Henry Montgomery Dearing was born August 15, 1839 at Pughkeepsie, New York,the son of Henry W. and Elizabeth Armstrong Dearing. H.M.’s grandfather JohnDearing came from Dutchess County, twelve miles east of Albion. John’s sonMatthew Dearing lived along the road which now bears the family name, DearingRoad, east of Parma. H.M.’s family also lived in the vicinity. Henry lived withhis parents until 1855; at the age of sixteen he came to Albion.
H.M. attended the Albion schools and then Albion College in 1855. Afterengaging in the dry goods business for fifteen years, he was hired as cashier ofthe National Exchange Bank of Albion in 1877, replacing Lyman B. Miner. Dearingretained the position of cashier throughout the remaining existence of the bankswhich followed. He served on the Village Council in 1884, the Albion schoolboard 1886-87 and other years, on the Board of Water Commissioners, and astreasurer of the local Baptist Church, which was built and financed under hisleadership. H.M. lived at 613 E. Cass St. The house was moved to East Erie St.,in the late 1950’s to make way for GoodrichChapel, and demolished in 1869 whenthe International House was built.
Seeing how easy it had been to forge bank loan notes, H.M. then introducedhis son Palmer to the forgery scheme, and the two men began forging loannotes of the Cook Manufacturing Company on the names of people throughout the country.Originally the Dearing’s had intended to pay the money back as soon asbusiness began making a profit. Unfortunately, the plan snowballed into hugeamounts of money, as the Dearing’s pumped vast amounts of money into the companyto save it.
Before the scheme was revealed, the forgeries had climbed to $325,000, thelargest forgery scheme in U.S. banking history at the time. The scandal not onlymade headlines in local newspapers, but was also covered in state and nationalpapers. The prison sentence for H.M. Dearing stated that he could be released fromprison after only three years. They were released together on December 24, 1925.He then left for Sandstone to stay with his cousin, Henry Perrine Dearing, onMichigan Avenue near Dearing Road, where his wife had been living.
H.M. secured a job at the Ford Motor Company as a bookkeeper. His son Palmerwas employed by that firm in another department. Ironically, Henry and his sonGeorge died on the same night of May 17-18, 1927 in unrelated incidents. Henry died at his home at 136 Grove Avenue in Highland Park at the age of 87.
Source: Frank Passic. Albion’s Banks and Bankers. Albion, Michigan:Albion Civic Foundation. 1985.
Henry Montgomery Dearing was cashier at the First National Bank of Albion. Dearing served as treasurer of the Albion Public Schools from 1879-1880 to 1885-1886, and was president of the school board from 1886-1887 to 1890-1891.
Source: Frank Passic. A History of the Albion Public Schools. Albion, Michigan: E. Weil Publishing Services. 1991.