Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wayman Crow McCreery

(Wayman Crow McCreery), son of Phocian R. McCreery and Mary Jane (Hynes) McCreery, was born in St. Louis in the year 1851. His father was born in Kentucky, but had settled in St. Louis eleven years previous to Wayman's birth, and had gone into the dry goods business in partnership with Mr. Wayman Crow, the firm being known as Crow, McCreery & Company. It did a very large amount of profitable business, and Mr. McCreery invested much of his share of the profits in real estate. His name is connected with some of the best buildings in the city, including the building at the corner of Broadway and Chestnut street, now known as Hurst's Hotel, which was erected in 1861, and which was, at that time, the finest building in the city. His enterprise proved a great stimulus to the erection of costly office and public buildings, and his example was very generally followed. His mother, Mary Jane McCreery, was a daughter of Colonel Andrew Hynes, of Nashville, Tennessee, who was a bosom friend of General Andrew Jackson.

Young Wayman received his educational training at the Washington University, where he remained until he was eighteen years of age. He was an apt and industrious pupil and made rapid progress in his studies. On leaving the Washington University he went to Racine, Wisconsin, where he received a thorough university education, graduating with high honors in the year 1871. Returning to the city of his birth and early days, he became connected with the dry goods firm of Crow & McCreery, remaining with it for three years. He then entered the real estate business in partnership with Mr. James Towers, the firm name being McCreery & Towers, with offices at 705 Pine street. The firm continued as thus constituted for a period of twelve years, when Mr. Towers withdrew from the partnership, and Mr. McCreery continued in business alone, at 715 Chestnut street. There is no real estate agent in the West more highly respected or looked up to than Mr. McCreery. He has been appointed sole agent for the magnificent Security Building on Fourth and Locust streets, in which his offices are now located. His principal work during recent years has been the management and control of large and valuable estates, and he has been uniquely successful in the plotting out and development of valuable tracts of land. He was in practical control of the Concordia tract containing fourteen acres, which he subdivided and sold at a very substantial profit for the owners. He also negotiated the ninety-nine years' lease of the corner of Tenth and Olive streets, now occupied by the Bell Telephone Company, and he is practically the pioneer of the long term system in this city.

Mr. McCreery is now consulted by large capitalists as to the best method of investing in St. Louis realty, and is known as one of the most impartial and conservative men in the city. His advice is invariably accepted, and his clients following it have almost invariably made exceedingly handsome profits. Mr. McCreery is now a very wealthy man, but he is kind and courteous to all, and may be regarded as a type of the business men who have forced St. Louis to the front and made it one of the most important cities in the world, commercially, socially and otherwise. He is a notary public, and, although not in practice as an attorney, is well read in real estate law.

Mr. McCreery is a member of the Legion of Honor, and a very active worker in its behalf. A great deal of his spare time is devoted to music. He is the composer of the opera "L'Afrique," which was produced at the Olympic in 1880 with great success. He was also at the head of the St. Louis Musical Union in connection with Mr. Waldauer, and for upwards of seventeen years he has been the musical director at Christ Church Cathedral, and he is also president of the St. Louis Glee Club. Mr. McCreery has always labored earnestly with a view of elevating the music of the city.

He married in the year 1875 Miss Mary Louisa Carr, daughter of Dabney Carr, and granddaughter of Judge Carr, so well known in East St. Louis. They have four children-Mary Louisa, Christine, Wayman and Andrew.
-From Old and new St. Louis

A first baseman for the Union Club, Wayman Crow McCreery is one of the more fascinating figures in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball. Besides his musical talents, which are mentioned in the biographical sketch from Old and new St. Louis, McCreery was also a national billiards champion. Augustus Thomas, in A Print of My Remembrance, wrote that McCreery was an outstanding athlete, stating that "(few) men are so physically and intellectually equipped as he was. There was nothing that an athlete could do with his body that in a notable degree Wayman McCreery could not do. He was a boxer, wrestler, fencer, runner, and swimmer, and all-round athlete. In addition to these he was a graceful dancer."

McCreery's background is fairly typical for a member of the Union Club. He was one of several members of the club to have attended Washington University, which was co-founded by his namesake, Wayman Crow. While it's been stated that the Union Club was organized by high school students, that appears to be rather anachronistic and many of the early members of the clubs were actually students at Washington University and St. Louis University.

McCreery, like many other club members, was also related to the prominent Laclede and Chouteau family of St. Louis. He was related to the family through his marriage to Mary Louise Carr. The Union Club had numerous members who where part of the Laclede/Chouteau family as well as the Lucas family. These two families were the largest landowners in St. Louis and were also the two wealthiest families. The fact that McCreery's daughter, Marie, was named the St. Louis Veiled Prophet Queen in 1896 speaks to his family's high social standing in the city.


Richard Hershberger said...

He is also, I suspect, a distant relative of mine by marriage. I take this from his marrying the daughter of "Dabney Carr". A Dabney Carr was the brother-in-law of Thomas Jefferson, and the given name "Dabney" continued in the family. This Dabney Carr is my direct ancestor, through my mother's line. I don't know of a branch of the family making its way to East St. Louis, but it seems likelier than the name popping up independantly.

Jeff Kittel said...

This Dabney Carr is the son of William C. Carr, who was a U.S. land agent for the Louisiana territory after 1804 and later appointed a federal judge. According to Primm, in Lion of the Valley, W.C. Carr was "a Virginian who had come to St. Louis in the early territorial days." He was a prominent citizen and a leader of the American faction of the city (along with J.B.C. Lucas). The intermarriage of the Carrs and the Chouteau/Laclede family helped to unify the American and Creole factions of the city. So your relatives were big wheels in StL during the early 19th century.

Interestingly, Carr Park, where the Morning Star club played, was located in Carr Square, a residential area created by W.C. Carr. The park, which if memory serves was created in the late 1830's, was named after him.

McCreery is a guy that I find rather fascinating. It seems to me that he led a full life and his biography makes for interesting reading. His opera was actually performed in New York but it got poor reviews and shut down after just a few performances.