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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



HENRY W. McCORMICK, Ph. D., of Normal, is one of the self-made men of the Prairie State, who has, through his own perseverance and love of learning, obtained a fine education under adverse circumstances, and from a humble position in life, now takes his rightful place among the intelligent minds of the age.

Prof. McCormick is a native of Ireland, born in County Mayo on the 5th of February, 1837. His parents were Edmund Burke and Betty (Rowan) McCormick, also of Irish birth and parentage. The former came to the United States in 1851, and engaged as clerk in New York City. He only lived, however, two years after coming here, his death occurring in 1853.

That same year our subject crossed the waters to join his father, and upon arriving here found that he had died ten days before. Henry then occupied himself in various pursuits.

After a brief visit with relatives he went to Ohio, and in Washington County was employed for one year as a laborer on a railroad. He then went onto a farm in Guernsey County, Ohio, where, for his services, he received $11 per month. After a few months he was taken ill and remained in feeble health until the following spring.

He then went to Walworth County, Wis., and was there employed as a farm laborer during the summer of 1855, at the rate of $100 per year, attending school during the winter season, and doing chores for his board. Determined upon securing a good education, he alternated his farm work with the pursuit of his studies, and in due time entered Wayland University [ed., Wayland Academy] at Beaver Dam, Wis., where he took a thorough course of one year, and at the expiration of this time again resumed his farm labors. In November, 1859, he commenced teaching in a district school in Walworth County, near the State line, where he was employed four months at $16 per month, and boarded round."

The following Christmas he was united in marriage with Miss Numantia B. Kinyon, who was born in New York State, but in childhood removed with her parents to Wisconsin. In the spring of 1860 Mr. McCormick located on a small farm owned by his wife, and situated in Le Roy Township, Boone Co., Ill. To this he removed with his wife, cultivated his land in summer and taught school in the winter seasons, continuing thus employed until the spring of 1865.

The mother of our subject, in the meantime, who had remained in Ireland when her first husband came to the United States, was married the second time in her native country, and with her daughter and husband came, in 1863, to the United States and settled in Athens County, Ohio.

Of the first marriage there had been only two children, our subject, and his sister Alice, who became the wife of Peter Deane, and now resides at Lake View, Ill. The step-father of our subject was Anthony Dunlavy, and of the marriage of his mother with this gentleman, there were born two sons Christopher and James.

In 1866 our subject concluded to adopt the profession of a teacher for the future, and in order to prepare himself more thoroughly for its duties and requirements, he entered the Illinois State Normal University, where he remained for the following three years, and from which he graduated in June, 1868. He was then elected Principal of the Normal Public Schools, which position he occupied for a year, and in the summer of 1869 was elected to a professorship in the University, first as Professor of Geography, to which has since been added history. After graduating at the Illinois State Normal University, Prof. McCormick took the Post Graduate course at Illinois Wesleyan University [ed., Illinois Wesleyan University], and received the degree of A. M., to which was afterward added that of Ph. D.

In his history have been illustrated the results of resolution and perseverance in a marked degree. When landing in New York City young McCormick possessed but a half crown (sixty cents) and even this small sum he loaned to a lady before leaving the vessel, so he practically began life at the foot of the ladder in the New World. Too much credit cannot be given to the possessor of such wise determination, and such courage amid many difficulties.

Prof, and Mrs. McCormick have become the parents of five children, as follows: Alice is the wife of Oliver R. Trowbridge, Principal of the Lacon Schools [ed., now the Midland School District]; Nelson K. is a practicing physician at Bloomington; Edmund B., Ferdinand C. and Henry G. are at home.

The family residence is pleasantly located between Bloomington and Normal, and its inmates are surrounded by all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. They enjoy the friendship and association of the most cultured people of this vicinity.

Although not a politician, Prof. McCormick upholds the principles of the Republican party, with which he uniformly casts his vote. He is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, belongs to the A. F. & A. M. [ed., Ancient Free and Accepted Masons], and is an Alderman of the city of Normal. His intellectual and social attainments have constituted him one of the most valuable members of society, and one of the bright lights of a rarely intelligent community.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 352. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.

286 McCORMICK, HENRY Nat. Rec. Bk. A Co. Ct. 1864-1873 p. 118 Final Order Oct. 13, 1866; Native of Ireland; Witness N. B. McCormick; Renounce allegiance to Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
[source: McLean County Immigration]


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