History: J.N. Mack, Scottville’s Stearns connection.

March 15, 2019

Stearns & Mack Store 1890s.

History: J.N. Mack, Scottville’s Stearns connection.

A presentation of the Mason County Historical Society in partnership with Mason County Press. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Justus Stearns was arguably the most well known lumber baron in Mason County, with the only possible exception being James Ludington. Unlike Ludington, however, Stearns actually resided here.

Stearns’ interests went beyond the City of Ludington. Naturally, he owned lumber camps on the east side of the county, but what is less known is that he was a partner in a general store in Scottville.

John Newton Mack (often referred to as J.N.) came to Scottville in 1882. He was born in Delaware Water Gap, Penn. and from there made his way to the Dakotas before ending up in Scottville. Shortly after arriving in Scottville, he entered into partnership with Stearns and built the Stearns & Mack Store, located at 132 S. Main St.

Catherine Mack inside the store.

Mack also owned a farm in section 24 of Logan Township (Carr Settlement) in area near Deren and Masten roads. It is likely that Mack operated the farm to supply food for the Stearns’ lumber camps, including the town Stearns Siding, located a few miles to the east across the Lake County line.

In 1886, at the age of 35, J.N. Mack married Catherine Coburn, 27, who was a bookkeeper for Stearns. Mrs. Mack was one of the first teachers in Scottville as well.

The Macks had one child, George, born in 1892.

In 1909, the Macks built a house located at 110 N. Columbia Avenue, on the southeast corner of Broadway Street and Columbia Avenue. The house was one of three houses designed during that time by the architect firm of Thomas Benjamin & Son of Grand Rapids. The other two houses included the T.D. Smith residence at 209 E. State St. (northwest corner of State Street and Columbia Avenue) and the Fred J. Reader house at 108 W. State St.

Mr. Mack was one of the founders of State Savings Bank of Scottville (now West Shore Bank). In 1898, open its creation, the bank was located in a building Mack owned just north of his store. In modern terms, the Mack store was located in the south end of what most recently was South Main Tavern while the bank was located in the area now occupied by the north part of the restaurant.

George Mack sitting on porch of Mack house, 110 N. Columbia Ave.

In the early 1900s, Mack acquired full partnership of the store from Stearns. George eventually became partners with his father and the store name changed to J.N. Mack & Son. After J.N.’s death in 1941, at the age of 90, Catherine continued to operate the business with George. The grocery portion of the store was phased out and the store concentrated on clothing. Catherine died in 1945 at the age of 87. Between 1941 and 1945, Raymond Schulte purchased the store and continued to operate it under the name Mack Clothing Store until 1976 when he became partners with Charles Thompson and renamed it Schulte & Thompson Menswear.

Mack family gravesite, Brookside Cemetery.

George Mack married Flossia J. Reader (referenced earlier in the article that Flossia’s family lived at 108 W. State St.). George and Flossia lived in a house at 110 W. State St., which is now the east parking lot for the Scottville United Methodist Church. George Mack died in 1978, at the age of 86 and Flossia died in 1970 at the age of 78.

Ludington Woods Assisted Living and Memory Care, 502 N. Sherman St., Ludington, MI 49431; 231-845-6100; www.ludingtonwoods.com.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

This photo is labeled “Mack Store 1890” on the back. However, this building is clearly different than the one posted up above.

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