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.

Notable 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. Cyrus, 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 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.
    • 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, owners of 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 finders of James Joyce and also Carl Jung. They built a massive estate, Villa Turicum, in Lake Forest. 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.[3]
    • 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 (1906)
    • Mathilde McCormick (1905–1947) (m. 1923) Max Oser (1877–1942)
    • Anita Oser Pauling (d. 2009 in Paris, France) Peter Max Oser (d. 1970 in Geneva, Switzerland)
    • Stanley Robert McCormick (m. 1904) Katherine Dexter McCormick (1875–1967). Katherine, 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 Katherine while motoring through Pride's Crossing, Mass. He later became a recluse at Riven Rock, one of the great estates of Santa Barbara, the subject of which was turned into a novel by T.C. Boyle.
  • William Sanderson McCormick (1815–1865) Inventor and 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 Civil War.
    • Joseph Medill McCormick "Medill" (1877–1925) married Ruth Hanna. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention 1916 1920, member of the Illinois Legislature, U.S. Representative from Illinois 1917–1919, U.S. Senator from Illinois 1919–1925. .[6] Ruth was a Republican National Committeewoman 1924-1928, U.S. Representative from Illinois 1929–1931, candidate for U.S. Senate from Illinois 1930. Wife of Joseph McCormick.[7] She maintained a large farm in Byron, IL. Ruth Hanna McCormick was also daughter of U.S. Senator Mark Hanna and Charlotte Augusta Rhodes[8] and later wife of U.S. Representative Albert G. Simms[9] after J. 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 1912 1940 1948 1952. He married twice and died childless. He considered his favorite niece, Ruth "Bazy" McCormick, to be his heir.[10] 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 1903 was first cousin of J. Medill McCormick and Robert Rutherford McCormick through the Medill family.
    • Chauncey Brooks McCormick (1884–1954), president of International Harvester. Married Marion Deering, heiress of the Deering Machine Company fortune that had merged with McCormick to form International Harvester. They owned Villa Vizcaya in Miami.
    • Anna Reubina McCormick (b. 1860) m. Edward T. Blair, hardware tycoon, and commissioned McKim, Meade, & White to build what is one of the last standing homes on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.
    • Lucy McCormick Linn Well known Chicago socialite
    • William McCormick Blair, Sr. (1884–1982) Founder of William Blair & Co. Married Helen Hadduck Bowen, daughter of Joseph Tilton Bowen and Lousie deKoven
  • Leander J. McCormick (1819–1900), inventor and founder of McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, he owned vast tracts of land in downtown Chicago and Lake Forest, IL. 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 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, 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 of 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 daughter and granddaughter of founders of law firm Lord Day & Lord.
    • Elizabeth Day McCormick (d. 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 Head of the McCormick Estate, Chicago Alderman for 21st Ward, and worked as a secretary to the Brazilian Ambassador in Rio de Janeiro. Welcomed Marconi to the US in 1914. Maintained Roman style sailing ship, the San Marco in Venice, Italy, which was sunk by Nazis during WWII. He built the Appollo Theater and was Director of the Civic Opera after the death of Harold McCormick. Married Eleanor Russell Morris, descended from the Lords of the Manor of Morrisania, owners of the South Bronx and founders of New Jersey. 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, Frederick and Leander. 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]



External links[edit]