Leander James McCormick

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Leander James McCormick

Birthdate: (81)
Birthplace: Valley, Botetourt, Virginia, United States
Death: 1900 (80)
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
Place of Burial: Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert McCormick and Mary Ann Hall
Husband of Henrietta Maria Hamilton
Father of Robert Hall McCormick; Elizabeth Maria McCormick; Nettie McCormick-Goodhart; Leander Hamilton McCormick and John McCormick
Brother of Cyrus Hall McCormick; Robert Hall McCormick; Susan Jane McCormick; William Sanderson McCormick; Mary Caroline McCormick and 2 others

Managed by: Richard Alan Welch
Last Updated:

About Leander James McCormick

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leander_J._McCormick

Leander James McCormick (February 8, 1819 - February 20, 1900) of Virginia was born to the Irish American family of Robert and Mary Anne Hall McCormick in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Leander was a farmer, manufacturer, businessman (who owned vast amounts of real estate in downtown Chicago), and philanthropist.

He was raised at the family homestead of Walnut Grove, near Raphine in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley on the western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His father, Robert Hall McCormick, invented the mechanical reaper, for which Leander's brother Cyrus McCormick later received the patent. Leander eventually developed multiple improvements to the reaper and received patents for two of them, with the remainder being patented by his brother Cyrus.

At age 26, Leander married Henrietta Hamilton on her parents' homestead, Locust Hill, in Rockbridge County on October 22, 1845. The following year Robert McCormick died and his three living sons--Cyrus, Leander and William--established themselves in a business in Chicago run by Cyrus to manufacture the reaper and sell it across the midwest. There they created what eventually became the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company with Leander taking over management of the manufacturing department, which he controlled for the next 30 years.

By 1870, the McCormicks were one of the wealthiest families in the U.S. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of the Reaper Works and other buildings, as well as the Leander McCormick family residence at the corner of Rush and Ohio streets. Leander, his wife and children fled their burning home in early morning hours. They moved to the west side of the city for the next several years, but eventually returned to Rush and Ohio, where he spent the rest of his life (building the Virginia Hotel on this site in 1889).

The McCormicks, under Leander's direction, quickly rebuilt and recovered. By 1879, the business had fully recovered and was merged into a corporation. Leander stayed active in the management of the business until 1889 when he retired and sold his shares to his nephew, Cyrus H. McCormick, Jr.. After retiring from the business, Leander then invested heavily in real estate. At the time of his death, he had extensive holdings in downtown Chicago.

Leander donated funds for a refracting telescope to the University of Virginia. The telescope and building are known as McCormick Observatory and opened in 1885; the telescope was the largest in the U.S. and second largest in the world when completed.

In his later years, Leander McCormick remained in Chicago and began to research the McCormick genealogy. He eventually produced and published works on the McCormick family. His children were: Robert Hall McCormick II, Henrietta McCormick-Goodhart, Leander Hamilton McCormick. His daughter Henrietta married British barrister Frederick E. McCormick-Goodhart, and established a 540-acre (2.2 km2) estate northeast of Washington D.C. known as Langley Park.


Leander James McCormick is the fourth child of Robert McCormick and Mary Anna McChesney Hall. He was born in Virginia. He married Henrietta Maria Hamilton on 22 Oct 1845 at her parents, Patrick Hall and Susanna McChesney's Locust Hill, Rockbridge County, Virginia home. They had four children.

He was an inventor and businessman, He owned about a third share of the McCormick reaper company. He ran the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. He owned a lot of real estate including the Virginia Hotel that he died in, at Ohio and Rush Streets. He wrote the Family Record and Biography about the McCormick genealogy in 1896. He signed a copy and gave it to my great grandmother since her family is in the same book. Sepia photo on side was inside the book. Click on photo.

The Library of Virginia, Guide to the Papers of the McChesney Family contain: "Among the personal correspondence is an interesting letter, December 19, 1878, from L[eander] J. McCormick (1819-1900) of Chicago, Illinois, to Zachariah J. McChesney of Staunton, Virginia. He first expresses sympathy in a kind and empathetic manner for the death of McChesney's wife, [Nancy Bell McChesney]. McCormick discusses at length his father, Robert McCormick (1780-1846), who devoted his energies and inventive mind to an enterprise in which his name is scarcely known. He refers to his father's inventions, including the McCormick wheat reaper, hemp break with horse power, threshing machine, smith's bellows, hillside plow, water down, and clover sheller."

J&DG kindly sent me his obit (see photo) and a second column about Leander McCormick's Will, from The Lexington Gazette, Lexington, Virginia, February 28, 1900 issue. Transcription of latter: LEANDER McCORMICK'S WILL. Chicago, February 23, - Leander J. McCormick's will, which was filed in the Probate Court today, disposes of an estate scheduled as being worth $4,135,000, though Mr. McCormick's lawyer said the actual value is not less than $5,000,000.

 The will dated February 2, 1898, provides that the wife of the testator shall be awarded her lawful share of the estate.  This is nullified, owing to the fact that Mrs. McCormick died some time ago.  The estate is left in trust to R. Hall McCormick, who is nominated as executor of the will.  It is directed that the property shall be held in trust for twenty years.  At the expiration of that time it is to be divided equally between the three surviving heirs or their children, pending which division each of the heirs shall receive an annuity of $20,000.  The surviving heirs are R. Hall McCormick, Leander H. MCCormick, of Chicago, and Mrs. Nettie J. Goodhart, wife of F. E. Goodhart, of Hadlow Castle Kent, England.
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Leander James McCormick's Timeline

1819
February 8, 1819
Valley, Botetourt, Virginia, United States
1847
September 6, 1847
Age 28
Locust Hill, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
1850
May 2, 1850
Age 31
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
1858
1858
Age 38
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
1859
May 27, 1859
Age 40
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
1859
Age 39
Illinois, United States
1860
1860
Age 40
Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois
1860
Age 40
Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois
1860
Age 40
Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois
1870
1870
Age 50
Chicago Ward 20, Cook, Illinois