Michael L. McCormack


THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR DELEGATE FROM DAKOTA. The Democratic convention for Dakota Territory held at Sioux Falls last week made an excellent selection of a candidate for delegate to Congress in the person of Michael L. McCormack. Mr. McCormack is in the prime of life, being about thirty-five years of age. He is a native of Pennsylvania, but came to Minnesota in boyhood, his family settling in the Minnesota valley. He is emphatically a self-made man. At an early age he went upon the Mississippi river with Capt. Alex. Griggs, now of Grand Forks, who was then captain of a Mississippi steamer. In 1870 Mr. McCormack removed to Grand Forks, D. T., with his family and was captain of several different boats on the Red River. In 1878 he left the river and formed a partnership under the firm name of McCormack & Griggs and engaged in the real estate and grain business. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Monday Morning, September 20, 1880, Volume III, Number 264, Page 2)

A Sad Event. Many friends will learn with deep regret of the death of Mrs. M. L. McCormack, wife of the Democratic candidate for delegate to Congress from Dakota Territory. She died at her home at Grand Forks yesterday morning at 8 o’clock. She was nearly twenty-nine years of age and leaves an infant child three weeks old. Deceased was a sister of Capt. Alex Griggs’ wife and greatly beloved and esteemed by all who knew her. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Tuesday Morning, October 5, 1880, Volume III, Number 279, Page 1)

Yesterday the O. A. Pray Manufacturing company closed a contract with Griggs, McCormack and Grosvenor for the erection of a 150 barrel roller process flouring mill at Grand Forks, D. T. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Thursday Morning, February 23, 1882, Volume V, Number 54, Page 3)

Mr. McCormack, Mayor of Grand Forks, who has been sued by his wife’s mother, Mrs. Strong, for alleged fraudulent withholding of real estate which she deeded to him in trust, the value of which is said to be nearly $100,000, says it is a piece of blackmail. He will make no effort to compromise, but will engage the best attorneys to be had and will fight the suit to the bitter end. Before leaving home, recently, he gave Mrs. Strong two hundred dollars cash for pin-money during his absence with which she commenced the suit. A baby two years old was left alone in the house with the hired girl when Mrs. Strong left. (The Winona Daily Republican, Tuesday Evening, August 22, 1882, Page 2)

Mayor McCormack to be Married. Yesterday Mayor McCormack left for St. Paul for the purpose of bringing home as his bride, Miss Adele A. Lyons, an accomplished and attractive society lady of St. Paul, a sister of Mr. Jno. Lyons, of this city, and daughter of one of St. Paul’s leading merchants. The ceremony will occur at 4 p. m., Tuesday next at St. Paul’s cathedral. J. H. Hanson, of the Pioneer Press and E. W. Grosvenor, of this city, will act as groomsmen, while Misses Annie and Frankie Lyons, sisters of the bride, will be bridesmaids. After the wedding the newly married couple will start east on a wedding tour of two or three weeks duration. On their return here they will go to housekeeping in the Mayor’s elegant residence. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, September 29, 1882, Volume 1, Number 284, Page 1)

It is announced that the marriage of M. L. McCormack, mayor of Grand Forks, and Miss Adelia A. Lyons, daughter of our well known citizen, Maurice Lyons, will take place at the Cathedral, Tuesday, October 3d, at 4 p. m. The bride will be attended by her two sisters, Miss Annie M. and Frankie R. Lyons, while the groom will be supported by E. W. Grovenor, Esq., of Grand Forks, and Mr. J. H. Hanson, of St. Paul. The fair bride is a graduate of St. Clara academy, of Sinsinewa Mound, and is one of the most accomplished, as she is one of the most amiable young ladies of St. Paul. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Sunday Morning, October 1, 1882, Volume V, Number 274, Page 2)

Hon. M. L. McCormack, Mayor. It would be difficult to mention among the men of mark and distinction in northern Dakota, one who is more familiarly known at home, and (as a Dakotean) abroad than Hon. M. L. McCormack. He and Captain Alexander Griggs were the first white men here, arriving in 1870, when the railroad was no nearer than St. Cloud. For a number of years he was a steamboat captain, during which time he took a deep interest in Grand Forks. No commendable enterprise for furthering the growth and development of the town has ever been inaugurated, in which he has not taken a prominent part. He is president of the Grand Forks’ Roller Mill Company, one of the most extensive industries north of Minneapolis. The building is four stories in elevation, 45×54, and is conveniently arranged and appointed with the best mechanical appliances for producing flour known to the milling business and it has a steam engine of 125 horse-power. The steam supply comes from two steel boilers each 42 3×16 feet in dimensions and having fifty-eight three and one-half inch flues. There are ten sets of rollers and two run of burrs, and the capacity is 200 barrels of flour daily. Mr. McCormack is also a stockholder in the Citizen’s National Bank. He owns a large tract of land in the Red River Valley, several hundred acres of which are under cultivation. He is now serving his fourth term as Mayor of the city, having been elected each time with little opposition. (Andreas Historical Atlas of Dakota, A. T. Andreas, Chicago, The Lakeside Press, 1884, Page 254)

M. L. McCormack. The honorable secretary of the (Dakota) territory was born in Friendsville, Susquehanna county, Pa., Nov. 26, 1847, in early life removing to Minnesota, where he received the rudiments of a common school education. In the spring of 1871, when Grand Forks was but a way station for the dog trains that carried the mails, and the streets were laid out like those of Gotham, along cowpaths, he located there and clerked in the store of the Hudson’s Bay company. By dint of energy he was promoted and won the sobriquet of captain as chief officer of the steamer Alpha, of the Red River Transportation line, at a time when all the freight and passengers of this Northwest country were transported on the Red river between Fargo and Winnipeg. In 1882 the Grand Forks Roller Mill company was organized, and Capt. McCormack was elected president, and has continued in that capacity ever since, practically managing its affairs. He also became president of the Citizens’ National bank, and in the spring of that year was elected mayor of the young and thriving city, being twice re-elected without opposition.

In 1880 he was the Democratic nominee for delegate, and made an exceedingly lively canvass, considering the sparseness of Democrats in the territory in those times. He was later offered Democratic nominations, but declined them, on account of his growing business interests. In 1885 the Grand Forks National bank was organized and he became president of the new bank, a position he now occupies. When the change of administration came Mr. McCormack’s friends pushed him for a territorial appointment, and the contest was an exceedingly lively one, but was finally concluded to the satisfaction of all by the nomination of Capt. McCormack for territorial secretary, a position second only to that of governor, which he has filled with eminent satisfaction. His home in Grand Forks is pleasantly situated on the bank of the river, and his charming wife dispenses true hospitality to all comers. Mr. McCormack has two interesting children, the elder, Miss Ettie, having recently returned from school at Wheeling, W. Va. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Saturday Morning, November 12, 1887, Volume IX, Number 316, Page 9)

Hon. and Mrs. M. L. McCormack will visit their daughter, Miss Ettie, at Notre Dame, Ind. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Saturday Morning, November 28, 1891, Volume XXI, Number 24, Page 5)

M. L. McCormack. Came to this country in 1872. The first years he devoted to steamboating, reaching the position of captain. With the decline of navigation interests he took to business pursuits in which he has been eminently successful. He has cut considerable of a figure in democratic politics having been secretary of the territory, appointed by President Cleveland. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, December 11, 1891, Volume XXI, Number 35, Page 2)

The marriage of M. L. McCormack to Miss Jennie Strong, a sister of Mrs. Alex Griggs, was the next ceremony of the kind to occur in the community. (History of Grand Forks County, With Special Reference to the First Ten Years of Grand Forks City, H. V. Arnold, Larimore Pioneer, Larimore, North Dakota, 1900, Page 73)

Hon. M. L. McCormack was appointed secretary of the territory (Dakota), to succeed Hon. James H. Teller, republican, November 27, 1885. Michael L. McCormack was born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, November 26, 1847, and located in Grand Forks in the spring of 1871. He was captain of the steamboat Alpha, of the Red River Transportation Company, when all the freight and passenger business for that portion of the northwest country was transported down the Red River from Moorhead and Fargo. In 1873 Captain McCormack went into the mercantile business, under the firm name of Griggs, Walsh & Co., at Grand Forks, which firm, after doing a successful and prosperous business, sold in 1879 to Lyons & Doheny. In 1882 the Grand Forks Roller Mill Company was organized, of which Captain McCormack was made president and general manager, he owning a large share of the stock. He was president of the Grand Forks National Bank, organized in 1884, and was the nominee for Congress on the democratic ticket in 1880. The appointment of Mr. McCormack met the approval of the people, though he succeeded one of the ablest and most efficient officers Dakota had ever been favored with in any capacity. (History of Dakota Territory, Volume II, George W. Kingsbury, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1915, Page 1408)

M. L. MCCORMACK, ONE FOUNDER OF CITY, IS DEAD. Funeral Plans Incomplete; Heart Attack Caused Demise. Death Came At Home In St. Paul. Pioneer was Prominently Identified With Political and Civic Life. St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 15. – Funeral arrangements for Captain M. L. McCormack, 75, northwest pioneer, founder of Grand Forks, N. D., and prominent in the development of North Dakota, at his home here today and had not been completed tonight. No definite plans for the services had been made. It was expected in Grand Forks that funeral arrangements had not been made pending receipt of word from a daughter, Mrs. H. B. Ferguson of Waynesville, N. C. Besides Mrs. Ferguson, Mr. McCormack is survived by his wife and another daughter, Josephine McCormack, of St. Paul, and a sister, Mrs. Catherine Riley of Winnipeg, Man., Canada. Grand Forks friends of Mr. McCormack said last night that he had suffered an attack of influenza last winter, but had recovered. They said he was stricken with an attack of apoplexy on Nov. 6, but had apparently completely recovered. His death came suddenly at 12:45 o’clock Wednesday as the result of heart trouble.

Helped Found County. In the early days of the northwest he was employed by the late James J. Hill to look after Hudson Bay company interests in this territory. Mr. McCormack came to this vicinity in 1870. While North Dakota still was Indian territory, on April 1, 1871, he with the late Captain Alexander Griggs and David M. Holmes of this city, was appointed to organize Grand Forks county. These men also launched the townsite of Grand Forks, which was founded by the Griggs, Walsh company, and in 1873 selected Grand Forks as the county seat.

Held Many Offices. Mr. McCormack was the first county treasurer and organized the first school district here. Following the organization of Grand Forks city, he was selected mayor for three terms. In 1881 he served as alderman from the Fifth ward in this city. A conspicuous figure in both political and social life in Dakota territory, Mr. McCormack in 1885 was appointed by President Cleveland as secretary of state for North Dakota (Dakota Territory), this office also including the office of lieutenant governor. During this time the governor became incapacitated and Mr. McCormack served for a short period as acting governor of the state (territory). He was later elected to the state senate and served for several years as a legislator.

Active in Business. During his residence here, among other enterprises, Captain McCormack operated a store, was president of a national bank and operated the McCormack flour mill (Grand Forks Roller Mill). He also was the owner of McCormack addition, a piece of land upon which his mother-in-law had filed as a homestead, and which he later secured, and platted into lots as a part of the town of Grand Forks. This property is situated in the north end of the city. For some time he was in charge of a steamboat on the Red river, and through this he gained his title of “captain.” Two years ago Captain McCormack paid his last visit to Grand Forks. He had been a resident of St. Paul continuously during the last 25 years. His widow and two daughters survive. (Grand Forks Herald, Thursday, November 16, 1922, Page 1)

Funeral Services For M. L. McCormack To Be Held Today in St. Paul. St. Paul, Nov. 16. – Funeral services for Captain M. L. McCormack, founder of Grand Forks, N. D., and prominent in the development of North Dakota who died here Wednesday, will be held at 9 a. m., tomorrow at the cathedral here. Burial will be in cavalry cemetery in St. Paul. (Grand Forks Herald, Friday, November 17, 1922, Page 1)


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