McCormick family

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The McCormick family of Chicago and Virginia is an American family of Scots-Irish descent that attained prominence and fortune starting with the invention of the McCormick Reaper a machine that revolutionized agriculture, helped break the bonds of slavery, and established the modern grain trade by beginning the mechanization of the harvesting of grain. Through the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and later, the International Harvester Company and other investments, the McCormicks became one of the wealthiest families in America. The name became ubiquitous in agriculture starting in the 19th century and the press dubbed the McCormicks the "Reaper Kings". Later generations expanded into media and publishing (Tribune Company), finance (William Blair & Company), and real estate (McCormick Estate). Various family members were well known as civic leaders. They are descended from an influential leader of modern agriculture, inventor Robert McCormick Jr. (1780–1846), and Mary Ann "Polly" Hall of Steeles Tavern, Virginia.

Family members[edit]

Three branches: (1) Cyrus-the McCormick Blaines and the Rockefeller McCormicks. (2) William-the Deering McCormicks, the Medill McCormicks, and the McCormick Blairs. (3) Leander-the Hall McCormicks, the McCormick-Goodharts, and the Hamilton McCormicks.

Robert McCormick Jr. (1780–1846) was an American inventor who lived in rural Virginia. In 1808 he married Mary Ann "Polly" Hall (1780–1853). They had five surviving children.

  • Cyrus Hall McCormick Sr. (1809–1884), m. Nancy Fowler McCormick (1835-1923). Entrepreneur, publisher, father of modern agriculture, and founder of what became the International Harvester Company. At a young age he improved and later patented his father's mechanical reaper. He and his brother and sisters moved to Chicago in 1847. He was a candidate for U.S. Representative from Illinois in 1862. A devout Presbyterian, he was the primary benefactor of the McCormick Theological Seminary.[1]
    • Cyrus Hall McCormick Jr. (1859–1936), head of International Harvester. A music lover, he brought Sergei Prokofiev to the United States. In 1923, he and his mother donated McCormick Hall to Princeton University. A member of the Jekyll Island Club, a founder of the Chicago Community Trust, and a financier of the World's Columbian Exposition. He had three children: Cyrus III (who wrote The Century of the Reaper),[2] Elizabeth (who died in infancy), and Gordon. He had no grandchildren.
    • Mary Virginia McCormick (1861-1941) never married or had any children. Her family had her declared mentally incompetent at the age of nineteen.[3]
    • Anita McCormick Blaine (1866-1954) founded the New World Foundation and also the Francis W. Parker School and the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago. Despite coming from a conservative Republican family, she embraced progressive movements, such as the United Nations and the suffragist movement. She was the grandmother of Nancy Blaine, wife of Gilbert A. Harrison; they owned The New Republic magazine.
    • Harold Fowler McCormick Sr. (1872–1941), m. (1895) Edith Rockefeller, youngest daughter of John Davison Rockefeller and Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman. Edith and Harold were the wealthiest couple in Chicago and were great patrons of the Civic Opera. They were major discoverers of James Joyce and Carl Jung. They built a massive estate, Villa Turicum, in Lake Forest, Illinois. Harold was a pioneer in aviation, running a number of successful flights, and donated the Harold F. McCormick Collection of Aeronautica at Princeton. His promotion of his wife's music career was partial inspiration for Charles Foster Kane in the movie Citizen Kane.[4]
      • John Rockefeller McCormick (1896–1901)
      • Editha McCormick (1897–1898)
      • Harold Fowler McCormick Jr. (1898–1973), m. (1931) Anne "Fifi" Potter (1879–1969).
      • Muriel McCormick (1902–1959), m. (1931) Elisha Dyer Hubbard (1878-1936).
      • Mathilde McCormick (1905–1947), m. (1923) Max Oser (1877–1942).
        • Anita Oser Pauling (d. 2009 in Paris, France) m. Peter Max Oser (d. 1970 in Geneva, Switzerland).
  • Stanley Robert McCormick (1874-1947), m. (1904) Katharine Dexter McCormick (1875–1967). Katharine, one of the earliest female graduates of MIT, was a suffragist, worked with Margaret Sanger and funded the invention of birth control using interest earned from International Harvester dividends. Stanley, a champion tennis player at Princeton, met Katharine while motoring through Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts. He later became a recluse at Riven Rock, one of the great estates of Santa Barbara, California, the subject of which was turned into a novel by T.C. Boyle.
  • William Sanderson McCormick (1815–1865), inventor and co-founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company (International Harvester). Third son of Robert Jr. and Polly. In support of his native Virginia, he was known for wearing a Confederate uniform well after the Civil War.
    • Robert Sanderson McCormick (1849–1919), U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary 1901–1902, U.S. Ambassador to Austria-Hungary 1902, U.S. Ambassador to Russia 1902–1905, U.S. Ambassador to France 1905–1907. He built the McCormick Villa in Washington, D.C., now the Brazilian Embassy. Robert Sanderson McCormick was also the son-in-law of Chicago Mayor Joseph Medill and Katherine Patrick.[5][6]
      • Joseph Medill McCormick "Medill" (1877–1925), married Ruth Hanna (1880-1944). He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1916 and 1920, member of the Illinois Legislature, U.S. Representative from Illinois 1917–1919, and U.S. Senator from Illinois 1919–1925.[7] Ruth was a Republican National Committeewoman 1924-1928, U.S. Representative from Illinois 1929–1931, and nominee for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 1930.[8] She maintained a large farm in Byron, Illinois. Ruth Hanna McCormick was also the daughter of U.S. Senator Mark Hanna and Charlotte Augusta Rhodes[9], and later wife of U.S. Representative Albert G. Simms[10] after Medill McCormick's death.
      • Robert Rutherford "Bertie" McCormick (1880–1955), famous publisher of the Chicago Tribune and patriarch of Chicago. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1912, 1940, 1948 and 1952. He married twice and died childless. He considered his favorite niece, Ruth "Bazy" McCormick, to be his heir.[11] Upon his death his estate became the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. McCormick Place is named for him as is the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University.[1] His estate, Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois, is now a museum. (Joseph Medill Patterson (1879–1946), Illinois State Representative in 1903, was first cousin of J. Medill McCormick and Robert Rutherford McCormick through the Medill family.)
  • William Grigsby McCormick (1851-1941), Chicago businessman. Founded Kappa Sigma Fraternity at the University of Virginia.
  • Anna Reubenia "Ruby" McCormick (1860-1917), m. Edward T. Blair (1857-1939), hardware tycoon, and commissioned McKim, Meade, & White to build what is one of the last standing homes on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.
    • William McCormick Blair Sr. (1884–1982), founder of William Blair & Co. (which specialized in financing homes in the Midwest). Married Helen Hadduck Bowen (1890-1972), daughter of Joseph Tilton Bowen and Louise deKoven.
    • Lucy McCormick Blair Linn (1886-1978), well-known Chicago socialite.
  • Leander J. McCormick (1819–1900). Inventor and co-founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, he owned vast tracts of land in downtown Chicago and Lake Forest, Illinois. In the 1880s, he donated the McCormick Observatory to the University of Virginia in an effort to help the South recover from the war. At the time it was the second largest telescope in the world and the largest in America. Upon his death, his vast real estate holdings became the Leander J. McCormick Estate. Leander married Henrietta Maria Hamilton (1822-1899) of Virginia, a direct descendant of the Dukes of Hamilton of Scotland, heirs to the Scottish throne.
    • Robert Hall McCormick II (1847–1917), m. Sarah Lord Day (1850-1922). Head of the McCormick Estate, he built the McCormick Building and Roanoke building in downtown Chicago, among others. His chief interests were horses, yachting, and art. He owned one of the finest collections of British master paintings in the United States. With Bertha Palmer he exhibited some of his paintings at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and was a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago. He owned two steam yachts: the Rapidan, which was wrecked in Delaware, and the Satilla, named after a river near the Jekyll Island Club and which became a naval ship during World War II. Sarah was the daughter and granddaughter of founders of the law firm Lord Day & Lord.
      • Elizabeth Day McCormick (1873-1957) owned one of the finest and most complete textile and costume collections, now the Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. To the University of Chicago she donated two very important early Greek texts, the Rockefeller-McCormick Manuscript, in memory of her cousin and fellow collector, Edith Rockefeller McCormick, and later the Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse.
      • Robert Hall McCormick III (1878-1963). Head of the McCormick Estate and Alderman for Chicago's 21st Ward, and worked as a secretary to the Brazilian Ambassador in Rio de Janeiro. Welcomed Guglielmo Marconi to the U.S. in 1914. Maintained a Roman-style sailing ship, the San Marco, in Venice, Italy, which was sunk by the Nazis during World War II. He built the Apollo Theater and was director of the Civic Opera after the death of Harold McCormick. He married Eleanor Russell Morris (1881-1970), descended from the Lords of the Manor of Morrisania, owners of the South Bronx and founders of New Jersey. Her ancestors include Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Gouverneur Morris, the penman of the U.S. Constitution.[citation needed]
    • Henrietta Laura McCormick-Goodhart (1857–1932). One of the first American heiresses to marry an English aristocrat, she lived in England and, later, at her estate, Langley Park in Maryland. By order of Queen Victoria, her last name was officially changed to encompass her husband's name, Goodhart. She had two sons, Leander and Frederick. Leander was a main figure at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
    • Leander Hamilton McCormick (1859–1934), art collector and inventor. He is credited with the creation of the study of characterology. He had three sons: Leander James McCormick II, Edward Hamilton McCormick, and Alister Hamilton McCormick (1891–1921). Alister married Joan Tyndale Stevens, a niece of Charles Morton Astley, Lord Hastings. Leander II married the Comtesse de Fontarce et Flueries.[citation needed]


The McCormicks are remembered through their philanthropy and projects named in their honor, including:


  • Walnut Grove, Raphine, Va.
  • Villa Turicum, Lake Forest, Ill.
  • Walden, Lake Forest, Ill.
  • House-in-the-Woods, Lake Forest, Ill.
  • Cantigny, Wheaton, Ill.
  • Langley Hall, Langley Park, Md.
  • Villa Vizcaya, Miami, Fla.
  • Crabtree Farm, Lake Forest, Ill.
  • Castle Hill (Virginia), Keswick, Va.
  • Clayton Lodge, Richfield Springs, N.Y.
  • Kildare, Huntsville, Ala.
  • St. James Farm, Wheaton, Ill.
  • Lotusland, Montecito, Calif.
  • Eastpoint, Seal Harbor, Maine
  • Stanwood, Bar Harbor, Maine
  • McCormick Farm, Steger, Ill.
  • Mizzentop, Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Burnmouth, Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Gordon Hall, Dexter, Mich.
  • Riven Rock, Santa Barbera, Calif.
  • McCormick Apartments, (Andrew Mellon Building), Washington, D.C.
  • McCormick Villa, 3000 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, D.C. (Embassy of Brazil)
  • 675 Rush St, Chicago
  • 660 Rush St, Chicago
  • 1000 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
  • 101 East Erie St, Chicago
  • 50 East Huron St, Chicago
  • 100 East Ontario St, Chicago (Lawry's Prime Rib)
  • Cable-McCormick mansion, 25 East Erie St., Chicago
  • Patterson-McCormick mansion, Astor St., Chicago
  • McCormick Ranch, Scottsdale, Ariz.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Mccormic to Mccormick
  2. ^ McCormick 1931.
  3. ^ [1] Mary Virginia McCormick Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Meaghan to Meek
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Patterson
  7. ^ McCORMICK, Joseph Medill - Biographical Information
  8. ^ McCORMICK, Ruth Hanna - Biographical Information
  9. ^ HANNA, Marcus Alonzo (Mark) - Biographical Information
  10. ^ SIMMS, Albert Gallatin - Biographical Information
  11. ^ Bernstein, Adam (2013-02-06). "Ruth Tankersley, Tribune scion, D.C. publisher and Arabian horse breeder, dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  12. ^ 'Hope Baldwin Mccormick, Civic Leader,' Chicago Tribune, Kenan Heise, July 15, 1993


External links[edit]