John E Mack was born in Poughkeepsie in 1874 and died in the 1950s. Other than FDR and maybe Hamilton fish, John Mack was the most famous politician and lawyer in the history of the county. He bought East Mountain above Clove Valley, over 1000 acres of woodland for $5,000 during the depression. His farm was much larger and had its own sawmill, trails and famous plantings. His granddaughter owns the farm now and it has been rented out for many years. Every Spring if you look at the field to the South of the house along the Clove Road you will still see a large field filled with spectacular peonies. As I mentioned in an earlier blog FDR used to come and fish on the property which Mack stocked with trout for the President’s pleasure. I have put three quotes from an extensive biography which you can access if you have the time and interest by clicking on the link below.
While maintaining his home in Arlington Mack purchased land in the Clove and developed a thousand acre farm. His gardens at both sites were famous. He was known particularly for his expertise with peonies, gladioli, dahlias, roses, evergreens and shrubs. He gave blossoms, bulbs and cuttings away most prodigally. His trout pond and streams in Clove Valley brought pleasure to his many visitors as well as to the family. Having noted the poor quality of poultry on county farms, he began to breed a fine strain of the Rhode Island Red which he called Arlington Red. His knowledge of gardens and farming came from reading and he hired others to carry out his ideas.
The New York Times covered a visit by FDR and Franklin Jr. to the “guarded acres” of Judge Mack for fishing. Headlines on June 27, 1939 read “President is Silent on Defeat by Senate, Goes Fishing.” FDR caught 14 trout that day (about 1-1/2 pounds a piece) and each of the Secret Servicemen caught one. In August FDR ordered “Trout Breeding,” an authoritative text on raising trout from Scopes & Co. in Albany for Mack’s Christmas present. He actually gave him the book in September.
On June 30, of that year Mack placed the name of his old friend in nomination for the presidency of the United States. FDR announced his selection of Mack for the job on June 20. “I am very happy that my old friend and neighbor John E. Mack has been good enough to say that he will make the nominating speech in my behalf at the Democratic National Convention. Aside from my close association with him, covering a period of twenty-five years, it seems to me very fitting that the same man who, in 1910, placed me in nomination for the first office for which I was ever a candidate should once more act as my sponsor.” (New York Times, June 20, 1932, p.3). Mack was not a delegate to the Chicago convention which he addressed.