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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM HENRY McCREA, attorney-at-law, Newville, Pa., is a grandson of William McCrea, who left County Tyrone, Ireland, for this country in June, 1790, in the good ship “Sally,” bringing with him his wife, Margaret (Ballantyne), daughter Sarah, and an infant son Walter, who died on shipboard. He settled the same year near Graham’s Bridge, in West Pennsboro township, Cumberland county, and after living there several years moved to the vicinity of Bloserville, in Frankford township, where he died in 1837, his wife Margaret having died in 1822. To William McCrea and wife were born eight children: Sarah, wife of James Wallace; Walter, deceased; Martha, wife of Alexander Logan; Catherine, wife of Robert Giffin; Margaret, wife of James Hume; Jane, wife of Robert Fenton; William, who married Mary Jane, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Mentzer) Snyder; and John.

John McCrea, the father of William Henry McCrea, was born May 28, 1803. On June 15, 1854, he married Barbara Martha Snyder (sister of his brother William’s wife). A few years prior to his marriage John McCrea had bought the McCormick Mill property, known as Donegal Mills, near Doubling Gap, in Lower Mifflin township, this county. Here two children were born to them: William Henry and Martha Ellen, who became the wife of Howard M. Koser in 1882. John McCrea died March 15, 1870, and his remains were laid at rest by the side of his father and mother in the Big Spring Presbyterian graveyard at Newville, Pa. He was a man of whom it could be said, “None knew him but to love him.” He never did an unkind or an uncharitable act in his life. His nature was such that his mind could not conceive a mean thing. His first vote was cast in 1824 for Gen. Jackson and from that date he never swerved in his devotion to the Democratic party, in fifty-five years never missing an election, either special or general. He never sought or occupied any office of profit. Surrounded by his family, and in the enjoyment of the few standard historical and theological works which abounded in all Scotch-Irish homes in that day, he was content to do his duty as he saw it, quietly and without ostentation.

Barbara Martha McCrea, wife of John McCrea, was born July 15, 1818, and was the daughter of Henry Snyder and Elizabeth (Mentzer) Snyder, who were natives of Manor township, Lancaster Co., Pa. They came to this county in the early years of the last century, after having spent some years in Dauphin county. Henry Snyder was the son of Peter Snyder and Mary (Black) Snyder, and had two brothers, George and Philip, and two sisters, Katie and Mollie. George went to Erie county and died there, being thrown out of a buggy on his way to church and fatally injured. Philip lived in Cox’s Town, Lancaster Co., Pa., and was killed playing ball. Katie became Mrs. Brenner and Mollie Mrs. Sheets. The traditions of the family are that Peter Snyder was a land owner of some extent in said Lancaster county, and that he occupied a large stone house with a veranda extending along the whole front.

Henry Snyder died March 29, 1847. Elizabeth (Mentzer) Snyder, who died in December, 1868, was the daughter of Frederick Mentzer and _____ (Saltzgiver), both of whom died in Frankford township and are buried in the Gayman burial ground near Alter’s Mill. Elizabeth (Mentzer) Snyder had brothers and sisters as follows: Frederick, who married Katie Thomas; Henry, who married Catherine Sipe; John, who married Betsey Ernst; Katie, who married John Musser; Barbara, who married Jacob Sipe; and Polly, who married Andrew Ernst.

To Henry Snyder and Elizabeth (Mentzer) Snyder were born children as follows: George, who married______ ; Elizabeth, who married Nicholas Failor; Catharine, who married Andrew Comrey; Mary Jane, who married William McCrea; Simon, unmarried; Henry, who married Mary Jane Harper; Sophia, who married John Wise; Nancy Ellen, who married George W. Jacoby; and Barbara Martha, who married John McCrea.

William Henry McCrea was born Jan. 13, 1856, at the Donegal Mills in Lower Mifflin township, Cumberland Co., Pa. His early education was obtained at the little brick schoolhouse in Doubling Gap, where he had for an instructor for a number of years William M. Hamilton, who was an able teacher. In the fall of 1874 he began teaching at the State Road schoolhouse, then known as Blean’s, in Mifflin township. The following summer he attended the spring session of the Normal School at Shippensburg, Pa., then under the efficient and able management of Prof. George P. Beard, after which for five successive terms he taught the State Road school. In 1880 he accepted a position in the grammar school at Newville, Pa., and two years later was promoted to the principalship of the Newville schools, which office he held for five years. In 1887, after a spirited contest, he received the Democratic nomination for prothonotary of Cumberland county, and was practically elected without opposition, his Republican opponent having withdrawn from the ticket. His term as prothonotary and deputy prothonotary continued until the summer of 1894, when he became chairman of the Democratic standing committee in the heated judicial contest of that year. He was appointed in 1895 deputy collector of Internal Revenue, having special charge of the income tax for the 9th District of Pennsylvania. After that act was declared unconstitutional he returned to Newville and entered upon the study of the law, was admitted to practice in February, 1899, and has followed that profession ever since.

Mr. McCrea in politics has not departed from the traditions of his elders and conscientiously believes that the best interests of the country would be subserved by the triumph of Democratic principles. At the present time he is a director in the First National Bank of Newville, Pa., has been secretary of the Agricultural Association of Cumberland county for fifteen years, is a member of the Newville school board and is one of the board of trustees of the United Presbyterian Church of Newville of which he is a member.

On Oct. 19, 1898, Mr. McCrea married Katherine Jane Wiest, who was the daughter of John Leonard Wiest and Sarah Jane (McIlvaine). To them have been born three children, Sarah McIlvaine, Barbara Snyder and Elizabeth Norcross.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

View additional Cumberland County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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