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Mack M. Pinckly

PINCKLY, Mack M. — One fails to find among the prominent men of McDonough County a more interesting study in human evolution than that presented in the life of Mack M. Pinckly. Mr. Pinckly, enrolled on the books of the construction company as a hod-carrier receiving seventy-five cents a day during the building of the First National Bank of Bushnell, needs no introduction to the master of monetary science who, from the presidential chair of the same institution, directs the various functions of deposits, discounts, exchange and circulation to the satisfaction of hundreds of depositors. In the driving, dynamic force of hand and will indicated in this transformation, what encouragement for the lad about to start upon his independent career minus the impediments of wealth, social standing or ancestral precedent! There was permitted that absolute freedom of choice which is a boon for the strong and resourceful, but also a curse to the weak. Yet it is known that the youth, with the heavy load on his shoulder, climbing rickety ladders and walking uncertain scaffolding, had no extravagant dreams of success. He was too busy keeping superior to the laws of gravitation. Besides, he was a worker and not a dreamer. He developed the creative and positive qualities which ever since have distinguished his career, as against the destructive and negative qualities of the speculator, or the man who wins by the suppression of remunerative industry in others. The life of this banker, builder, lumberman, former merchant, superintendent of schools and real-estate broker, is so typically American, so full of cheery, wholesome energy, so absolutely useful in all its phases, that one regrets the necessary omission of much that would bring out and vitalize his story.

Born in Bowling Green, Clay County, Ind., January 15, 1854, Mr. Pinckly is a son of B. F. Pinckley, who came from the Carolinas to Clay County at an early day, and there married Mathilda B. Gwathmey, a native of Greencastle. The elder Pinckly was a carpenter by trade, but later turned his attention to the drug business, which he followed many years and in which he engaged after his arrival in Bushnell in May, 1855. During the Civil War he enlisted in Company A, Sixteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was mustered in at Camp Douglas as First Lieutenant, and retired from the service with the rank of Captain. Resuming civilian life in Bushnell, in 1868 he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, and thereupon moved to Macomb, which remained his home until 1872. The balance of his life was spent in retirement in Bushnell, where his death occurred March 14, 1903, his wife surviving him until March 28, the same year. Mr. Pinckly was a Republican in politics, a Mason and a member of the Christian Church. Of his three children — Walter C., Mrs. Georgie P. Wallace and Mack M. — all are residents of Bushnell.

Mack M. Pinckly was a year old when his parents came to Bushnell, and his preliminary education was acquired in the public schools of this town and Macomb. As a boy he was energetic and resourceful, without a lazy hair in his head, else, doubtless, he would have been unable to graduate from the McDonough County Normal School in 1871 and hold the certificate of graduation from two high schools, and a commission as a cadet at West Point at the age of seventeen. Afterward he read law in the office of Joab & Harper at Terre Haute, Ind., clerked in a mercantile establishment of Chicago, then arising from the ashes of its terrible disaster, and upon returning to Bushnell, took up the weighty problem of forcing his energies into more permanent and remunerative channels. About this time his experiences were of a hard and monotonous character, but he eventually became interested in educational work, and in time was advanced to the superintendency of the public schools of Bushnell. This position he maintained with increasing credit until failing health compelled his resignation in 1891, during which year release from close confinement and plenty of outdoor exercise resulted in his purchase of the Haines Lumber Yard. The remodeling and enlarging of this yard was the task which Mr. Pinckly set himself to accomplish, and so well did he succeed that it now is recognized as one of the largest retail concerns in the Central West, having a shed with a double driveway under which twenty-eight teams can load at once. Four years after buying the lumber yard Mr. Pinckly began the study of architecture, for which he possesses singular gifts and the mastery of which introduced him into a large and practical field of usefulness. At the present time his name is associated with many of the finest buildings in Bushnell and Macomb, and many other parts of the county and State, included among which are residences of every kind costing from two to twenty thousand dollars. He designed and built the Cole Flats, in Bushnell, and made the designs and superintended the remodeling of the First National Bank, upon which, when his world was younger and hope ran high, he worked as a hod-carrier. His own beautiful residence, in external design and internal arrangement, embodies that ideal of personal surroundings which comes of scholarly tastes and mature experience, and which unites comfort and elegance with the least possible ostentation. His position as builder and lumberman has offered unrivaled opportunities for the acquisition of desirable real estate, and at one time he owned many fine residences and considerable other property in Bushnell. However, he long since has ceased to operate in this line of brokerage, his time being taken up with the increasingly serious responsibilities which surround him.

As a stockholder and director, Mr. Pinckly became officially connected with the First National Bank ten years ago. Upon the retirement of the former President, James Cole, in May, 1905, he undertook the management of the bank, and his election to the Presidency followed December 1, the same year. For the past twenty years he has been a stockholder and Director of the Bushnell Pump Company. By his voice in many campaigns he has been a stanch upholder of the Republican party, though declining proffered and flattering requests to accept office. He was President of the Board of Education when the West School was erected. He is fraternally connected with the Blue Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; the Knights of Pythias, of which he is Past Chancellor; the Modern Woodmen of America; the Court of Honor and the Workmen. He was for years been associated with Illinois Camp No. 100, Auxiliary Grand Army of the Republic, and for thirteen years represented the State in the National Encampment, and in recognition of his faithful services as Commander he was tendered a handsome sword. The marriage of Mr. Pinckly and Hattie E. Wheeler occurred April 24, 1879, his wife being a native of Scranton, Pa., a daughter of R. W. Wheeler, Manager of the Bushnell Pump Company. Two children have been born into the Pinckly home: Nellie M. and Benjamin W.

That no greater blessing falls across the way of mankind than the ability and will to work is emphatically endorsed by Mr. Pinckly. In his own life this creed has an amendment to the effect that a different kind of work is often the best kind of diversion. As a young man selling his labor to others, he was never one of the kind to lean up against things, to measure out his work with a yard-stick to fit with mathematical precision his salary, nor did he ever contract the habit of watching the clock, for the swinging around of the hands on the dial meant the curtailing of his opportunity to learn his superiors. As a consequence he was noticed and valued, and became a candidate for advancement. As an educator and builder the same principle of finishing what he had to do prevailed, and when to others the day seemed well spent, he would labor far into the night with plans and specifications of his buildings, doing that which the compulsory duties in other lines of business had crowded into the background. A man so honest with himself must of necessity be honest with his fellowmen; and a man so industrious is poor material for the encroachment of other than the highest ideals of citizenship. And thus it happens that the second President of the First National Bank, like his predecessor, is a man of proved character and ability; a genial philosopher and true friend; a consistent contributor to many worthy causes, giving always of his best thought and interest to the community which has profited so richly by his upright example. — By the Editor.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 977-979, extracted 17 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass.

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