Yellowstone County MTGenWeb

Yellowstone County Biographies

McCormick of Montana
(William H. McCormick)

This is a variation from the ordinary title at the head of individual articles in this publication, and of itself it is significant, and its significance is one readily recognized all over the state. Business men, farmers and grain growers in particular, know McCormick of Montana as a business man whose success has been a valuable asset to the state, and as proprietor of McCormick of Montana Seed House, the largest concern of the kind in the state. There are many McCormicks in and around Billings, but the post office department and citizens generally do not need the initial letters W. H. to identify McCormick of Montana.  

Personally he has been identified with business affairs in Montana for over a quarter of a century. He is a nephew of "the grand old man of Montana" Paul McCormick, distinguished as a Montana settler of 1866, a pioneer farmer, freighter, Indian fighter, rancher and one of the notable business builders of Billings.  

McCormick of Montana was born at Hancock, Wisconsin, August 2, 1871. The McCormicks have been noted for a high degree of commercial enterprise and likewise for prominence in all walks of life. His grandfather, James McCormick, was born in Cork, Ireland in 1791 and on coming to America settled in Steuben County, New York. Though a farmer he became very influential in civic affairs and acquired a large amount of property. He died at Rexville in Steuben County in 1886.  

Hugh McCormick, father of McCormick of Montana, was born at Greenwood in Steuben County New York in 1826. In 1858 he moved to Wisconsin, developed a large farm in that state, and lived there until his death at Hancock on June 16, 1871. He had the reputation of being progressive and energetic, and was one of the wealthiest men of his locality. He was successful in business and equally useful in the promotion of many worthy enterprises in his community. He was a republican in politics and a member of the Catholic Church. Hugh McCormick married Mary Raj-, who was born in New York in 1834 and died at Hancock, Wisconsin, in 1889. W. H. McCormick was the sixth and youngest child of his parents and was born after his father's death. The other members of the family were: Charles, who died at Rexville in Steuben County. New York, at the age of twelve years; Fred, who has for many years been a resident of Montana, was formerly a miner, and is now a farmer and stock man at Finch in Rosebud County ; Louise, unmarried, is a property owner at Tacoma, Washington: Theresa, wife of John Milne, a farmer and stockman at Rothamay in Fergus County, Montana ; Cora, unmarried, owner of considerable property at Billings and principal of the McKinley School in that city.  

As a boy McCormick of Montana was sent to New York State, and was educated in the Canisteo Academv at Canisteo, and the Christian Brothers' St Joseph College at Buffalo. Leaving school at the age of sixteen, he taught one year at Jasper in Steuben County, and in 1890 came to Billings, Montana. For twelve years he was manager of the grocery and hardware firm of Donovan and Spear. In 1903 he organized the McCormick Mercantile Company at Billings, his principal associate being his uncle, Paul McCormick. This partnership was continued for three years and was then superseded by the Donovan-McCormick Company, operating a department store.  The McCormick of Montana Seed House was established in 1907. This business might well be entitled to a lengthy description. The headquarters are at 2500 Minnesota Avenue. It is a business that has been developed to most extensive proportions by Mr. McCormick, and has undisputed claim to the position of being the largest seed house in Montana. The firm handles hay, grain and seeds in carload lots, also poultry supplies, and specializes as bean dealers, jobbers and shippers. In the handling, picking and grading of beans, a separate department by itself, seventy-five people are employed. Fifteen persons work in the seed house and office, and twenty five make up the staff of the hay baling department. The handling of hay is a big business in itself. Immense quantities are pressed and shipped by this firm to eastern markets. This is the house that has given Montana grown alfalfa seed a justified fame throughout the United States.  

As something of an auxiliary to the seed house is operated a 3,000 acre stock farm in Rosebud County. Part of this farm is devoted to the culture of pure seeds as well as pure bred livestock. The trial grounds for the seed house are on this ranch, and all the seeds marketed are submitted to tests to prove their high germination qualities as well as their adaptability to varying conditions of soil and climate.  McCormick of Montana also built and owns the McCormick Hotel at 2500 Montana Avenue, and his own home is the noted old McCormick Log Cabin property, the early residence of his uncle, Paul McCormick, and one of the interesting landmarks of Billings.  His initiative and enterprise are sufficiently displayed in the above brief record. His friends and associates appreciate even more his integrity, and the great persistence that marked his early struggles with fortune. Some of his intimate friends know that when he finished school and took up life as a business man he was $700 in debt. Out of his early earnings he paid off every dollar of his obligations and then undoubtedly thereby established a credit which has remained steadily with him to the present time.  

A bit of military history also belongs in the record of McCormick of Montana. He was a member of Troop A of Billings of the Montana National Guard, which volunteered during the Spanish-American war as Troop M of the Third United States Volunteer Cavalry of Rough Riders. This troop was in service seven months and was mustered out in September, 1898 at the close of the war.   Mr. McCormick is a member of the Billings Midland Club, is a republican, is affiliated with the Catholic Church, is a third degree Knight of Columbus, having membership in Billings Council, and is a member of the Billings Lodge of Elks. He also belongs to the Country Club, is treasurer and a director of the Midland Empire Fair Association, and a director and former president of the Rosebud Lake Association.  

In 1905, at Missoula, he married Miss Frances J. Murphy. She died at Billings in 1915, the mother of one daughter, Eloise, born March 9, 1913.



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