Colonel Stephen Mack was long the most prominent business man in Pontiac, and, having been also the actual founder of the town, deserves a somewhat extended notice. He was born in the State of Connecticut, in 1763. He married Temperance Bond, of Gilsom, New Hampshire, and settled in Tunbridge, Orange county, Vermont, when a young man, and engaged in the mercantile business. He also built a hotel at the "Branch," which became famous in after-years as the "White House." It was the first painted building in the place. He took a great interest in military matters, and eventually rose to the command of one of the militia regiments of the Green Mountain State, whence came his title of "colonel." About the year 1810 he closed his business as a merchant and hotel-keeper in Vermont, and came with one Thomas Emerson, a prominent merchant of Norwich, Vermont, and located at Detroit, where he again engaged in the mercantile business. His family was left on a farm in Tunbridge, Vermont. It consisted of his wife and twelve children.
About the year 1816 they removed from Tunbridge to Norwich, in the same county, in order to have the advantage of better school facilities. The well-known Vermont military college, founded by Captain Alden Partridge, was located at this place, and was then a prominent institution. At this institution the colonel's son, Almon, obtained a knowledge of military tactics, which made him quite a prominent officer in the militia of Michigan in after-years.
Colonel Mack's family removed from Vermont to Detroit in 1822, and in 1823 removed thence to Pontiac. In November, 1822, the colonel's daughter, Lovina, and an adopted orphan-girl, Elvira Jemison, came to Pontiac to keep house for the colonel. His son Almon, now living in Rochester, also came about the same time, and took charge of his father's books, and made himself generally useful about the mills, and in time came to be the manager of his father's business. Colonel Mack, as early as 1820, had built a large building which was used as a dwelling and an office, and was called the company's building. It stood nearly in front of the mill. This dwelling was occupied by Colonel Mack's family in 1823, on their arrival from Detroit.
Colonel Stephen Mack died in November, 1826, and was buried on his own land, as was also his daughter, on the east side of the river and south of Pike street. (Miss Lovina Mack died on the 2d of September, 1823.) The bodies were afterwards disinterred and buried in Oak Hill cemetery. Colonel Mack was a man of commanding appearance, large and finely formed. He died of some disease of the stomach.
He served in the American army for several months during the Revolution, when about fifteen years of age, in a Connecticut regiment, and remembered seeing the soldiers wear old pieces of blankets on their feet during the cold weather.
Colonel Mack raised a family of twelve children,-three sons, Stephen, Jr., John M., and Almon, and nine daughters, Fanny, Ruth, Rhoda, Mary, Lovicy, Lovina, Harriet, Almira, and Achsah. Of this large number there were three sets of twins. Of the sons, Stephen settled for a short time at Detroit, and eventually went to the little town of Rockton, on Rock river, in Illinois, where he opened a trading-house for Indian goods. He afterwards married the daughter of a Winnebago chief.
He held various offices, among them that of county judge. His death took place at Rockton, about 1850. John M. settled early at Hamtramck, near Detroit, where he still resides. He has also held various offices in the gift of his fellow-citizens.
Colonel Almon Mack, the third son, married the orphan-girl before spoken of, Elvira Jemison, in March, 1827. She was a woman of extraordinary mental and physical endowments, and greatly beloved and respected by all who knew her. Her death occurred at Rochester, a few years since.
Of the daughters, Lovicy married David Cooper, a wealthy merchant of Detroit. Harriet married Reuben Hatch, who had been a sutler in the army. He died about 1827, while in charge of the light-house at Fort Gratiot. His widow afterwards married Hon. Gideon O. Whittemore. All the other sisters married respectably. Joseph Smith, 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. Mrs. Colonel Mack joined her daughter at Salt Lake about 1846, and remained with her (excepting a visit of about a year to Oakland County) until her death, which occurred about 1855-56. The only members of this once numerous family now living are John M., at Hamtramck; Almon, at Rochester; and Almira, at Salt Lake. During Colonel Stephen Mack's residence at Pontiac, he built a grist-mill at Rochester in 1824.
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 Mack was on the bond of James McClosky, the cashier of this institution, who defaulted to a large amount, and, being the only 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. On the 31st of March, 1827, Hon. Elon Farnsworth was appointed trustee of the Pontiac company in the place of Colonel Mack, and the administrators executed deeds of all the company's property in the colonel's hands at the time of his death to him. (Subsequently for many years, Hon. Farnsworth was chancellor of the State.)
Source: History of Oakland County, Michigan by Durant, Samuel W. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & co., 1877.