Isaac Newton “I. N.” McCrary, businessman, merchant, city councilman, and twenty-fifth mayor of the city of Fort Worth, was born in Calvert, Texas, on May 31, 1886. He was the son of Charles Roach McCrary and Emma A. (Dodson) McCrary. McCrary was the fifth of nine siblings—four girls and five boys. He grew up in Calvert and graduated from Calvert High School.
After graduation he earned an appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and began classes in 1905. Later that year, McCrary accused an upper class-midshipman from a well-known family of hazing. In March 1906 McCrary was dropped from the Naval Academy but was reinstated later in the year and attended the academy until his resignation in 1908, reportedly because of the death of his father. Other than his time at the Naval Academy, he did not serve in the military.
After his studies at the Naval Academy, McCrary moved back to Texas and lived in Big Spring, where he worked as an investment broker. He married Nell Dixie Connell, the daughter of banker W. E. Connell, on June 17, 1908, in Fort Worth. The couple soon relocated to Fort Worth, where they had two sons—Jack Newton McCrary and Giles Connell McCrary.
After McCrary moved to Fort Worth, he engaged in a variety of business interests. While pursuing these interests and raising his family, he also was involved in many social and religious organizations. He was a member of the Broadway Baptist Church, the Fort Worth Club, the Exchange Club, the Lions Club, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Moslah Temple of the Shrine (a Shriner fraternal organization), and the Goodfellows club. He was a noted “sing song” leader which led to his involvement in a series of pop-up concerts with the Texas Christian University Jazz Band in several Fort Worth elementary schools. These concerts, sponsored by the Goodfellows, raised money to pay for the donation of two buffaloes to the Fort Worth Zoo. He also conducted “sing songs” with the Shriners’ band for the local Old Mason’s home. Despite the philanthropic nature of his song leading, McCrary also performed in minstrel shows—popular entertainment that depicted racial stereotypes of African Americans.
McCrary’s business ventures were as varied as his social activities. In 1909 he established the McCrary-McDonald Cypress Company, a wholesale cypress lumber and shingle firm, which he owned in partnership with G. J. McDonald. In 1910 he purchased a half interest in W. M. Hoover Trunk Co. a mercantile company that sold trunks; the business became Hoover-McCrary Trunk Co. By 1918 he had invested in cattle. He sold real estate in Fort Worth and invested in the oil industry by becoming a trustee and president of the Desdemona-Hog Creek Oil Company in 1919. As a well-known businessman in Fort Worth during the World War I, McCreary was a member of a group of speakers called the “Four Minute Men,” who helped sell Liberty Bonds by speaking to patrons at movie theaters during intermissions and between movies.
McCrary’s connections to the movie industry survived the war, and in late 1920 he and a partner leased a building to open a movie theater called the Rialto in downtown Fort Worth. They began renovations in 1921. That same year, McCrary purchased the entire stock of tires and inner-tubes from the bankrupt Southland Tire & Rubber Company and opened McCrary Tire Co. in Fort Worth. He and his father-in-law—W.E. Connell, president of the First National Bank—opened a distributorship for the Corona Tire Company. The company was later called the McCrary Rubber Company. McCrary also owned a mortgage company, the McCrary Mortgage Company, and was an incorporator of the Construction Finance Corporation.
McCrary did not confine his activities to his multiple business ventures and began his involvement in politics in 1920. In the Democratic primary that same year, McCrary, a Democrat, helped organize a train trip from Fort Worth to Waco to attend a rally in favor of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joseph Weldon Bailey. He was a public supporter of Democrat W. D. “Bill” Davis for Fort Worth mayor in 1921. The next year, McCrary considered running for State Representative Place No. 3 in the Democratic primary but, withdrew his candidacy before the primary election. He served as a member and foreman of the Tarrant County grand jury and as secretary of the City-County Hospital Board.
McCrary’s flirtation with politics led to his appointment to fill the vacancy of Place No. 3 on the Fort Worth city council in December 1938. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of Ward B. Powell, who gained the seat through a recall effort and later resigned because of poor health. In the April 5, 1939, city-wide general elections, McCrary was re-elected to the council and defeated Jack Carter by a margin of 7,852 to 3,342.
In July 1940 the city council elected McCrary mayor of Fort Worth after the resignation of Mayor T. J. Harrell. McCrary’s election resulted from several councilmen changing their votes after their preferred candidates did not achieve a majority. In the April 8, 1941, city-wide general election, eight of the nine city councilmen, including McCrary, were re-elected without opposition. The council re-elected McCrary as mayor.
As mayor, McCrary testified before U. S. Congress about the benefits of proposed improvements to the Trinity River, namely, dredging from the Gulf of Mexico to Fort Worth, which would essentially make the river basin a canal. He also lobbied for the construction of an airport midway between Dallas and Fort Worth. In 1943, at the urging of Amon G. Carter, Sr., McCrary joined the Fort Worth Chapter of the National Aeronautical Association to promote the aeronautical industry in the city. That same year, he petitioned the U. S. Secretary of Commerce to decide the issue of which direction the terminal of the proposed Midway Airport would face. The new airport, sponsored by the city of Arlington, was a point of contention between Fort Worth and Dallas. Dallas wanted the administration building and terminal on the north side of the airfield while Fort Worth wanted it on the west side. The representatives of the city of Dallas threatened to pull out of the airport project altogether if the terminal was not placed where they wanted it. The Civil Aeronautics Administration put the decision on hold until after the war.
In the first city-wide election of the World War II in April 1943, McCrary ran unopposed and won reelection. He received 716 votes out of 724 ballots cast. The council re-elected McCrary as mayor. In the 1945 city-wide general election, the Tarrant County Taxpayers League planned to run a slate of candidates. Ultimately, Defrank Howell ran against McCrary under the banner of the Citizens’ Committee, an organization made up of five local groups, including the Taxpayers League and a newly-formed Tarrant County Democratic Party. The incumbents on the city council were all re-elected, with McCrary defeating Howell 6,564 to 4,519. Despite his victory for the council seat, McCrary did not continue as mayor. He reportedly suggested a change in executive leadership before the election, and the council unanimously elected Roscoe L. Carnrike. After McCrary’s retirement as mayor, the city council honored him with a resolution lauding his service to the city. In the 1947 municipal elections, he was challenged for Place No. 3 by Jack Cobb, an independent. McCrary handily defeated Cobb by a vote of 2,536 to 1,437.
The 1947 municipal elections proved to be McCrary’s last. On December 18, 1948, he suffered a heart attack at his home in Fort Worth. Long-term high blood pressure and diabetes contributed to his illness. After spending almost two weeks at All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, he died on January 1, 1949. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Fort Worth.