Saturday, October 25, 2014

Biographical Notes on Stephen Mack

Here are some key socio-economic indicators for Stephen Mack from the writings about him.

Pratt's Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Memoirs from 1853

(Note: The 1853 edition at the Internet Archive can be found here; the clean copy of 1845 at the JSP here; the rough draft begun in 1844 at the JSP here.)

While living in Tunbridge, Vermont, as a teenager, he was recruited for and served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War from 1781 to 1784 (p.30). 

In Tunbridge, Stephen Mack owned a farm and a store. Mack operated a mercantile and tinning business in Chelsea, the county seat of Orange County (p.31).

Even back in 1796, when Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack Smith married, Stephen Mack was already a successful business man. Together with his business partner John Mudget (p.45), they gave a
wedding present of $1,000 to Lucy to get her started.

The merchant, Stevens, of Royalton, Vermont, who swindled Joseph Sr out of his ginseng profits in 1803, had rented his ginseng factory's accommodations in Tunbridge from Stephen Mack (p.50).

Stephen Mack moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he  established trading relations with the Indians (p.31). [[RCK: the 1800 is wrong, it was 1807, and the author suspected that, providing the date under the restriction "if I recall correctly".]]

During the War of 1812, before the occupation of Detroit by the British Stephen Mack served as Captain under General Hull (pp.31f).

His business in Detroit was successful enough that he had a beautiful house, which was used to quarter British officers, and several stores, one of which held several thousand dollars of cash in its counting room (p.32). 

Stephen Mack, who was then an agent of the Pontiac company, was instrumental in founding Pontiac, Michigan, the second settlement in Oakland County (p.26), in 1818. 

Stephen Mack engaged in farming and building there, and operated a saw and a flour mill (p.31).

Stephen Mack financed the construction of the Pontiac-Detroit turnpike road (p.31).

By November of 1820, his mercantile business had expanded so that he operated several stores in Michigan and Ohio, one of which employed six clerks (p.31). 

Stephen Mack build a saw-mill in the city of Rochester [= i.e. Michigan Territory, RCK] (p.33).

Stephen Mack bequeathed "an estate of fifty-thousand dollars, clear of encumberance'', to his family (p.33) upon his demise [in 1826, RCK].

Durants' History of Oakland County

(The history can be found in the Internet Archive here.)

Before going to Michigan, Stephen Mack became a colonel in the Green Mountain regiments of Vermont (MH, p.i).

In 1824, Colonel Stephen Mack, together with the Hon. Roger Sprague, was the representative for Oakland County to the legislative council for the Territory of Michigan (p.21).

Stephen Mack build a saw-mill in the city of Rochester, Oakland County (p.29). 

Stephen Mack was the actual founder and the most prominent business man of Pontiac, Michigan, as part of the Pontiac Company, which had purchased the land (p.70); for the text of the incorporation, see (pp.68ff).

Mack, Conant & Sibley built the first dam in Pontiac, and there the first sawmill, during the winter of 1818-1819 (p.70). 

The first flouring mill was constructed in 1819-20 (p.70).

Colonel Mack built a distillery in 1823 and a woolen mill that did carding, spinning and weaving in 1824. (p.71)

Colonel Mack did not remove his family from Vermont to Detroit until 1822, and then brought them to Pontiac in 1823. (p.71)

Colonel Mack build a grist mill at Rochester in 1824. (p.71)
Joseph Smith [Jr, RCK], the Mormon prophet, was a cousin of the Macks, and visited Oakland County several times previous to his removal to Illinois. Almira Mack joined the Mormons at an early day and followed their fortunes to Utah, where she is still living [in 1877, RCK].” (p.71)
Indeed, Pontiac sent troops for the Zion Camp (19, to be exact), and Brother Fosdick as the local representative received letters from JS and the council. Almira Mack already joined the Church in April of 1830, coming down for a visit from Pontiac. Thereafter, shortly after her arrival in Kirtland, Lucy visited her widowed sister in law and family at Pontiac.

In the assessment of Durant, the legacy of Colonel Mack does not quite hold up to scrutiny.
After the colonel’s death his sons Almon and John M. were appointed administrators upon his estate, which was involved in the collapse of the Bank of Michigan. Colonel M[ack, RCK] was on the bond of James McClosky, the cashier of this institution, who defaulted to a large amount, and, being the one who had available means, his entire estate, with the exception of a moiety saved as dower for the widow, was absorbed in the settlement, and his heirs were virtually left penniless. (p.71)
A Google snippet from the Michigan Historical Society runs thus
McCloskey was cashier of the second bank to be chartered in this state, the Bank of Michigan, established in 1818; John R. Williams was president.
The case of the Bank of Michigan against Steven Mack went all the way to the supreme court of the territory, as did the case against the cashier James McCloskey, whom Mack had signed for. Some of the selected papers for Case #1136 against James McCloskey are included in the transactions. Because of the mess, Stephen's son Almon Mack petitioned to get out of being an executor of the estate, leaving just his brother John M. with the troubles. 

As Paper #9 in Case #1136 shows, James McCloskey was being prosecuted for a missing $20,000.--, which is albeit a hefty sum, only 2/5 of the sum claimed by Lucy Mack Smith for the legacy of her brother Colonel Stephen Mack. Confusingly, paper #14 of Suite #1136 is prosecuting for the amount of $12,000.--. It also alleges that James McCloskey did not keep proper books, or kept books inaccurately, or the wrong books.

The Michigan Old Pioneer and Historical Collection, Volume XXX, p.410-423, contains an article by Friend Palmer, entitled The Old Bank of Michigan.  Stephen Mack belonged to the corporaters of the Bank of Michigan (p.411), and its establishment was pursued because the territory was only trading in coin, coin fragments or in paper money from the East, almost worthless, causing the merchants much embarrassment and losses. Here the amount of money missing is reported as only $10,300 (p.414).

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