Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 521] president of the Western Pennsylvania Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and well-known citizen of the city of New Castle, was born Jan. 30, 1838, in Mercer Co., Pa., that portion of which was later incorporated as a part of Lawrence County. His father, Jacob McCracken, was the son of Jacob McCracken, Sr., and grandson of George McCracken, who was born in Scotland and moved to Ireland, where he reared his family and engaged in agricultural pursuits. Jacob McCracken, Sr., was born and lived his entire life probably near Newton, Limavady, County of Londonderry, Ireland. He married Isabella McCay, and to them were given four children, named: George; Jacob, Jr.; William; and Isabella (Wallace).

Our subject's father was born in 1805 near Newton, Limavady, Ireland, and when a lad of fourteen years, with his mother, brothers and sister, emigrated to America, and settled in the valley of Slippery Rock Creek, this county, where he became engaged in agricultural pursuits. He married Elizabeth Wallace, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (Reader) Wallace of Mahoning township. The following named children composed the parental household: George; Elizabeth; Jacob; Robert W.; Isabella (Stewart); Mary J. (Stewart); Sarah; William F.; Rosanna H.; and Margaret. Both of our subject's parents are now deceased, the mother dying in 1892, aged seventy-eight years, and the father passing away in 1885.

The first twenty years of our subject's life was spent on the farm; he then entered Westminster College, and graduated in 1861 after a hard struggle to meet the necessary expenses of his education by teaching school in the winters and working. on the farm in the summer time through harvest. In May, 1861, he enlisted in Co. G, 10th Reg. Pa. Reserves, and was in the service of the stars and the stripes three years, participating in all the battles of the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to June 7, 1864. He entered the service as a private in the ranks, and was successively promoted to be sergeant in his company, adjutant of his regiment and then to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 191st Reg. Pa. Vol. Inf. He was seriously injured May 30, 1864, by a gunshot wound in his left leg at Bethesda Church, in the opening encounter of the battle of Cold Harbor, and on this account was mustered out of the service and honorably discharged June 11, 1864.

On Oct. 19, 1865, he was joined in the bonds of matrimony with Miss Mary E. McCreary, daughter of John McCreary, who in 1802 became a settler in what is now Hickory township, Lawrence County. On May 4, 1866 our subject was elected to the superintendency of the schools of Lawrence County, and was thus engaged in directing the educational work of the schools of the county for three years. In the fall of 1869, he was elected as a member of the State Legislature on the Republican ticket, and after serving his term spent two years at home on his farm. In 1872 he became proprietor and editor of the Lawrence Guardian, and successfully conducted it until he disposed of his interest in 1892. In 1873, he was elected a second time to the State Legislature, and was a memher of the State Senate from 1881 to 1884. He was the author and introducer of the famous McCracken Bill, in 1883, the House of Representatives then being Democratic, providing for the apportionment of the State into Congressional, Senatorial and Legislative districts, which for more than six months was the subject of contention between the two Houses of the Pennsylvania Legislature. During the last eight years he has served continuously as a member of the Board of Controllers of the Public Schools of the city of New Castle, and for two years was president of the board. He is a man of sound judgment, and wonderful memory, and while in the Senate was sometimes referred to as the walking encyclopedia; it was said that he could give the result of the vote in every district and locality of the State, and the exact majority of each candidate. Mr. McCracken is also a surveyor and engineer by profession, and has done considerable work in that line. He has been president of the Western Pennsylvania Mutual Fire Insurance Company since its organization. He is a member of the following societies: Lodge of the Craft, No. 433, F. & A. M.; G. A. R. Post, No. 100; and Union Veteran Legion, No. 9.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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Updated: 12 Jul 2001