(Sept. 26, 1795-May 17, 1854). Born in Moorefield, Hardy County, Virginia (now West Virginia), Nicholas McCarty Sr. grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his family moved after the death of his father. As a young man, he moved to Newark, Ohio, where he worked in a store for one of the state’s leading merchants. With savings from this job, the 28-year-old McCarty moved to Indianapolis in the fall of 1823 to establish one of the city’s first and most successful general stores.

McCarty located his business on the southwest corner of Washington and Pennsylvania streets, an area that became known over the years as “McCarty’s Corner.” A success in Indianapolis, McCarty also opened branch stores in Covington, Cumberland, Greenfield, La Porte, and Waverly.

Along with his stores, McCarty was involved with numerous real estate transactions; produced and distributed ginseng, hemp, and silk; and built the city’s first steam flour mill in partnership with James M. Ray and James Blake. He also was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Orphans Home.

From 1832 to 1836, McCarty served as Canal Fund commissioner for the state. He resigned from the post following the 1836 passage of Indiana’s Mammoth Internal Improvements Act—legislation he predicted would hurt the state financially. In 1847, McCarty, who supported the Whig party for most of his life, was nominated by that party to run for Congress. Although unsuccessful in his first try for public office, he managed to win election to the Indiana Senate in 1849. He also served as an Indianapolis city councilman from 1853 to 1854.

McCarty resigned from his Senate seat in 1852 after being nominated at the Whig party’s state convention to run as its gubernatorial candidate. In the general election, McCarty was defeated by incumbent Democratic Governor Joseph A. Wright by approximately 10,000 votes. McCarty is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Revised February 2021

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