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Cyrus Hall McCormick was an American inventor and businessman. He was the founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which would become the International Harvester Company in 1902.
See the fact file below for more information on the Cyrus Hall McCormick or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Cyrus Hall McCormick worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Cyrus Hall McCormick was born on 15 February 1809 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
- He was the eldest of eight children and born to inventor Robert McCormick Jr. and Mary Ann Hall.
- On 26 January 1858, at 49 years old, Cyrus married his secretary Nancy Fowler. They had seven children.
- Cyrus Hall McCormick Jr. was born on 16 May 1859, followed by Mary Virginia McCormick on 5 May 1861, then came Robert McCormick III born on 5 October 1863, but died on 6 January 1865.
- Anita McCormick was born 4 July 1866; Alice McCormick was born on 15 March 1870 but died on 25 January 1871. Harold Fowler McCormick was born on 2 May 1872. The last born, Stanley Robert McCormick, was born on 2 November 1874.
- Cyrus died at home in Chicago on 13 May 1884.
- Cyrus’s father saw the potential of the design for a mechanical reaper, so he applied for a patent, claiming it as his invention. For 28 years, he worked on a horse-drawn mechanical reaper to harvest grain, but failed to produce a reliable prototype.
- Cyrus built on his fathers’ design with the help of Jo Anderson, an African-American slave that worked on the McCormick plantation. Their design would use horses to pull the reaper machine and cut the grain to the other side.
- Cyrus did his first demonstration of the mechanical reaper at Steeles Tavern, Virginia, in 1831.
- Cyrus got the patent for the reaper on 21 June 1834, but two years after being granted the patent, they had yet to sell a single one of their machines because it couldn’t handle the different conditions.
- To supplement the family income, they worked together in a blacksmith/metal smelting business.
- In 1839, Cyrus began more public demonstrations of the reaper. Selling, his first one in 1840.
- Cyrus continued to improve the design. He would sell seven in 1842, 29 in 1843, and 50 in 1844. Cyrus received a second patent for the reaper’s improvements on 31 January 1845.
- They were getting orders for the reaper from further west, where the land is flatter and the farms larger. This led him to contract the production of making the machines to several other factories. But their quality was often not adequate and hurt the reputation of the product.
- Cyrus’s father died in 1847, Cyrus; and his brother Leander decided to move to Chicago, where they built a factory.
- Cyrus tried to renew his patent in 1848, but the US Patent Office noted that a similar machine had already been patented by Obed Hussey. Cyrus tried to claim that he had invented the machine in 1831, but his renewal application was denied.
- William Manning of Plainfield, New Jersey patented his reaper in May of 1831 but was not defending his patent.
- Cyrus’s brother William moved to Chicago in 1849, joining the company to help take care of the financial affairs.
- The McCormick reaper began to sell well because of the innovative business practices. Cyrus developed marketing and sales techniques by training salesmen to demonstrate the machine in the field.
- Cyrus traveled to London in 1851, where he displayed a reaper at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. The McCormick reaper harvested a field of green wheat, while the Hussey machine failed. Cyrus won the gold medal and was admitted to the Legion of Honor. But the festivities were short-lived when he was told that he had lost the court challenge to the Hussey patent.
- One of the other competitors of the McCormick Company was John Henry Manny of Illinois. The Manny Reaper beat the McCormick reaper at the Paris Exposition of 1855. Cyrus filed a lawsuit against Manny for patent infringement, demanded that Manny stop producing their reapers and pay him $400 000.
- They scheduled the trial to take place in Chicago in September 1855. Both sides hired prominent lawyers. Cyrus, hired US Attorney General Reverdy Johnson, and new York patent attorney Edward Nicholl Dickerson. Manny hired George Harding and Edwin M Stanton. The trial was set to take place in Illinois. George Harding hired a local lawyer called Abraham Lincoln. The trail then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Manny won the case with a ruling from State Supreme Court Judge John McLean.
- In 1856, Cyrus’s factory produced more than 4 000 reapers a year; most of them selling in the Midwest and west.
- In 1861, Hussey’s patent was extended. Cyrus’s patent was denied. Cyrus sought help from the US congress to protect his patent.
- During the great fire of Chicago, the factory burnt down. Taking the advice of this wife, Cyrus reopened his factory in 1873.
- In 1879, Leander changed the company’s name from Cyrus H McCormick and brothers to McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. He did this to acknowledge the contributions of other family members to the reaper invention.
Cyrus Hall McCormick Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Cyrus Hall McCormick across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Cyrus Hall McCormick worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Cyrus Hall McCormick who was an American inventor and businessman. He was the founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which would become the International Harvester Company in 1902.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Cyrus Hall McCormick Facts
- True or False
- Cyrus Hall McCormick Quiz
- Women in Agriculture
- Fill in the Blanks
- Shine the Light
- Bottle Greenhouse
- Rearrange the Words
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