Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Conie Bear (Mrs. Charles E.) Mason, 1875-1948
By Nicole Nevarez, undergraduate student, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Orator, activist, suffragist
Conie Bear was born on January 13, 1875, in Paola, Kansas, to Jacob Andrew Beard Bear, a carpenter, originally from Virginia, and Clara Jane (Munkres) Bear, a housekeeper, originally from Missouri. Conie Bear attended Paola High School and Kansas State University. She was a member of the Christian Science Church. In 1899, the Bear family moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where Conie Bear met Charles Edgar Mason (1874-1959). The two were married in 1901 and had two children: Barrett Bear (1902-1905) and Clara Bear Scarritt (1908-1938). Charles Mason was the editor and co-owner of the Roswell Daily News, officially purchasing the paper in September 1902. The newspaper became a family affair; Harvey Bear, who was Conie Bear's brother, was the other co-owner. Grace Thorpe Bear, Harvey's wife, worked as the society page writer and editor. Finally, Conie Bear worked at the paper writing special articles and keeping the books. Her involvement with the paper and her social status led her to be involved in several community organizations.
From 1904 to 1948, Conie Mason was involved in activism, politics, and social organizations. One social organization was the Shakespeare Club, in which she became the president and hosted events in her home. She also served as president of the Board of Directors of Carnegie Library of Roswell. From 1904 to 1907, she served as the president of the Roswell Woman's Club. From 1917 to 1919, she served as the president for the New Mexico State Federation of Woman's Clubs. This state club was originally founded in 1911, and according to Charles B. Stanford, the clubwomen “pushed forward the material and cultural development of rural communities in one of the poorest areas of the United States,” and “they worked for increased literacy, improved public health, and wider educational and social opportunities for women.” Mason's leadership in the club movement exemplified these points.
Like other suffragists in New Mexico, Mason supported suffrage through her club work. As president of the State Federation of Woman's Clubs, Mason was honored at the governor's mansion with a reception in October 1917. Deane Lindsey, New Mexico's First Lady, arranged the event and invited the leaders of leading women's organizations, including Clara Walter, who was the president of the Santa Fe suffrage association. Several years later, Mason led a local suffrage league. She, among others, signed an open letter in the Artesia Advocate in support of a local candidate for state office. From 1929 to 1931, she became the first women appointed to a staff position in the governor's office by Governor Richard C. Dillon.
Throughout the rest of her life, Conie Mason traveled New Mexico giving speeches. She spoke in support of temperance and the Eighteenth Amendment. In 1930, she spoke on “Law Observance, a Social Factor” to commemorate the amendment's passage. In 1944, she was invited to Portales to speak at a luncheon for sorority Delta Kamma Gamma, discussing the role of American women during the postwar rebuilding. In 1945, Mason spoke before the Women's Society of Christian Science (WSCS) of the First Methodist Church in Clovis. She contended that democracy was the best form of government and that the United States should set the example throughout the rest of the world. Mason spent her life working for women and helping them find their place in the world. She was a champion of suffrage, prohibition, and education.
Conie Bear Mason was involved in both politics and community during her time in the state. She promoted education, women's rights, and democracy. Mason spent the last days of her life in Clovis with her husband and son-in-law. She died in Albuquerque on August 11, 1948, and she was buried in the Roswell Cemetery next to her husband.
“The Clubs Start Soon.” Roswel Daily Record (Rosewell, N. Mex.). September 27, 1907, p.1. Newspapers.com.
Fleming, Elvis. “The Record Is Born into a Frontier Town.” Roswell Daily Record (Roswell, N. Mex.). March 6, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2019. https://issuu.com/a23sx135rqfsdi94a1cskse2zx-11s/docs/125th_anniversary.
Find a Grave. Charles E. Mason. Accessed March 1, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27316899.
Find a Grave. Conie B. Mason. Accessed March 1, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27316898/conie-mason.
Leonard, John W. “Mason, Conie Bear.” In Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915, volume L-Q, p.547. New York: American Commonwealth Company, 1914. [LINK]
“Local W.C.T.U. Observes Dry Law Birthday.” Roswell Daily Record (Roswell, N. Mex.). January 17 ,1930, p.4. Newspapers.com.
“Mrs. C.E. Mason Dies Here at 73.” Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). August 12, 1948. Newspapers.com.
“Mrs. C.E Mason Speaks at W.S.C.S Meeting.” Clovis News-Journal (Clovis, N. Mex.). August 20, 1945, p.2. Newspapers.com.
“An Open Letter to Women Voters of Eddy County.” Artesia Advocate (Artesia, N. Mex.). April 2, 1920, p.4. Newspapers.com.
“Shakespeare Club First Session.” Roswell Daily Record, October 14, 1931, p.4. Newspapers.com.
Society. “Reception for Mrs. Mason.” Santa Fe New Mexican. October 8, 1917, p.6. Newspapers.com.
“Sorority Meets in Portales with Mrs. Golden.” Clovis News Journal (Clovis, N. Mex.). November 12, 1944, p.11. Newspapers.com
Stanford, Charles B. “Women's Clubs of the Mesilla Valley Since 1892.” In Sunshine and Shadows in New Mexico's Past, vol. 3, edited by Richard Melzer, 341-366. Los Ranchos: Rio Grande Books, 2012.
“Woman's Club.” Roswell Daily Record (Roswell, N. Mex.). September 29, 1904, p.1. Newspapers.com.
United States Census 1880, s.v. “Conie Bear, Paola, Kan.” HeritageQuest.
United States Census 1910, s.v. “Conie B. Mason, Roswell, N. Mex.” HeritageQuest.