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John McClurg

President of James McClurg & Company, cracker bakers & confectioners (the factory is now the D.L. Clark Co. Bldg.)

John McClurg came to America from County Down, Ireland sometime in the 1850s. He attended the public schools of Allegheny City. When he finished his schooling he aspired to be a business man, first on his own and then working for Robert Getty on Ohio Street. In 1867 he again went into business for himself but soon started working for his father in law, also named McClurg, at James McClurg and Company Cracker Bakers and Confectioners. Upon the death of James in 1890, John purchased the interests of other shareholders and became head of the corporation. He entered into finance in 1902 when he became a charter stockholder of the Cosmopolitan National Bank. 19th and early 20th century American banks, especially smaller local banks such as the Cosmopolitan, were vulnerable to the fluctuations of their local economies. There had been many panics and failures during the Civil War era and more would occur, leading up to the Great Depression of 1929. Pittsburgh had weathered a major depression starting in 1893 and, while things had improved, many local banks were still on shaky ground when McClurg became president of the Cosmopolitan Bank in 1904. He became known for the seriousness with which he shouldered the responsibilities of his position.

McClurg suffered a severe bout of tuberculosis in 1908 that left him housebound and unable to maintain the intense schedule he had set for himself at The Cosmopolitan Bank. Several months into his illness, an investigation by the comptroller of currency led to the bank being closed. McClurg’s family, friends and business associates worked together to ensure that news of the bank’s foreclosure would not reach him. On September 8, 1908, The Pittsburgh Press reported that, “not the slightest whisper has reached him, thanks to the loving consideration of his business associates and the jealous, watchful care of the members of his family.” McClurg died 20 days later. He was survived by his wife and his daughter, Mrs. Charles F. Kirschler, wife of Allegheny City’s last mayor. The Cosmopolitan Bank eventually underwent a voluntary liquidation, merging with the Monongahela National Bank.


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