Laura (Drake) Mason

1861 - 1925


First female Superintendent of Cemeteries in Keene.

On July 24th, 1861, Laura E. Drake was born in Chichester, the third of Nancy Ayer and David Drake’s four children. Her father was a farmer. It is unclear as to whether or not Laura’s education extended beyond the 8th grade, which was very uncommon for the era. 

On October 27th, 1878, Laura married Walter Mason, a 26-year-old shoemaker. After their marriage, they moved in with Walter’s family in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. In 1880, they had their first child, Jessie. And, in 1882, a second daughter, Helen, was born. Unfortunately, both of the Mason children died young. 

By 1893, Laura and her husband had relocated to Keene where Walter worked as a foreman. Laura kept house and became involved in Keene’s social life. In 1907, at the age of 46 Laura was serving as the Vice President of the Tourist Club and the Treasurer of Keene Associated Charities. 

After her husband died in 1919, Laura took over as the Superintendent of Cemeteries. She was the first woman in Keene to hold this position and quite possibly the first in New Hampshire as well. As Superintendent and sexton, Laura managed all cemetery operations, including keeping the grounds, overseeing burials, and selling the lots. At the time she held the position, there were about eight cemeteries in Keene, totaling 70.9 acres. She was paid about $1,200 for her work and was supplied with a horse.   It is a position she held until her death.

On March 15th, 1925, Laura E. Drake Mason died. She is remembered as one of the first female public servants in Keene. 

Points of Interest

  • Laura Mason gravesite. Greenlawn Cemetery, Page St, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Laura's home in Keene while superintendent of cemeteries. 77 Franklin St, Keene, New Hampshire - Google Maps

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