McCormick Reaper Business Time line
It all began in 1778 when Robert McCormick emigrated from
This main factory was very successful but on
Cyrus Rice McCormick, the founder of the McCormick Tract was born on
The last 25 years of the 1800's saw many companies develop harvesters and reapers with many lawsuits. Finally in 1902, at the suggestion of JP Morgan, the five largest, John Deere Co., the Deering Co., the Milwaukee Harvester Co., Champion and the McCormick Co., joined together under the name International Harvester Co.. Much of this merger was carried out by a brilliant young attorney, who represented the McCormick Co., Cyrus Bentley. Cyrus H. McCormick at age 36, became President while Charles Deering took over as Chairman of the Board. In 1918, Cyrus became Chairman of the Board with his brother Harold as President.
Robert McCormick came up with the idea of the reaper,
Cyrus H McCormick developed the idea into a marketable invention and began its production, and
His Son, Cyrus Hall McCormick, founder of the McCormick Tract, became the Industrialist.
Discovery and Formation of the McCormick Tract
The history of the McCormick Tract began in 1884. This was the year the
eldest Cyrus died and his son Cyrus became President of McCormick Co. and went
on his first camping trip. While at
Dr. Gray would often go camping all over the
One day, in 1884, Dr. Gary invited Cyrus to accompany him on one of his camping trips. Before leaving, he met with Cyrus' mother and had some of Cyrus' personal belongings sent ahead so Cyrus would feel at home. Cyrus, Dr. Gray and another companion traveled north by train to Champion then by Indian guide north up an old Indian trail along the Peshekee river. When they reached the campsite on the edge of a nameless lake, Cyrus was surprised to see a large white tent, beds with sheets and an assortment of his own personal effects.
In the following years, Cyrus and his attorney Cyrus Bentley began to
frequent this area. They would come and set up a temporary base camp on a small
rocky island in this lake. On one such trip, they were sitting on the island
looking at a high rocky bluff and decided it should be named the Fortress.
Later they named the lake after this bluff calling it
In the late 1800's, Peter White, J.M. Longyear and
Over the next 16 years 13 separate purchases established the tract at 2933 acres. The first building built was the library cabin on the island in 1904. The majority of the other island buildings date to 1906 or 1907. Around that time an expansion took place onto the lake shore and was well developed in the 1930's.
Mr. Bentley's cabin in the
Another of the many tasks was the development of the trail system around the
lakes and of the Bentley trail from
In November of 1907, Cyrus McCormick decided to officially name the
The Later Years
October 1935 was Cyrus' last visit to the site. He died on
This information is taken exclusively from the following two references:
Superior Heartland A Backwoods History Vol. I Book
II by C. Fred Rydholm published privately by C. Fred Rydholm,
A History of the McCormick Family's Use of White Deer Lake Camp, McCormick
Experimental Forest, Baraga, Marquette Counties, Michigan. Submitted to:
"My thanks to Tom Foye for allowing me space
on his fine web site. He has depicted the McCormick Tract area very
well. If you would like to learn more of the history of this unique
place, I have written a book about the origin, life and demise from 1906 until its procurement by the U.S. Forest
Service in 1968. My father, Ted Tonkin, was the superintendent of the
An excerpt from Mrs. Cooley's book describing life at White Deer Lake Camp ....
"From the start of freezing weather in late fall, after the level of the lake had been lowered to accommodate the expected spring run-off, one spot about 200' from shore, just off the boathouse, was kept clear of snow. This area measured approximately 100' square. Near the middle of January, it was ice cutting time. When the ice had accumulated to 20" thick, huge blocks were cut measuring 20" x 18" x 20" and weighing approximately 200 lbs. The men used a hand-held ice saw to cut the chunks and ice tongs to pull them from the water. These were loaded on a small sled and pulled to the ice house located some 500' from shore in the south end of the Kitchen building. If conditions permitted, the tractor was employed to pull the sled up a short, but steep hill. Otherwise the men had to do it using a hand winch. A block and tackle hoisted the chunks into the ice house. Once in place, these blocks were stacked amid piles of sawdust. In a good winter as many as 300 blocks (or about 26-30 tons of ice) would be stored for use in the iceboxes during the following year."
Reprinted here with permission from Kathleen Cooley. Thanks for writing your excellent book, Kathleen!