Clan JACK Society

"criochnaich clod a thoisich thu"

Land King: The Story of David (Monterey) Jack
by Kenneth C. Jack
I was aware that my family had been native to Crieff, Perthshire for many years. My father had been born in the town in 1927 so even through him I had been a 'Crieffite' of some years standing. At the same time, I was also aware that my grandfather and Great Grandfather were born and bred in Crieff. I did not know how far back my family went so I made enquiry at New Register House in Edinburgh and confirmed that my branch of the Jack family went back several generations in Crieff.

One June day in 1985 I arrived in Crieff to visit my parents. It was a tradition with me during such visits, and still is, to read that week's copy of the local rag,
The Strathearn Herald. Immediately on my arrival, being aware of my interest in Jack family history my father threw me a copy of that week's paper suggesting that there was something in it that might interest me. I opened it and soon found the headline "Crieff Had a Multi-Millionaire!" I read on and learned that the Multi-millionaire in question was one David Jack. David Jack was a young man of humble parentage who left Crieff in 1841 and sailed to America where he eventually made a fortune, through land speculation. This is what I had always hoped to find. That one of the Jack family from Crieff had not only immigrated to a foreign land, but had become rich and famous as well. The ultimate rags to riches story. The American dream writ large. Although he would only be a boy of about 11 years at this time, and a long time away from his own American dream in Star Wars, film star and fellow Crieffite, Ewan McGregor, was clearly not the first person from the small Scottish town to make it big on the other side of the "pond."

In any event this article piqued my interest in not only Jack family history, but in the history of this man who had made his fortune in the United States of America around the time that "Billy the Kid" and "Jesse James" were roaming the range. Throughout the next 15 years or so I obtained information on what appears to have been a remarkable character. He was a generous benefactor to many, but to others he was an unscrupulous land grabber. The truth probably lies somewhere between the two. I would like to share with you the details of the life of a man, who if he was nothing else, was a larger than life character who helped open up America in the true pioneer spirit of his time. As
The Strathearn Herald of 1985 said, "Isn't it great to know that a Crieff man, of humble beginnings, made it, just wish he'd left the recipe behind."..................................

Monterey Jack Cheese

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Monterey Jack

David Jack was born at Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, the sixth of nine children of William Jack and the first of three William had by his second wife Janet McEwan. Little is known of Jack's early life, though he may have worked at handloom weaving. In 1841 he migrated to America to join two older brothers on Long Island.

David Jack

After several years working as an army contractor in Brooklyn, where he is reputed to have met Captain Robert E. Lee, Jack read about the discovery of gold in California in 1848. In November of that year he sailed with an artillery regiment to California, arriving in San Francisco in April 1849. Jack invested in guns and made a $4,000 profit on revolvers upon landing in San Francisco, and then took up a job at the city's Customs House.

In 1850 Jack moved to Monterey, initially taking up a job with in the store of a fellow Scotsman, James McKinlay. By 1852 Jack had been elected Treasurer of Monterey County and began purchasing land in the area.