John W Crosby


JOHN W. CROSBY, of Leechburg, gas contractor and producer, is prominently connected with an industry which has had considerable influence in the prosperity of the borough. He has made his home there since 1886, and has been engaged in the gas business continuously.

Mr. Crosby is a native of Canada, born Oct. 8, 1858, about forty miles from Montreal, on the Ottawa river. John W. Crosby, his grandfather, was a native of Ireland, and on coming to America first settled in Philadelphia, Pa. Later he removed to Canada, where he became a large landowner and at one time also owned a line of stage coaches and a hotel. He was a pioneer in the region in which he settled, and he remained there to the end of his days, dying at the age of sixty-five years. His children were: James, Maria, Elizabeth, Sarah A., Jane and John W.

James Crosby, son of John W. Crosby, was born in Canada, and remained with his father, being in his employ. He died in 1865, at the age of about forty. His wife, Elizabeth (Harris), died in December, 1908, at the age of seventy-two years. Their six children were: Sarah Ann, Henrietta, John W., James (who was killed in Canada), Emma Jane, and one daughter that died in infancy.

John W. Crosby attended school in Canada until he was about sixteen years old. He then did farm work for a few years, and afterward clerked in a country store in Canada until 1876, when he started out for Pennsylvania. He arrived at Franklin on June 16th, and being out of money continued his journey on foot, walking to Edinburg, a distance of twenty-five miles. There his mother's brother, Thomas Harris, was engaged in the oil business, and he worked for him two years. At the end of that period he started in the oil business on his own account, at Mecca, in Trumbull county, Ohio, where he remained for one winter, next going to the Bradford (Pa.) oil fields. He was employed there drilling wells. In the fall of 1883 he joined a party of eight persons going out to California, being interested in a company that had a dry washer. They went into the mountains, but the rainy season coming on four became discouraged and turned back. For two months Mr. Crosby and another man were out by themselves, depending for food upon the game they shot, but they eventually returned to Los Angeles, where Mr. Crosby found himself stranded. Returning to Bradford, Pa., in the spring of 1884, he again went to work with his uncle for a time. He then started in business as an oil well contractor, his first well being drilled for the McCalmont Oil Company, of Pittsburgh. About this time the gas excitement was beginning to be felt in and around Pittsburgh, and the Philadelphia Gas Company was organized. Mr. Crosby began to take contracts to drive wells for them, the first one being at Tarentum, Pa. Two years later, on Oct. 1, 1886, he located at the borough of Leechburg, where he has since resided. He has been in the gas and oil business throughout this period, and has drilled about two hundred gas wells, including some of the largest in this region, comprising Armstrong, Westmoreland, Indiana Allegheny, Somerset, Cambria and Clearfield counties. He also drilled an oil well in Greene county for the Standard Oil Company. In 1895 Mr. Crosby organized the Hyde Park Gas Company, owning one quarter of its stock, and six years later, when they sold out to the American Gas Company, they received forty thousand dollars for their stock, although the company was organized with a capital of only twenty-five hundred. He is vice president and general manager of the Gilpin Natural Gas Company of Leechburg, which has several wells in Armstrong county, selling gas to supply the Pittsburgh Shovel Works and the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company's plant, both of which are located in Leechburg; and he is a director and manager of the Acme Natural Gas Company of Leechburg. On Sept. 27, 1911, he struck a fine well at West Leechburg, which is now being operated by the Crosby Gas Company. Few if any men in the gas business have had more experience in that line than Mr. Crosby, and he has been remarkably successful. His success is due as much to his good judgment and shrewd management as to other causes, and he has the confidence of all who have been associated with him. He is a director of the Mary Mining Company, which has offices in Pittsburgh and owns valuable ore property in Mexico. In 1887 Mr. Crosby was one of the organizers of the Grobheiser and Crosby Furniture Company, of Sturgis, Mich., and served as vice president of that concern. He sold out his holdings in this company in 1892. It is one of the largest table manufacturing establishments in the United States. Mr. Crosby is justly considered one of the influential business men of the borough in which he has so long made his home, and his enterprise and progressive disposition have been material factors in its growth and advancement.

On Aug. 15, 1886, Mr. Crosby was married to Mary M. McGeary, daughter of R. D. McGeary, of Tarentum, Pa. They have one son, Frank H. In politics Mr. Crosby is independent. He is a member of the Episcopal Church and socially is connected with the local lodge of Elks.

Source: Pages 798-799, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed October 1998 by James R Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

Armstrong County Genealogy Project Notice:
These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the Beers Project


Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project

(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project


Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project

(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project