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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Not So Grim Reaper


February 15th is the birthday of Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884). In 1831 he invented the first commercially successful reaper, a horse-drawn machine to harvest wheat. It was immensely popular with farmers in the burgeoning Midwest, leading him to form the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in 1848 to manufacture and sell his invention. The Chicago firm grew into the largest farm equipment manufacturer in the United States, selling reapers , grain binders and a variety of other machines needed by farmers across the nation. Through innovative advertising McCormick created one of the most successful corporations in Gilded Age America (and one of its largest family fortunes). The company eventually became part of the International Harvester Company, and its archives eventually came to the Wisconsin Historical Society, where they are one of the largest and richest collections for the study of American life. For more pictures, including an exhibit of McCormick Company advertising posters, see our page devoted to the McCormicks and their company.
:: Posted in Odd Lives on February 15, 2005
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