Saturday, November 24, 2018

Nampa Businessman, Investor, Novelist, and World Traveler Fred G. Mock [otd 11/24]

Idaho pioneer, author, and world traveler Fred G. Mock was born November 24, 1861 on a farm in Cumberland County, Illinois, about sixty miles south of Champagne. Fred left home when he was twelve or thirteen years old. He never explained why.

For the next fifteen years or so, Mock “knocked around” Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Colorado. He took work where he could find it, but also made time to complete a sixty-day course at a business school. 
Fred G. Mock. [Hawley]

 He arrived in Boise a few months after Idaho became a state. Mock again found work were he could for awhile. Then he and a partner opened a real estate and title business in Nampa … and soon bought the Nampa Leader newspaper. Three or four year later, they reorganized their holdings, after which Mock was identified solely with the Leader.

In late 1894, Fred married Mennah Nettleton, who became an active partner in everything Fred set out to do. In fact, the two proved to have a knack for investing in successful companies and properties. Mock sold the Leader in the spring of 1899 to focus on the couple’s investment endeavors. Mennah birthed a child in January 1901, but their son lived only a few hours.

In 1903, Mock and a half dozen partners established the Bank of Nampa, with Fred as president. He continued in that position for about four years.

Fred also found time for other activities. He served several years as Treasurer for the city of Nampa and three terms as a Deputy Assessor for Canyon County. He was active in various business and social clubs, especially the Masons. Mock was the first Grand Master for the Lodge in Nampa and also served as Grand Master for all of Idaho.

Beyond all that, in 1905 Mock published a novel, Blue Eye, which was favorably reviewed in the New York Times. He also wrote the lyrics for a popular song that debuted on the New York stage.

The Mocks lived in Portland, Oregon for several years after Fred stepped down as president of the Bank of Nampa in 1907. When they returned to Nampa, the couple began a series of automobile trips all along the Pacific Coast. Fred also wrote another novel, A Romance of the Sawtooth, published in 1917. Produced by the Syms-York Company [blog, July 6], it is believed to be the first novel published in Idaho.

Some time after a 1922 motor trip that covered western Canada, the Mocks decided to broaden their horizons. They began to travel internationally by cruise ship. Some trips we know mostly from Fred’s later interviews and lectures, while others made headlines.
Liner Empress of Scotland ca 1920. Archives, Canadian Pacific Line

Thus, in 1926, they left New York City, with considerable fanfare, on a world tour aboard the luxury liner Empress of Scotland. The ship headed east to Mediterranean stops, India, and the Far East. They returned to New York after visits to Hawaii, the West Coast, Panama, and Havana.

Yet even with all their travel, Fred was occasionally lured into other duties. He served several years as president of a Nampa building and loan association and, in 1928, was the Nampa coordinator for national “Forestry Week.”

Fred’s wife Mennah died the summer of 1929, and that may have interrupted his touring some. However, in May 1932 he married again and the couple departed on a world tour the following December. They probably cut back on their world traveling in the mid- to late-Thirties when the tensions leading to World War II rose.

Fred continued to give talks – live and on radio – about his travels when he was well over eighty years old. He passed away in October 1956.
References:  [French], [Hawley]
Jann G. Marson, Jr., “Platen Press Printing in Idaho,” Idaho Center for the Book Newsletter, Boise State University (April 2000).
“[Fred Mock News Items],” Idaho Statesman, Boise; The Oregonian, Portland (June 1891 – October 1956).

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