Stephen Mack

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Stephen Mack (June 15, 1766 - November 11, 1826[1]) 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 Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.

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 and shareholder of the Bank of Michigan.[2] He entered into a partnership which was known as Mack, Conant & Sibley 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. In fact, the Supreme court case, Bank of Michigan vs Stephen Mack was dismissed Dec. 17, 1828. The plaintiff presented a motion to dismiss as the case was abated by death of the defendant, and the motion was granted.[3] His son Almon petitioned the Probate Court of Oakland County to be released from his duties as co-executor of his father's estate and it was granted. His brother John appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court and the lower court ruling was overturned because Almon wasn't able to show cause to support why he should be released.[4]

The major thoroughfare, Mack Avenue, in Detroit was named after his son, John M. Mack, in 1855.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Obituary". Detroit Gazette (Sheldon, John P.). 1826-11-14. p. 2. Col. Stephen Mack, a soldier of the revolution, an enterprising and industrious citizen, and a kind and provident father, departed this life last Saturday morning, at Pontiac, in the 72nd year of his age. 
  2. ^ Silas Farmer (1884). The History of Detroit and Michigan: Or, the Metropolis Illustrated ; a Chronological Cyclopaedia of the Past and Present, Including a Full Record of Territorial Days in Michigan, and the Annals of Wayne County. S. Farmer & Company. p. 859. 
  3. ^ Blume, William Wirt (1893). Transactions of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Michigan, 1805-1836. Ann Arbor, Mich.: The University of Michigan Press, c1935-1940. p. 142. 
  4. ^ Blume, William Wirt (1893). Transactions of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Michigan, 1805-1836. Ann Arbor, Mich.: The University of Michigan Press, c1935-1940. p. 509. 
  5. ^ Silas Farmer (1884). The History of Detroit and Michigan: Or, the Metropolis Illustrated ; a Chronological Cyclopaedia of the Past and Present, Including a Full Record of Territorial Days in Michigan, and the Annals of Wayne County. S. Farmer & Company. p. 943. 
  • The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [1]