.
Mason formed or joined several clubs in Tacoma. One of them was responsible for creating the Franke Tobey Jones senior community.
But she is most known for her work in the suffrage movement.
Mason was elected president of the Washington suffrage association in 1911. She worked with fellow Tacoma suffragist leader Emma Smith DeVoe.
That same year, Mason was appointed as a commissioner of the National Council of Women Voters by pro-suffrage Gov. Marion Hay.
Mason’s 1905 house, which she designed at 2501 N. Washington Ave. in Tacoma, was the scene of many meetings for the local suffragist movement until women won the right to vote in 1910.
The home is for sale.
Tacoma’s Virginia Mason is not related to the Seattle hospital, nor was she related to Tacoma pioneer and booster Allen C. Mason.
DIGGING UP HISTORY
In 2015, Stallcop began researching the roughly 50 former regents of the DAR chapter.
The DAR is a service organization that focuses on patriotism, education and historical preservation. Its members can trace their ancestry to someone who fought or assisted in the American Revolution, according to Stallcop.
One of Stallcop’s research trips took her to the Tacoma Cemetery and the Mason family plot.
“I can find John,” Stallcop recalled of the day. “But there was nothing here (for Virginia). That bothered me that she didn’t have a stone. It made me sad.”
Mason had lain in an unmarked grave next to her husband since her death at age 81.
After the DAR agreed to fund the $900 for a headstone, they then had to track down family members to get permission.
“I created this family tree, working way down to find someone who was related,” Stallcop recalled on Saturday.
The Masons have descendants scattered across the country, with several still living near the family home.
Great-granddaughter Quincy Cook is one them. Her mother, the daughter of Virginia’s son Charles, was raised in the Mason house.
Cook and her two sisters were at Saturday’s dedication. She is named after her great-grandfather, John Quincy Mason — Virginia’s husband.
“There were no boys in our family, so the youngest girl got it,” Cook said of her name. She wore Virginia’s large gold cross to Saturday’s dedication.
No one in the current family realized Virginia’s grave was unmarked or knew why.
“I remember going (to the cemetery) as a little kid with my mom,” Cook said. “I was too little to notice (the missing headstone). But she died in the 1930s, so it was probably money.”
Cook and other family members are proud of their ancestor.
“We come from a long line of women who speak their mind,” Cook said.
The tombstone caps Virginia’s role in history.
“I think its wonderful recognition for her,” Cook said. “She’d be pleased to see how far women have come and that women in her family have not kept their mouths shut.”