NORTHERN NEW YORK
Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people and the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.
New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910.
The McCrea family lived in Galloway, Scotland, and is of ancient lineage. The name is also spelled McCrae.
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(I) William McCrea was born in Scotland in 1688, and came to America, settling in Delaware. HE had a son James, mentioned below.
(II) Rev. James McCrea, son of William McCrea, was born in 1710, died May 10, 1769. He was a Presbyterian clergyman at Lumington, New Jersey. He married in 1745, Mary Graham, who died Sept. 17, 1753.
John, mentioned below.
Mary Jane, killed by the Indians at Fort Edward, Sunday, July 27, 1777.
(III) Colonel John McCrea, son of Rev. James McCrea, was a graduate of Princeton in 1762. He studied law and was admitted to practice at Albany, New YOrk, in 1763. He settled in Northumberland, Saratoga district, N.Y., where he was living at the time the revolution broke out. He enlisted for the war, and was commissioned colonel in the thirteenth regiment of infantry from Saratoga district of Albany county, Oct. 20, 1775. He remained at his home until the near approach of Burgoyne's army rendered his further stay dangerous, when he removed to Albany and resided until his house was burned in 1781, at the time of the great fire. He then removed to Salem, New York, in 1783. He was clerk of Washington county from April 16, 1785 to Feb. 24, 1797. He died at Lisbon, St. Lawrence county, about 1811.
He married (first) in 1766, Eva Buckman, who died in 1780; (second) Eleanor, daughter of John McNaughton. He had several children, among them John, mentioned below.
(IV) John (2), son of Colonel John (1) McCrea, settled in Fort Covinton, N.Y., and died in 1863. He married twice, and had three sons and a daughter. Among his children was John, mentioned below.
(V) John (3), son of John (2) McCrea, was born at Fort Covington, N.Y., 1788, died at Potsdam, N.Y., Sept. 23, 1872, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Charles Cox.
He married Harriet Bronson, who died at Potsdam, Sept. 25, 1874, aged eighty-three years. He had a daughter, Martha Jane, named in memory of Jane McCrea, who was killed by the Indians during the revolution. She married, in 1843, Charles Cox, of Potsdam, born 1813, died 1887.
The other children were:
Henry, James, Ebenezer, Harriet, married a Mr. Foster, and Louisa, married a Mr. Raff.
This name is of Scottish origin and has been traced far back in the misty past in that country, where it originated in the Clan McRae. The latter form is used by many descendants and was employed by the family herein mentioned, though McCrea was more generally adopted by those who migrated from Scotland to Ireland and their descendants in this country. The name is distinguished here in both industrial and professional lines, and has been conspicuously identified with nothern New York.
The first generation of this line, of whom any information can now be obtained, is represented by one who accompanied Lord Abercorn from Kintail in Scotland in the movement to Ireland in the year 1610. He was given a place called Ballyheather, in the valley of the Dennet river, about eight and a half miles south of Londonderry, Ireland, and four and a half miles from Strabane. His name is supposed to have been Walter, but there is no record of him or of his children. It is certain, however, that the next mentioned was his grandson.
(I) Walter McCrea, of Ballyheather, married Miss McIntyre, who was, of course, also of Scottish lineage. They probably had several children, but there is record of only two sons - James and Walter.
(II) James, a son of Walter McCrea, resided at Ballyheather, and was the father of a son named for himself.
(III) James (2), son of James (1) McCrea, resided at Binally, about three miles east of Ballyheather, where he died in 1804. He married Sarah McCrea, of Ballyheather, probably a relative, though presumably not a near one.
Their children included:
Martha, wife of Daniel Stewart.
James, mentioned below.
(IV) James (3), son of James (2) and Sarah (McCrea) McCrea, was born 1748, on the estate of Binally (pronounced Bi-nellie), near the town of Dunnamanagh (pronounced Don-e-mana), county Tyrone. In 1776 he emigrated to America and settled at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he soon established himself as a merchant and achieved great success. He built, what was then considered a fine residence at the corner of Front street and Norris' alley (now - 1910- Sansom street), and two small houses facing on the alley for servants' quarters. The residence is still standing, but used as a warehouse. The property has never gone out of the family and is now (1910) in possession of his great-grandson, president of the Pennsylvania railroad.
Mr. McCrea preserved the home ties with his family in Ireland, but was also a loyal citizen of the United States and was honored and respected in Philadelphia, where he died Oct. 7, 1814.
He married, Jan. 8, 1776, Hannah Alexander, of Scottish birth, daughter of ____ Alexander, of Auch Mull.
Elizabeth S., wife of John Jackson.
James, died young.
Jane, married Joseph Patterson.
Hannah, wife of Dr. John Hustan Gordon.
Margaret, married (first) Daniel Bezalgette; (second) Edward Rudge.
James, mentioned below.
(V) James (4), third son of James (3) and Hannah (Alexander) McCrea, was born 1792 in Philadelphia, and died in 1832, in New York, where most of his life was spent. He was possessed of means, and did not engage in active business.
He married, in 1816, Joanna, daughter of Augustine Lawrence, a wealthy citizen of New York, and their children were:
Augustine L., mentioned below.
Mrs. Joseph Hopkinson.
Captain Edward P., of the U.S. navy, born 1832, died 1881.
(VI) Augustine Lawrence, eldest child of James (4) and Joanna (Lawrence) McCrea, was born Jan. 5, 1817, at the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane in New York City, and grew up there. He attended public schools and subsequently had the instruction of private tutors, becoming proficient in the French and other languages.
At the age of only twenty years, he as appointed French consul at New Orleans, Louisiana, where he continued six or seven years. Returning to New York he remained here but a short time, and in 1850 went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he engaged in banking, as head of the firm of McCrea & Bell. Eight years later he removed to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he continued in the banking business and was identified with many local enterprises. He built a plank road from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac, and opened the first iron mine in that section, located near Sheboygan. He was the possessor of forty thousand acres of land upon which he settled Welch and German immigrants, and acted for some years as Indian agent of the government.
In 1861 he removed to Chicago and opened a coal yard on West Van Buren street, being a member of the firm of O. W. Goit & Company, which furnished fuel to camp Douglass when it was employed as a prison for rebel soldiers.
He was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, and operated vessels sailing to Green Bay, Buffalo, and various points along the Great Lakes. The great Chicago fire of October 1871, destroyed all his possessions and he immediately removed to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed to a responsible position under the government, having charge of the plates from which money was printed, the property of the American Bank Note Company. This continued for a period of fifteen years.
He again became a pioneer in mining operations, and in 1875 opened talc mines at Gouverneur, New York, and established mills there for grinding the mineral and preparing it for use in paper manufacture. He organized the Agalite Fibre Company and erected mills in the town of Fowler, near the mine, but this was subsequently abandoned because steam power was required in their operation, while water power was easily available. This business subsequently passed into the hands of his son and namesake. Mr. McCrea retired from active business in 1897, and died in 1898, in Boston, at the age of eighty-two years, and his body was interred in Chicago.
He was one of the first to engage in the oil business when means had been discovered for refining petroleum, and was also engaged in gypsum mining in Michigan.
His life was most active, and he was instrumental in developing many industries.
In religion he was an Episcopalian, and he was the only one of his tribe who was a Republican in politics.
He married, in Sept., 1850, Louise Gertrude Terry, born Aug. 2, 1827, daughter of Edward Pomeroy and Sophia H. R. (Pollock) Terry, of Hartford, Conn. (See Terry, VI). She died in March, 1864. He married (second), in 1866, Ernestine Reynolds.
There were three sons and a daughter of the first marriage:
Augustine L., mentioned below.
James Edward, engaged in mining in Butte, Montana, and died in 1902, in Chicago.
Louise, now the widow of Edward Cruse, residing in Florence, Italy.
Alexander Sterling, an officer of the U. S. navy, subsequently engaged in the book trade in Kansas City, Missouri, whence he died in 1904.
(VII) Augustine Lawrence (2), eldes child of Augustine Lawrence (1) and Louise G. (Terry) McCrea, was born April 12, 1852, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and very early turned his attention to business matters. When fifteen years old he became first office clerk in the office of the Elgin Watch Company in Chicago, and there continued four years. In the meantime he had been a student at Racine (Wisconsin) College, and a freshamn before he was fifteen years old. At the age of nineteen years he engaged in business on his own account at St. Paul, Minnesota, and there continued three years.
In 1875 he went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in the following year published a guide book of the Centennial Exposition, which was sold outside the grounds at ten cents per copy, and realized handsomely for his time and labor.
In June, 1877, he went to Gouverneur, N.Y., it being then his intention to proceed to the Pacific coast, visiting the talc mines, chiefly controlled by his father and uncle. He became intereted in their operation and suggested numerous changes and improvments. Being a young man of practical nature he secured attention and was urged to abandon his western journey and take an interest in the enterprise. He consented to this on condition that he become genearl superintendent of the mines and mills, with personal charge of their management. From this time the business moved forward successfully and grew in dimension and importance. His interests in that industry continued until he retired from it many years later.
The Agalite Fibre Company, in which he had become financially interested, purchased the Clark & Howard mill in Hailesboro, being one of the best water powers on the Oswegatchie, and fitted it up with the best machinery then attainable for the purpose. Here they introduced revolving cylinders, which enables them to pulverize the foliated talc, and soon after secured mineral rights near Freemansburg, and abandoned the original mines, securing all their material from the new mines. By this time the business was thoroughly and successfully established, and in 1880 another mill was purchased and refitted for use in preparing talc for the market.
In 1893 Mr. McCrea organized the International Pulp Company, which absorbed these industries, and of which he was principal owner. He opened the pyrites mine at Hermon, N.Y., which he subsequently sold out for over $100,000, and subsequently opened and developed similar mines, selling the last property for $160,000. He is still the owner of the mine water power at High Falls, and other pyrites property, as well as valuable property in New York City, which was inherited from the Lawrence family through his father.
Since 1906 his home has been in the metropolis.
McCrea was more active than any other perhaps in building up the village of Gouverneur, which will ever owe much to his enterprise, industry and executive ability. Among other improvements he made in that town was the construction of the St. Lawrence Inn at a cost of $75,000. In 1895 he was elected mayor of Gouverneur, being the only Democrat mayor in St. Lawrence county, which is one of the great Republican strongholds of the state.
He married, Nov. 11, 1880, Caroline Johnson, born March 27, 1863, in Gouverneur, daughter of James and Elizabeth (Kenney) Johnson, the former a native of Vermont, and the latter of Scottish and Dutch descent.
Daniel Wadsworth, mentioned below.
The daughter, born 1881, was married in 1905 to John R. Keeler, and resides (1910) in Canton, N.Y.
(VIII) Daniel Wadsworth, only son of Augustine Lawrence (2) and Caroline (Johnson) McCrea, was born April 23, 1883, in Gouverneur, and was educated in the high school of that town and Columbia Institute, New York, from which he graduated in 1901. He removed to New York City in 1898, with his parents, and subsequently returned to northern New York and took charge of the pyrites mines at High Falls, where he remained three and a half years. He returned to New York City in 1904 and became a general insurance broker, in which he achieved success, and is now (1910) resident manager of the Federal Union Security Company of Washington, with offices at No. 1 Liberty street.
Following the precepts of his father, he supports the Democratic party, but takes little part in political movements.
He is unmarried.
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