Big Shoes and a Big Hat. Some people leave behind big shoes to fill. Their accomplishments and their influence go beyond our local community. We have a saying here, “No matter where you go, you’ll meet someone from DuBois.”
John DuBois. The city is named for John DuBois who settled here in 1871, bringing with him a lifetime of experience in the lumber business. In addition to building the lumber mill, he built several other factories, invented equipment and methods to streamline production and improved worker safety. His mechanical inventions were adopted by other industries in the country. Mr. DuBois was known for his honesty, integrity and fairness. Through the Depression of 1893-1898, he kept his employees working and paid them with company scrip backed by gold when inflation caused the U.S. dollar to be nearly worthless. In 1938, his nephew, John E. DuBois, donated the mansion and estate as a permanent home for the DuBois Campus of Penn State University.
Civil War. You may not expect a connection to the Civil War in Northwestern Pennsylvania, but the war did have an impact here. The woodsmen from our region used their hunting skills to become sharpshooters in the Pennsylvania Bucktail Regiment, also known as the 13th PA Reserves, Kane’s Rifle Regiment, 1st PA Rifles, and the 42nd PA Voluntary Infantry. Union Army troops came to Knox to arrest Civil War deserters and draft dodgers in an incident that became known as Bloody Knox.
Wigwams in DuBois? At the age of 20, Major Israel McCreight headed West, riding the train to the railroad’s end in the North Dakota Territories. He worked as a bookkeeper and forged lifelong friendships with Native Americans. His friend Chief Flying Hawk fought in the Battle of Little Big Horn and his friend Chief Iron Tail’s portrait was featured on the Indian Head nickel. In 1908, Major McCreight was adopted into the Lakota Sioux tribe and given the name Chief Tchanta Tanka. Another friend, Buffalo Bill Cody, was also at the ceremony. Buffalo Bill brought his Wild West Show to DuBois a few times and always stopped by for a visit when he was passing through. Chiefs Flying Hawk and Iron Tail were regular visitors at Major McCreight’s summer home, the “Wigwam.” At times, the backyard was dotted with teepees from his many Native American friends. As a conservationist, Mr. McCreight helped to author President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great Conservation Policy. As a member of the Cook’s Forest Association, he preserved the last stand of “Penn’s Woods” and founded Cook Forest State Park—Pennsylvania’s first State Park.
Tom Mix. Born in Mix Run, Tom moved to DuBois when his father began working for John DuBois. Tom Mix headed West, worked as a ranch hand, and became a star of silent film, radio, and the circus. Tom Mix’s big ten-gallon Stetson hat and his horse, Tony, were almost as famous as Tom. Tom Mix movies created the Western movie genre and the legend of the cowboy. Westerns starring Gene Autry, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, were all influenced by Tom Mix.
Secret Agent Man. Floyd M. Boring grew up in DuBois and began his career as a Pennsylvania State Trooper before joining the Secret Service where he guarded five U. S. Presidents. On November 1, 1950, he stopped an attempt to assassinate President Harry S. Truman.