At the corner of Ninth and Church Streets in Indiana, is the beautiful townhome of Harry McCreary, the house is currently the home of the Law Office of Myron Tomb and the Law Offices of Thomas A. Kauffman. Mr. McCreary is most notably known for his role as the Owner of McCreary Tire and Rubber Company; however, he was also a pioneer in the development of the coal and coke operations in Indiana County.
Harry McCreary was born on October 30, 1863 in Leechburg to Hiram and Ruey (Orris) McCreary. As with most children of that time, Harry was educated in the public school and then later completed the course in the Utica, New York, Business College. He was later employed as an instructor at the Business College until the spring of 1883, at which time he was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Huffs Scales, near Greensburg. After a few months with the Pennsylvania Railroad, McCreary entered the employment of J.W. Moore, of Greensburg, an extensive coal operator in the Connellsville coke region, who was at that time engaged in the manufacture of coke at the Redstone Coke Works, Brownfield station, near Uniontown. After the plant near Uniontown was sold, McCreary built two large coke plants for Moore, near Mount Pleasant. Again, these plants were sold, and once again two more plants were built at Graceton, it was here that McCreary developed a process for washing coal and its success was one of the chief reasons for the prompt purchasing of coal in that whole section of the country.
Mr. McCreary disposed of his various industrial interests in Indiana County and moved to California and Nevada for a period of four years from 1902 until 1906. Upon his return to Indiana County, he again became involved in the coal business until 1914.
Ground Breaking and Commencement of Production at McCreary Tire and Rubber
It was in June of 1914 that ground was broken for the McCreary Tire and Rubber Company just southwest of Indiana. Construction of the plant moved rapidly, and the plant was quickly in operation.
Those present at the ground-breaking ceremony were Mr. and Mrs. McCreary and their two sons. The ground-breaking began around 6:30 in the morning; Mrs. McCreary read the First Psalm and Mr. McCreary gave a short prayer in which he asked the blessing of God on the new enterprise. Following, Mrs. McCreary swung the first pick into the ground and then Mr. McCreary shovel the first dirt, followed by their sons doing the same.
Mr. McCreary stated three reasons why they were embarking on this new venture, and he listed them in order of importance. First, was for the glory of God and furthering His Kingdom through the profits earned by the new industry. Second, that honorable work with good wages and working conditions be provided for citizens of Indiana and the vicinity; and then he would be kept busy in a worthwhile project for the remainder of his life. Finally, that his two sons would be busily employed after he passed on and not dissipate any inheritance that he would leave.
It was in May 1915 that the first tires were produced, which were probably experimental and test operations as actual production of products for sale didn’t begin until the middle of June. At the time of the plant’s opening there were only twelve employees, including Mr. McCreary, a sales person and a secretary. The original building was 48 x 215 feet, with power provided by a huge 250-horsepower steam engine with an 18-tone flywheel.
The production at the plant tended to be seasonal, with a falling off during the fall and winter months. That seasonal production continued until McCreary’s death. Throughout the summer, the employee numbers increased to 27, but declined to only 3 by November, those three included the salesperson, secretary, and a watchman. That first year, 1915, production was 500 tires, with a guarantee for 2,000 miles and sometimes the tires did not last that long.
Mr. McCreary devoted much of his time to the development and operation of his company. His sons, Ralph W. and Harry C. McCreary were associated with their father in the operation of the business and continued in the leadership role of the company. McCreary Tire and Rubber was eventually sold, becoming Specialty Tire of America.
Apart from his business ventures, Mr. McCreary was also active in civic affairs, and was the most liberal subscriber to the erection of the YMCA building in Indiana in 1912, and he served as president of the “Y” Board of Directors. Further, he was a member or Zion Lutheran Church, and taught men’s Bible Class for many years and was secretary of the church council.
Mr. McCreary was united in marriage on May 16, 1894 to Lizetta M. Work, of East Mahoning Township. Mrs. McCreary died in March 24, 1923. Mr. McCreary continued working in his business up to his death on August 16, 1930.
The McCreary Home
At the time that Mr. McCreary had the home on the corner lot, Indiana was split between the East and the West, so the home was located on First and Church streets (today it is Ninth Street). At the time, the visitor would notice the unique front porch that, at the time, extended all along the front of the house. There was also an artistic and spacious porch along the rear of the house.
Inside the home was as eloquent as the outside. The house contained a reception hall, with a fancy stair case finished in oiled hard wood. Located on the first floor, beside the hall, were a parlor, library, dining room and kitchen. There was a back stairway leading from the dining room to the second floor. Adjoining the kitchen was a pantry and connected to the dining room was a china closet. The second floor contained four bedrooms, a bathroom, closets and a linen room. The third floor was finished, containing one room that was used for storage.
The next time you go by this eloquent home, remember the innovator who once lived in the home. Mr. McCreary was an important member of society and the industry that he created is still a staple in the Indiana community.
*Title comes for the company slogan.
Harry C. and Ralph W. McCreary remembers ground breaking printed in the Indiana Evening Gazette, Nov. 1952.