Marcus Mills "Brick" Pomeroy

Marcus “Mark” Mills “Brick” Pomeroy (1833-1896) was born on December 25 in Elmira, NY to Hunt and Orlina White Pomeroy. He is best known for his work in the publishing business as a writer, editor and owner of a several different newspapers.

“Brick” Pomeroy began his career in the newspaper business at age 21 working as an apprentice for the Corning Journal.  On January 24, 1854, he married the first of three wives, Anna Amelia Wheeler, with whom he had one daughter, Mary Rebecca Pomeroy.  By 1857 Marcus had moved from New York to Horican, Wisconsin and revived a failing newspaper, the Horicon Argus.  It was while working at the Horicon Argus that Pomeroy supposedly earned the nickname, “Brick.” According to an 1868 biography, his satirical rebuttal of a rival Wisconsin newspaper’s disparaging portrayal of the village of Horicon earned him the admiration of a Louisville Journal reporter who named him a “perfect brick.” At the time, a “brick” was a “facetious, funny fellow who says smart things…such as practicing a dry joke on a too smart fellow.” (The Rhode Island Schoolmaster, 1864) Pomeroy embraced the term, even writing biographical sketches titled “Brick Dust Sketches.”

As his popularity grew, Pomeroy became involved in politics and attended the Democratic National Convention in 1860 in support of Stephen Douglas. With the nation on the verge of the Civil War, Brick Pomeroy became the owner and editor of the Lacrosse Democrat, gaining fame for being an outspoken Copperhead – those who opposed the war and advocated for restoration of the Union even if slavery continued.  After Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1864, angry citizens of Lacrosse took to the streets and, forming a lynch mob, sought to destroy the Lacrosse Democrat and lynch Pomeroy, believing his anti-Lincoln writing had inspired John Wilkes Booth’s deadly act. Forewarned, Pomeroy escaped unscathed.

After the Civil War, Brick Pomeroy started the Daily Democrat Newspaper in New York City backed by the infamous Boss Tweed. His time in New York brought him wealth and notoriety.  On May 15, 1871 Pomeroy married Louise Rider with whom he had one daughter, Louise Rider Pomeroy.  In 1875, he moved to Chicago; the following year, financial ruin forced him to file for bankruptcy.  Pomeroy married his third wife on September 2, 1876. They had four children: Markella, Mark Mills Jr., Idalia and Hazel.   Later in life, he authored several books including Sense, followed by Nonsense. Now living in Colorado, Pomeroy founded The Great West newspaper. Pomeroy also served as president of the Atlantic Pacific Tunnel, an enterprise with the goal of building a railroad tunnel through the Rockies; the endeavor was a failure. Brick Pomeroy died on May 30, 1896, nearly penniless. 

Visit these links for more information on Brick Pomeroy: 

Tucker, Ruth. M.M. “Brick” Pomeroy: forgotten man of the nineteenth century. Ph.D. Northern Illinois University, 1979.

Klement, Frank L. "Brick" Pomeroy and the Democratic Processes: A Study in Civil War Politics. Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Vol. 51, 1962.

Tucker, Mrs. Mary E. Life of Mark M. Pomeroy, a Representative Young Man of America: His Early History, Character, and Public Services in Defence [sic] of the Rights of States, Rights of the People, and Interest of Working Man. New York: G.W. Carleton, 1868.