Select McCormick Miscellany


Here are some McCormick stories
accounts over the years:


McCormicks from the Isle of Mull to Ireland

appearance of the surname in the 1500’s involves the
glens of County Antrim in Ireland and Moy Castle on the Scottish Isle
of Mull,
now a large uninhabited stone structure.  Sometime in the early
the McLean chieftain
of Lochbuie was evicted from Moy Castle by his cousin the McLean of
He was
said to have retreated to county Antrim across the sea in Ireland,
seeking to regain his castle.  The story
goes that twelve men at arms – all named McCormick – furnished a boat
helped him regain Moy Castle.To commemorate the help, the Scottish chieftain
had the following carved into the stone lintel over the doorway
entering Moy
Castle in Gaelic: Biadh is deoch do MhacGormai, which
loosely translates as “meat and drink for
McCormick” – i.e. McCormick is welcome here.It is uncertain how true this
story is.  But many McCormicks did
migrate from the bleak windswept Isle of Mull then or later to Antrim
and Derry in Ireland. 

The Later McCormick Emigration from Mull

crofter way of life on the Isle of
Mull was fundamentally altered in the 1850’s when the principal
landowner, the Duke of Argyll,
imposed a 100%
increase in rents where pasture was improved.
No compensation was given for houses vacated.
When permission was given for new houses to
be built, they only came with a “kailyard” of land.
It was ruled that if a man died and his widow
had a son less than 21 years of age, then they must vacate.

McCormick, a schoolmaster on Mull,
testified to the Napier Commission in 1883 as follows:

“By the year 1850, the old townships were
reduced to large farms.  The harsh and
cruel law of evictions formerly used has now given way to the more
modern and
refined mode of grinding away our subject by diminishing our means,
which will
eventually serve the purpose of bringing us into abject poverty.”

large number emigrated.  The population of
Mull was 5,200 in 1841, but
had fallen to 2,460 by 1871.  Many
departed in the 1850’s to Canada – such as Archibald and Mary McCormick
who settled
in Durham, Ontario.


McCormicks and McCormacks

is more common in Ireland, McCormack elsewhere.  The following
are the approximate numbers today.


Numbers (000’s) McCormick McCormack Total
Ireland    2    10    12
UK 13    12 25
America   20     6    26
Elsewhere   10    10    20
Total   45    38    83


Feedback – American Descendants of Captain James McCormick

I was
born a McCormick – I believe we came to the US after the seize of Derry
in the
late 1600’s and were active in the American Revolution
and beyond.  I am descended from Hugh and
Thomas McCormick.  I believe my ancestry
traces from Captain James McCormick who was at the seize of Derry.  I was wondering if you have linked these
names or other DNA information to the records.

Terri McCormick Dawson (


The McCormick Farm
on Walnut Grove

and Martha McCormick moved to Walnut Grove in the Shenandoah valley in
1779.  Their son Robert was born a
year later and their grandson Cyrus in 1809.
Norris’s History of the Lower
Shenandoah Valley
recounted the following about the McCormicks:

early members of the McCormick
family in Virginia were singularly unobtrusive people, content in the
derived from their own family relations, being extremely clannish.  Both the men and women of the family were
without guile, strictly honorable, affectionate, domestic and courteous.  One of their marked characteristics was their
great regard for the truth.”

The family farm at Walnut Grove was
located on 530 acres near Steele’s Tavern in Virginia.
It was there that Cyrus McCormick improved and
patented the mechanical reaper which eventually led to the creation of
combine harvester.

The eight farm buildings include a grist mill, blacksmith
shop, slave quarters, carriage house, manor house, smoke house,
schoolroom, and
housekeeper’s quarters.  Each of these
different buildings played a specific role in the daily routine of the

The grist mill, built prior to 1800, was used to grind wheat
for flour;
blacksmith shop to build and repair all the farm implements and it was
Cyrus McCormick engineered his reaper; the slave quarters served as the
for the nine slaves of the farm; while the carriage house was used as a
for the carriages and other wheeled vehicles.
The manor house was built of brick in 1822. Behind
it was the smoke house where meat was
dried and smoked to preserve it through the winter. Refrigeration was
introduced until the late 19th century. The McCormick family also
maintained a
school on their property for neighboring children.

The farm remained in the
McCormick family up to 1954.
  It is now a museum, having been declared a National
Historic Landmark in 1964.


Cyrus McCormick and the

whole idea was silly.  Some “new
fangled” machine to cut
wheat?  When folks around Carlisle,
Pennsylvania learned that there was going to be deonstration of a
mechanical reaper to harvest a field of wheat, they were astonished.  Surely
nothing could replace a team of
hard-working men with grain cradles!

on a warm, sunny summer day in 1840, a crowd of between 500 and 1,000
gathered at his farm, saw that, indeed, the grain was ripe and they
the machinery as they prepared to witness the spectacle.  A
horse and rider drew the equipment into the
field followed by a man who was to rake up the wheat as it was cut.

The contraption clattered and rattled as it
began to cut the wheat and the rake man had some trouble keeping up,
began to cause difficulties with the machine.  The
people hooted, jeered, and laughed. They
knew it wouldn’t work!

But then a
man stepped forward from the group and showed everyone the proper way
to work
with the harvester.  He was Cyrus
McCormick, the inventor of the machine called “McCormick’s Reaper.”  The fool thing worked after all!  The
dubious Scots-Irish farmers were suitably


The McCormick Family

Robert Hall McCormick (1780-1846) of Walnut Grove, Virginia

– Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884), inventor and patenter of the
– Cyrus McCormick II (1859-1936), the eldest son and heir
– Harold McCormick (1872-1941), whose later life was an
inspiration for the film Citizen
  (his second wife Ganna was an opera
singer whose career he financed)
– Stanley McCormick (1874-1947), who suffered from schizophrenia

– William McCormick (1815-1865), the brother who stayed at
Walnut Grove
– Robert McCormick (1849-1919), an American ambassador
– Joseph McCormick (1877-1925), Illinois Senator
(his wife Ruth was active in
women’s suffrage and later elected to Congress)
– Robert McCormick (1880-1955) the Colonel,
publisher of the Chicago Tribune
– William McCormick (b. 1851), Chicago businessman
– Chauncey McCormick (1884-1954), President of
International Harvester

– Leander McCormick (1819-1900), the brother who came to
Chicago with Cyrus
– R. Hall McCormick (1847-1917), head of the McCormick Estate in
– Elizabeth Day McCormick, known for her textile and
costume collections
– Robert Hall McCormick III, head of the McCormick
– Henrietta McCoormick Goodhart (1857-1932), the American
heiress who married an English aristocrat
– L. Hamilton McCormick (1859-1934), art collector


Peter McCormick and Advance
Australia Fair

McCormick claimed he wrote the words and music for Advance Australia Fair after attending a
concert which featured many national anthems, but none for Australia.  Its original opening line was:
“Australia’s sons, let us rejoice.”

It was premiered at the St Andrew’s Day
concert of the Highland Society in 1878.
More significantly, it was sung at the inauguration of the
of Australia by a choir of ten thousand, with the words modified
slightly to
include “our youthful Commonwealth.”  In
1907 the Government awarded McCormick a
hundred pounds for his patriotic composition.

It was not until 1974 that it was proclaimed the national anthem
by the
Whitlam government.  After the Fraser
government’s decision to restore God Save
the Queen
as the anthem, the Governor-General finally proclaimed it
as the
national anthem in 1984.

The Colonel at the Chicago

McCormick had taken over the Chicago
in the 1920’s and he ran it as his personal fiefdom until
his death
in 1955.  A conservative Republican, he
was an opponent of President Roosevelt and compared the New Deal to
Communism.  Later he opposed US entry into
World War

He ran crusades over the years against
gangsters and racketeers, prohibition and prohibitionists, Wall Street,
East and Easterners, Democrats, the League of Nations and the United
Nations, and
British imperialism. Some of his
personal crusades were seen as quixotic, such as his attempts to reform
spelling of the English language, and were parodied by political

The New
York Times

“He did consider himself an aristocrat.
imposing stature (6 feet 4 inches tall, with a muscular body weighing
over 200
pounds), his erect soldierly bearing, his reserved manner and his
appearance all made it easy for him to play that role.
But if he was one, he was according to his
friends one in the best sense of the word – despising the idle rich and
no use for parasites, dilettantes or mere pleasure-seekers.
With an extraordinary capacity for hard work,
he often put in seven long days a week at his job even when elderly,
fit through polo and later horseback riding.
In his seventies, he could still get into the war uniform of his


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