Joseph McCreary, son of Joseph McCreary and Mary Boggs, was born in the Cedar Springs neighborhood, Abbeville County, SC, on May 3, 1812. He attended school in Abbeville, SC, but while yet a youth became very desirous of a higher education. He therefore joined a body of emigrants and walked the distance through to Oxford, Ohio, (390 miles) lending help to the drivers when necessary. To pay his expenses through school, he gave up his interest in his father’s estate to his brother. In the University, his fellow students nicknamed him the “Philosopher of the School.” He graduated in 1834.
He joined the A.R. Church at Cedar Springs previous to his entering the university, and immediately after graduating he went from Oxford to Allegheny, PA, and entered the Associate Reformed Seminary. He was licensed by the Second Presbytery in 1836. He missionated in company with Rev. J.C. Chalmers in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and some in Indiana. In the fall of 1839, he was called to the pastorate of the congregation in Wilcox County, AL, now known as Bethel, and was installed over that church in 1840, where he was a faithful shepherd till his death.
Mr. McCreary was one of the victims of the ill-fated “Lucy Walker,” which blew up on the Ohio River, on October 23, 1844. He and other brethren returning from a meeting of Synod in Kentucky took passage on this steamboat. The explosion of her boilers wrecked the boat and killed and injured a number of her passengers. He lived for two days after the explosion – dying on October 25, 1844. His last words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit.” He is buried in New Albany, Indiana.
Centennial History, page 215