Posted by: Ron DuBour | January 2, 2015

American Heroes~Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884)~by rldubour

Friday!! time for an American Hero, an inventor! A little bit of history with the help of poetry!


Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884)

Born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

To Robert and Mary Ann Hall.

An older brother Robert Junior

Cyrus would be most famous of them all.


Dad was a prosperous farmer

Five-hundred and thirty two acre farm.

Their homestead called Walnut Grove

Home was decorated with Mom’s charm.


Always been a keen inventor he made

A lightweight cradle for harvesting grain.

While at the age of fifteen years

Much more knowledge he would gain.


Dad was working on a horse drawn reaper

Which he abandoned in thirty-one.

Cyrus added several key features

Further refined till he was done.


He finally took out a patent

In eighteen-hundred and thirty-four.

In forty-seven moved to Chicago

To open McCormick’s “Virginia Reaper” store.


His reaper won the highest award

At London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition.

In eighteen-hundred and fifty-one

His reaper received world recognition.


Cyrus would send for his brothers

William and Leander were made partners.

Due to his mechanical inventiveness

America had the most efficient farmers.


They formed the McCormick Company

And International Harvester.

The reaper enhanced the farmers

To produce more and more food and fiber.


In eighteen-hundred and thirty-one

Ninety per cent of the people farmed land.

Today it’s less than two per cent.

Work done by machinery now at hand.


Cyrus Hall McCormick

Died in eighteen-eighty-four.

His knowledge and ingenuity

World wide would not ignore.


AUTHOR NOTES: Robert McCormick (the grandfather of Cyrus McCormick) moved from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1779 with his wife Martha and their 5 children. They bought a log house and 450 acres near the Rockbridge/Augusta County line. Robert operated the grist mill on the property and became a quite prosperous farmer. His son, also named Robert, was born in 1780. By 1812, tax rolls showed the elder Robert owning 4 slaves and 7 horses. His properties included a sawmill, a cider mill, a distillery, two grain mills, and a smokehouse. In 1808 the younger Robert had married Mary Ann Hall (called Polly) of Augusta County. They lived for a time with Robert’s father in the old log house, and built the brick manor house in the summer of 1822. Polly filled the house with splendid mahogany furniture from the stores in Lynchburg and Richmond. The younger Robert by this time had also bought the 532 acre home farm, called “Walnut Grove”, from his father. One of Robert’s sons, Cyrus, was born in 1809. Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884) conceived plans for his reaper, built and tested it, and then remodeled it for public trial, all within six weeks time. McCormick worked far into the night to complete the world’s first reaper for the harvest of 1831. A trusted Negro helper, Jo Anderson, assisted him in the shop. McCormick had always been a keen inventor. In 1824, at age 15, Cyrus invented a lightweight cradle for harvesting grain. Cyrus’ father, Robert, had worked in the farm’s blacksmith shop intermittently since about 1815 on a horse-drawn reaper, but was never successful in perfecting it. He finally abandoned the project at the beginning of the 1831 harvest. Cyrus picked up where his father had left off and added several key features to his father’s design. By the end of the same 1831 harvest, Cyrus had the first successful demonstration of his reaper. Cyrus further refined his reaper, and finally took out a patent in 1834. McCormick’s reaper spread – slowly at first, but then at a pace that quickly outstripped his ability to produce the machines at the Walnut Grove blacksmith shop. In 1847, he moved to Chicago to serve the vast prairie grain fields of the Midwest. Shortly thereafter he sent for his brothers William and Leander, who became partners with Cyrus. By 1856, Cyrus was famous the world over. McCormick’s “Virginia Reaper” hastened the westward expansion of the United States, and this expansion produced new markets for the reaper. In 1851, the reaper won the highest award of the day, the Gold Medal at London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition, and Cyrus McCormick became a world celebrity. McCormick’s success was partly due to his mechanical inventiveness. But he also was a pioneer in business techniques: easy credit to enable farmers to pay for machines from increased harvests; written performance guarantees; and advertising to convince farmers to buy his reaper. He helped make farmers mechanically minded and willing to try new ideas. That willingness, in turn, made American farmers the most efficient in the world. The reaper and other farm machines, which came from the McCormick Company and subsequent companies (International Harvester and now Tenneco’s J.I. Case affiliate), allowed fewer and fewer people to produce more and more food and fiber. In the process, our society was transformed. Instead of 90 percent of the population farming to meet the nation’s needs, as was the case in 1831, today fewer than 2 percent of the US population are directly involved in farming. Freed from the soil, people turned their energies to industry, science, arts, and other ways to improve the quality of life in this country and around the world.

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