Historic Wigwam Razed

July 17, 2013 at 9:41 PM


Demolition of the Wigwam

       A piece of DuBois’ history fell to a wrecking crew on July 17, when the Wigwam, the home of Major Israel McCreight, located on Wigwam Drive, DuBois was razed.

      The Wigwam was built in 1906 by McCreight, one of DuBois’ most prominent citizens, and served as a summer home and farm. The building was in bad condition and had recently been listed as a dangerous structure.

      At the Wigwam the Major and his wife hosted many famous people of their time including William Cody better known as Buffalo Bill and many Indians including Sitting Bull, Flying Hawk, Red Cloud, and Iron Tail. The Indians respected McCreight to such an extent that he was made a chief of the Sioux during one of the visits of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to DuBois.

      The Wigwam once housed one of the largest collections of Indian items in the eastern United States. The collection was broken up and is now in several museums including the Smithsonian and in private collections in the U.S. and Canada.


The Wigwam in its early years.


The Wigwam in 2011.

       Israel McCreight, who died in 1958, was never in the military. Major was a nickname given him by his relatives while growing up in Reynoldsville where he was born in 1865. He graduated from Eastman Business School in Poughkeepsie, N. Y. As a young adult he went to Dakota Territory just as the west was closing. While there he worked for robber baron James Hill and was involved with the buffalo bone trade with the Indians. This interaction led him to a lifelong admiration of Native Americans.

       Returning home in 1888, just prior DuBois’ Great Fire, he married Alice Humphrey of Reynoldsville and got into the banking business in the growing town of DuBois. McCreight remained with Deposit Bank in several capacities, including chairman of the board, until 1940 and was a stockholder all of his life. His devotion to DuBois ran deep. He was involved in successful efforts bringing both the railroads and mining to the area. He was also a conservationist. McCreight’s name is found on the plaque at the Memorial Fountain at the start of the Forest Cathedral Trail in Cook Forest. The plaque lists those who sought to preserve that land for future generations.

       A monument to his legacy is the Deposit Bank building in DuBois, now occupied by First Commonwealth, which purchased the original bank. When it was built, the building was an object of amusement among those who could not see the need for so large a building.



The interior of the house in its prime (above) displaying part of the Indian collection and below in 2011.

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