Stephen Mack

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Stephen Mack (June 15, 1766 - November 11, 1826) was a merchant, patriot and politician. He was a member of the founding company of Pontiac, Michigan, and represented Oakland County in the Council of the Territory of Michigan in 1824. He was also the brother of Lucy Mack Smith and so the uncle of The Latter-day Saint founder Joseph Smith, Jr..

Stephen Mack was born June 15, 1766 in Marlow, New Hampshire to Solomon Mack and Lydia Gates Mack. His father noted: "There were but four families in forty miles...As our children were wholly deprived of the privilege of schools, she took the charge of their education..." In 1779, not yet 13 years old (his father called him fourteen), he enlisted with his father and older brother Jason to serve on a privateer in the American Revolutionary War. His father related one incident when:

"My son Stephen, in company with the cabin boys, was sent to a house, not far from the shore, with a wounded man...A woman was engaged in frying cakes at the time, and being somewhat alarmed, she concluded to retire into the cellar, saying, as she left, that the boys might have the cakes, as she was going below. The boys were highly delighted at this, and they went to work cooking and feasting upon the lady’s sweet cakes, while the artillery of the contending armies was thundering in their ears, dealing out death and destruction on every hand. At the head of this party of boys was Stephen Mack, my second son, a bold and fearless stripling of fourteen."

Stephen served on this trip in March 1779, and then served in the American Army from July 25, 1779 until August 31, 1779 with his brother Jason. He reenlisted, still aged only 15, for three years; serving from April 2, 1781 into 1783.

Mack settled in Tunbridge, Vermont where he established a store in town and a farm where he lived in the country. He had a son Stephen Mack, Jr. born 2 February 1798 in Tunbridge. He operated a tinnery with his partner John Mudget.

Mack moved to Detroit, Michigan in either 1800 or 1807. He left his family behind in Vermont where the children could be better schooled and established a string of merchant and business ventures in Michigan. In Detroit during the War of 1812, he was given the captaincy of a company under General Hull; however, the city was quickly surrendered to the British. Mack is said by his sister to have broken his sword over his knee and thrown it into the lake on hearing of the surrender. To save his property, his housekeeper housed British officers and pretended the house and business were her own.

After the war, Mack rebuilt his businesses. In 1812 he became a trustee of the village of Detroit and later a director of the Bank of Michigan. He entered into a partnership which was known as Mack & Conan which remained in business until 1821 when it was bought out by its chief competitor the American Fur Company.

Mack became a member of the Pontiac Company and helped found Pontiac, Michigan in 1818. He had a farm and a building firm as well as a sawmill and a flour mill. He is said to have at his own expense paid for the extension of the turnpike Woodward Avenue to Pontiac, then a major road in Detroit. He also built a sawmill in Rochester, Michigan and had ventures in Ohio.

In the 1820s, Mack brought his family to Michigan. They briefly lived in Detroit before settling in Pontiac around 1822.

He was referred to as Major by a neighbor and called Colonel in his obituary.

In 1826, Mack died after an illness of four days. According to his sister, he left an estate valued at fifty thousand dollars. Other sources report that an embezzlement scandal, involving the cashier of the bank of Michigan, which lost the bank between 10,000 and 12,000 US$, and for whom Mack had been the bondsman, left the estate penniless. One of his sons petitioned the Michigan Supreme Court to be released from his duties to the estate.

The major thoroughfare, Mack Avenue, in Detroit is named after him.

References[edit]

  • The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [1]