John Joseph Mackrell
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

JOHN JOSEPH MACKRELL was born in the old village of Lansingburg, now the city of Troy, on March 29, 1879, son of John and Ellen (Egan) Mackrell. His father died in the year 1880, leaving besides the widow and son, a daughter, Helen Monica.

John Joseph Mackrell received his preliminary education in the schools of the Lansingburg district, first having attended St. Augustine's Academy, next Powers School, and finally St. Augustine's Academy again, from which he graduated in 1897. During his periods of vacation from school, from the time he was twelve years of age until he graduated, he was variously employed, doing farm work, and in the factories of the United Shirt and Collar Company, the Holmes and Ide Collar Company, Madden Lumber Company, Morrison Brush Company, Lansingburg Forge Works, and by Eugene Morris, who at that time was operating a collar express. Upon graduation he determined tostudy law, and for that purpose connected himself with the offices of Farrell & Finder, located at No. i6 First street, Troy, New York. While studying law, to support himself and pay the expenses of his education, in his spare time he was employed first by the Trojan Clothing Company, and later by A. T. Small and W. A. Dorrance, both of whom conducted shoe stores. In addition, he was the manager of a daily reporting financial agency. In 1901 he was admitted to the bar but after admission his health failed and, as a result, for some months he was physically incapacitated. Upon recovery, he took up the practice of law with the firm of attorneys with which he had studied, remaining with them until the year 1904, when he opened law offices at No. 47 Third street, Troy, New York. Subsequently he removed to No. 350 Broadway, then to No. 5 State street, and from there to Cannon place, where he is now located. He had always practiced law by himself until January, 1923, when he associated with him as a co-partner, Charles J. Ranney, a young attorney of this city, the firm being known as Mackrell & Ranney.

Early in life Mr. Mackrell took an interest in politics. In fact, even before he was a voter, he was active in that field, having aligned himself with the Democratic party. In 1900 he was the Democratic nominee for the office of member of Assembly in the First Assembly District of Rensselaer County, his opponent being the late Hon. John M. Chambers. The district was overwhelmingly Republican, but by dint of hard work and strenuous efforts, Mr. Mackrell, tho' defeated, succeeded in materially reducing the normal Republican majority. In 1904 he was appointed examiner of election officials by Hon. Joseph F. Hogan, then Mayor of the city. He served in that office until January i, 1906, when Hon. Elias P. Mann was elected mayor. In 1909 Mr. Mackrell was the Democratic candidate for the office of justice of the City Court. He was again defeated, but only by a slight majority. In 1911 he was a candidate on the Democratic ticket for the office of president of the Common Council and was elected to that office by a most flattering majority. He served in that capacity for four years, after which he voluntarily retired to devote all his time to the practice of his profession. It was his intention not to seek public office again. In 1918, however, the leaders of the party sought him as the party's candidate for senator, against the late Hon. George B. Wellington, then the occupant of that office. Senator Wellington was a very capable and strong representative, but the Democratic leaders believed that with an active candidate Senator Wellington could be beaten, even though the district was normally Republican by from 2,000 to 4,000 majority. Mr. Mackrell consented to run and made one of the most vigorous campaigns ever made in Rensselaer County. He was elected by approximately 400 majority, the first Democratic representative in the State Senate to be sent from Rensselaer County in several years.

While Senator he interested himself in legislation of much import to his district. He sponsored the bill which had for its purpose the freeing of the Congress Street Bridge, carrying an appropriation of $800,000. He collaborated with Assemblyman Malone, then from Albany county, in the legislation which had for its purpose the freeing of the Greenbush Bridge, carrying with it an appropriation of $890,000. He sponsored the bill which had for its purpose contributions upon the part of the State of New York, of the sum of $300,000, in order to reconstruct the Cohoes-Lansingburg Bridge, which had been destroyed by fire, so that while he was senator, either directly or indirectly, he was an important factor in having legislation passed which meant appropriations for the benefit of Rensselaer County amounting to approximately $2,000,000. He also became interested in the teachers' salary legislation, the purpose of which was to provide contribution upon the part of the State to the various municipalities and school districts to the end that the then poorly paid teachers would have their salaries increased. He was a particularly strong advocate of such a character of that legislation as would assist up-State, city, and rural school districts. He made such a study of the legislation that he was appointed on a committee to investigate State-wide teachers' salary conditions and was continued as a member of that committee after his term of office as senator expired.

While serving in the Senate he was a member of the judiciary, counties and internal affairs committees. As a member of the judiciary committee he was one of those who investigated the charge of Senator George F. Thompson to the effect that he had been offered a $500,000 bribe in connection with the Carson-Martin legislation, now a matter of history. Mr. Mackrell voluntarily retired from the officeof senator after one term, desiring not to again become a candidate for that honor. In 1921 he was elected chairman of the Democratic City Committee of the city of Troy, by virtue of which he became the personal manager of the campaign of Hon. James W. Fleming, the party's candidate for mayor. Through his efforts one of the most powerful and detailed working political organizations ever moulded together in Rensselaer County was perfected. Mayor Fleming and his associates on the Democratic ticket were elected by the unprecedented majority of something like 4,500. Shortly after the election Mr. Mackrell resigned as chairman of the City Committee. He was the Democratic candidate for the office of mayor of Troy in 1923, but was defeated by Harry E. Clinton. On January 1, 1923, he was appointed first deputy secretary of State, which position he is now holding.

Activity stands out prominently in Mr. Mackrell's life. Born of poor parents, losing his father when but one year of age, he was confronted with the absolute necessity of hard work, and in that respect he was not found wanting. Even tho' active politically, he has paid the closest attention to the practice of law. To-day he is one of the most successful members of the Rensselaer County bar and has built up a very substantial law practice. He is a student of details, a forceful talker, and is always thoroughly prepared. Withal, he has found time for other labors worthy of mention and in more than one instance has given evidence of marked administrative and executive ability. Always interested in the youth, he was the first president of Lansingburg Playgrounds Association. It was while he was occupying- that office that the old Twelfth Street Park was, by ordinance of the Common Council, appropriated for playground purposes. Under Mr. Mackrell's supervision, it was developed and equipped as the leading playground of the city. He remained the president for four years, until the city took over the management of the institution. Later he became president ot the Laureate Boat Club, occupying the position for two years. When he assumed his duties the club was in a deplorable state, both physically and financially. In the two years Mr. Mackrell was president the club house and grounds were completely renovated and the organization placed upon a self-sustaining basis. In September, 1921, he was chosen grand knight of Lansingburg Council, Knights of Columbus. During his term of office the membership roll was increased by over one hundred, the club house completely equipped and furnished, a gymnasium installed, and the mortgage upon the property satisfied in full. If one were to ask concerning his leanings in the direction of the lighter things in life, the answer would be athletics, but even in this direction he has indicated a strenuous tendency. In his youth he was of a frail makeup, physically. To develope himself in that respect he joined the Laureate Boat Club and took up rowing. In a short time he became an expert oarsman and in his first year as a member won the Junior Championship of the organization. Afterwards he competed in many regettas and is to-day the possessor of many medals as evidence of his skill with the oars. He also took up baseball, football, and basketball. Of late years he has confined himself to tennis, measuring up to the average player in this section. His indulgence in athletics has kept him in most excellent physical condition. Besides the Knights of Columbus and the Laureate Boat Club, he is also a member of the Troy Lodge of Elks, Riverside Club, the Troy Club, Rensselaer County Society, Rensselaer County Bar Association, Troy Chamber of Commerce and St. Joseph's Club. Mr. Mackrell is a communicant at St. Augustine's Church, Upper Troy, New York.

Mr. Mackrell married, on July 31, 1923, Margaret E. Connery, and is a resident of Lansingburg, where he has lived since his birth.

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