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Edith McCormick (Rockefeller)

Birthdate: (59)
Birthplace: Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States
Death: August 25, 1932 (59)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and Laura Celestia "Cettie" Rockefeller (Spelman)
Wife of Harold Fowler McCormick
Mother of John Rockefeller McCormick; Harold Fowler McCormick, Jr.; Muriel Hubbard; Editha McCormick and Mathilde McCormick
Sister of Elizabeth Strong; Alice Rockefeller; Alta Prentice and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Managed by: Private User
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About Edith McCormick

THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. p. 587

Edith Rockefeller McCormick (August 31, 1872 – August 25, 1932) was an American socialite and opera patron.


McCormick was the fourth daughter of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937) and his wife Laura Spelman Rockefeller ("Cettie") (1839–1915). Her famous younger brother was John D. Rockefeller, Jr. McCormick and her father had an often stormy relationship, where her extravagance would often conflict with his known frugality.

She married Harold Fowler McCormick, a son of Chicago's mechanical reaper inventor Cyrus McCormick, in 1895. The married couple spent their first two years living in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They later moved to Chicago. Her country retreat, located directly on Lake Michigan in Lake Forest, Illinois, named Villa Turicum, was famous for its ostentatious scale, and extensive gardens.

A famous story about McCormick involves an evening in 1901 during a party. News arrived that McCormick's son, John Rockefeller McCormick, had died of scarlet fever. It was rumored that when this was whispered to her at the dinner table, she proceeded to merely nod her head and allowed the party to continue without incident. A biographer of her father, however, makes it clear that this could not have been true. At the time of her son's death, Edith was with him at the family estate, Kykuit, at Pocantico Hills, New York. A year later, she and her husband established the John McCormick Institution of Infectious Diseases in Chicago, a source of funding for the researchers who later isolated the bacterium responsible for the disease.

In 1913 she travelled to Zurich to be treated for depression by Carl Gustav Jung and contributed generously to the Zürich Psychological Society. In 1919 McCormick donated land she had received from her father as a wedding gift to the Forest Preserve of Cook County, to be developed as a zoological garden, later to become Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. She returned to America in 1921 after an 8 year stay.

She and Harold Fowler McCormick were divorced in December, 1921. A year later, Harold was given custody of 17 year old Mathilde, so that she could marry Max Oser, a 47-year-old Swiss riding instructor. Mathilde and Max were married in London in April, 1923. Meanwhile, Harold married Ganna Walska, a famous Polish opera singer in August, 1922. Within days of Harold's remarriage, Edith announced plans to marry Edward Krenn, a 28 year old Austrian architect. The plan fell through for undisclosed reasons in December, 1922. In 1927, she was mentioned in a newspaper article about Chicago's wealthy unmarried, divorced, and widowed wealthy women. The article noted that she was "glad to be rid of the gay Harold McCormick, but hasn't succeeded in convincing her friends she will never marry again." ." Over the next few years, Edith and Harold frequently found themselves in court in lawsuits over the divorce agreement.

In February, 1923 she received some minor press for claiming to be the reincarnation of the wife of King Tutankhamen, whose tomb had just been explored and was a popular topic. She was quoted as saying, "I married King Tutankhamen when I was only sixteen years old. I was his first wife. Only the other day, while glancing through an illustrated paper, I saw a picture of a chair removed from the King's chamber. Like a flash I recognized that chair. I had sat in it many times." She followed up in Time magazine by stating "My interest in reincarnation is of many years' standing." She was also said to be interested in astrology and to celebrate Christmas on December 15.

In 1925, she and other wealthy Chicago women including Miss Helen M. Bennett, Mrs. John V. Farwell, Mrs. Silas Strawn, Mrs. John Alden Carpenter, Mrs. B.F. Langworthy, Mrs. Florence Fifer Bohrer, and Mrs. Medill McCormick sponsored an international exposition to celebrate the progress and achievements of American women -- The Women's World's Fair, which was held at the American Exposition Palace on Lake Michigan in April 1925, and was held again each year in Chicago in April or May from 1926 to 1928. A local paper noted, of the first fair, that "One feature of the exhibit will be a collection of newspaper and magazine clippings, from various countries during the last 200 years emphasizing the storm of protest which greeted every suggestion for a freer social status for women." Newspaper articles mention organizing troubles that caused it to be cancelled in 1929. It was not held thereafter.

In 1930 Edith had a growth removed from her breast and died of cancer two years later. She and two of her children, John and Editha, are buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.


John Rockefeller McCormick (1896–1901) was the eldest son of Harold Fowler McCormick and his wife Edith Rockefeller McCormick. McCormick was a grandson of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper, and Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller. He died of scarlet fever.

Editha McCormick (1897–1898)

Harold Fowler McCormick, Jr. (1898–1973) who married Anna Urquhart Brown-Potter. She was the daughter of Cora Urquhart Brown-Potter, and was previously married to James A. Stillman

Muriel McCormick Hubbard (1903–1959)

Mathilde McCormick Oser (1906–1947)

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Edith McCormick's Timeline

August 31, 1872
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States
February 24, 1897
Age 24
November 15, 1898
Age 26
September 10, 1902
Age 30
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
September 17, 1903
Age 31
April 8, 1905
Age 32
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
August 25, 1932
Age 59
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States