Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909.

Transcribed by Mary Alice Schwanke and Cyndi Vertrees

Biography of  Edgar Eugene Mack

An enumeration of the men of the present generation who have won honor for themselves and at the same time have honored the state which they represent would be incomplete where there failure to make prominent reference to Edgar E. Mack, who resides in Storm Lake, but has not confined his activity to local interests. He has extended his efforts to various lines wherein the commonwealth at large has benefited and throughout his entire career there has never been an esoteric phase. His business and political record will alike bear close scrutiny and he will gain thereby the confidence and respect of his colleagues and associates. He was born in Leicester, Addison county, Vermont, June 14, 1850. In the paternal line he comes of Scotch Irish ancestry, although prior to the emigration to America the Macks lived in the north of Ireland, whence they made their way to Londonderry, New Hampshire, in the eighteenth century. The family was represented in the colonial army during the Revolutionary war, Robert Mack, the great-grandfather of our subject, being a non-commissioned officer in a New Hampshire regiment. James Madison Mack, father of E. E. Mack, was born in Leicester, Vermont, and died in June, 1905, at the age of eighty-seven years. In early life he served as a colonel in the state militia of Vermont and in possession of his son Edgar are various military commissions. Throughout much of his business career he followed the occupation of farming, but during the last twenty-six years of his life he lived in honorable retirement from labor, making his home with his son in Storm Lake. In the east he was recognized as a citizen of prominence and influence, who in 1859 was elected to represent his district in the Vermont legislature. He left the impress of his individuality in other ways upon public thought and action and was well known as a progressive man whose labors were of marked benefit to the community in which he lived. His early political allegiance was given to the whig party, while later he became an advocate church. He married Betsey Maria Parks who was born in Goshen, Vermont. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and died July 2, 1879, at the age of fifty-four years. The family of this worthy couple numbered six children, all sons, including twins. Two of the number died when sixteen years of age.

Edgar E. Mack, the second in order of birth, was in his eleventh year when his parents removed to Lake county, Illinois, in April, 1861. There they remained for two years, after which they went to Alden, Iowa, where they lived until May, 1870. In that year they took up their abode in Newell township, Buena Vista county, where James M. Mack secured a homestead claim then lying in Coon township. Mr. Mack of this review accompanied his father on his various removals and in the passing years assisted him more and more largely in his business duties.

In the fall of 1874, however, he was elected clerk of the district and circuit court, at which time he removed to Sioux Rapids, then the county seat. He had acquired his education in the country schools and in the high school of Alden, and had manifested special aptitude in his studies. At the age of sixteen years he began teaching school but, not content with the educational advantages he had himself enjoyed, he studied Latin and other branches during this period, reciting his lessons to ministers in the vicinity. It was his ambition to become a member of the bar but this plan was frustrated by the illness of his mother and financial causes. As it was necessary that he provide for his own support, he secured a situation in a store in Newell, but later the store failed and Mr. Mack was appointed assignee of the stock. He then sold out the business to good advantage, the firm settling with its creditors, after which business was resumed, Mr. Mack remaining with the house until 1875. In the fall of 1874 he had received the nomination for clerk of the courts and no higher testimonial of his capability, fidelity and methodical, systematic discharge of his duties can be given than the fact that he was reelected six times, holding the office for fourteen years. His name in the community became a synonym for official integrity and faithfulness. In October, 1878, the county seat was removed from Sioux Rapids to Storm Lake and in order to discharge his official duties he also became a resident of the latter city, where he has since remained.

A man of resourceful ability and undaunted enterprise, Mr. Mack has watched his opportunities for legitimate advancement and has been a prominent factor in the business development and progress of the city and county. While still in office he erected the Mack block and upon his retirement from the position of clerk of the courts in January, 1889, he opened a real-estate, abstract and loan office in his own building. In 1890 he entered into partnership relations with James De Land, under the firm style of Mack & De Land, and the business was further extended in its scope by adding a law department. Business was maintained by these two gentlemen until July, 1907, when Mr. De Land retired to devote his entire attention to the practice of law, and Mr. Mack was then joined by his eldest son, Guy E. Mack, under the firm style of Mack & Mack, the junior partner now having offices at Newell, for the operations of the house have not been confined to Storm Lake, but have covered a wide territory in the conduct of a constantly growing and remunerative business. Edgar E. Mack was also instrumental in organizing the Electric Light & Power Company, which was incorporated in March, 1892, with a capital of twenty-five thousand dollars. He became president of the company, with E. C. Cowles as vice president and C. W. Seidel as secretary. Since that time Mr. Mack has acquired the interests of his partners in the business and is today sole owner of the plant, which is an enterprise of much worth to the city, as well as a source of substantial revenue to the owner. It is well known that what Mr. Mack undertakes he accomplishes, for he has the ability to improve opportunities to their best advantage and to shape complex and even diversified interests into a harmonious and unified whole.

On the 13th of September, 1875, Mr. Mack was united in marriage to Mill Ellen B. Ayers, who was born in Goshen, Vermont, May 1, 1848, and is of Scotch Irish lineage. She, too, was descended from Revolutionary stock, the family being represented in the Continental army. Mrs. Mack was a member of the Presbyterian church and a most estimable lady, whose circle of friends was almost coextensive with the circle of her acquaintance. She died February 6, 1906, leaving six children: Nellie E., the wife of John A. Van Wagenen, county attorney of Pierce county, Nebraska, by whom she has one child, Pierce; Grace E., who has been graduated in music and resides at home, Guy E., a lawyer by profession, who is a partner of his father, having offices at Newell, where he is mayor of the city, and perhaps the youngest mayor in northwest Iowa; Frank W., a graduate of Ames Electrical School, who is manager of his father’s plant; Burt W., a teacher by profession, who is studying music in Chicago; and Beatrice J., at home. All are graduates of the Storm Lake high school and the sons are graduates of the commercial department of the Buena Vista College.

While Mr. Mack has led an extremely busy life in his official and commercial relations, he has yet found opportunity to cooperate in movements that have been of distinct benefit to the community along various lines. He is a helpful member of the Presbyterian church, in which he has served as trustee. He has also been a member of the board of trustees of the Buena Vista College since its organization and for the past twenty years has been president of the Cemetery Association, and also member and president of the school board for nine years. He belongs to the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and Masonic lodges and in the last named fraternity has attained the Knight Templar degree and is also a member of the Mystic Shrine. His position on political matters has never been an equivocal one, for he is widely known as one of the leading republicans of his section of the state. Aside from the local offices which he has filled he has served as state senator, being elected in 1889 to represent the fiftieth district in the upper house of the Iowa assembly for four years, the district then comprising Humboldt, Buena Vista and Pocahontas counties. During the session in which he served he was connected with much important constructive legislation and with the active work of various committees of which he was a member. In 1890 he was elected a member of the republican state central committee and acted as its chairman in 1891-2. He was made a member of the state delegation and delegate at large and was chosen chairman of the delegation at the national convention in Minneapolis in 1892, the other delegates at large being Governor Gear, James S. Clarkson and Cady Chase. He has been most active in behalf of his party’s interests and has served as chairman of the county central committee. He understands the best processes of managing political interests to produce effective results and over the record of his official career as well as his private life there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. He has an extended personal acquaintance with the leading men of this state and with many of national reputation, who give to him warm friendship and admiration. The terms progress and patriotism might well be considered the keynote of his character, for throughout his entire career he has labored for the improvement of every line of business or public interest with which he has been associated and al all times he has been actuated by a fidelity to his country and her welfare.