Mark's parents were Seymour and Margaret Mann, hard working God-fearing Presbyterian Scottish-Irish. The Mann's worked a small farm outside town of Elder for 3 generations.
Margaret died in childbirth when Mark was four, leaving Seymour depressed and uninterested in fatherly duties.
Throughout his youth, Mark shows a love of adventure and no true interest in religion. He maintains his own moral code. A cocksure attitude and mischievous good humor attract the local girls. His red-gold hair, and athletic build don’t hurt either.
He attends Ohio Southern College, excels in sports and manages high marks, but the faculty says his “natural leadership abilities are not channeled into morally constructive outlets.”
Seymour dies of pneumonia during Mark’s sophomore year. He leaves Mark the farm and a savings account of $1852.36. Mark sells farm for $5000, then travels the midwest during summers as a door to door salesman. After college he buys Bancroft’s Bicycle Shop in town. Business thrives and the townsfolk begin to change their minds about the ‘young Mann boy.’