Probably the death of no private citizen has called forth such universal and heartfelt expressions of genuine sorrow as were heard in Peru, Illinois, when the news was received that Captain McCormick had passed away. It was on June 25, 1893, when the earth was clothed with the verdure of springtime, a fitting season, for this noble life, which had battled with such courage with the world for eighty-five years, to lay down its burdens and begin the morning of a new life. He had resided in Peru for almost half a century, and was known and beloved far and w4de for his many good qualities of mind and heart. Many from surrounding cities were present to pay their last tribute of respect, and his remains were followed to their last resting place by a procession of friends that extended a mile in length. The Rev. B. F. Underwood, of Chicago, conducted the brief, but impressive services, speaking eloquently and touchingly of the honesty and integrity of Captain McCormick, and the genial, kindly, charitable nature that won friends in all circumstances and in all classes.
Captain John L. McCormick was born in Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, on New Year's day, 1808, and was a son of Joseph and Rebecca (Quigley) McCormick. The family were originally from Ireland, the greatgrandfather of our subject, Joseph McCormick, being a resident of county Antrim, near the famous "Giant's Causeway." After his death his widow with her family came to America, settling in Chester county, Pennsylvania, about the year 1760. John McCormick, the grandfather, was one of two brothers who came to this country with their mother; the brother went west and the grandfather settled in Pennsylvania, and from this source also are sprung the family of that name whose reapers have made their name familiar throughout the United States. John McCormick died in Pennsylvania, in 1842, after rounding out his century of life.
Joseph McCormick, the father, was also a Pennsylvanian, as was his wife. He was a farmer and raised his family of two sons and three daughters on his farm of eighty acres. He lived to be about seventy-five years old. None of his family are living. His wife was a daughter of John Quigley, a native of Lycoming county, but a German by descent. He was a farmer in his native state and an active, hard-working man. He had passed his eightieth year when he met an accidental death, being killed by a threshing machine.
Captain McCormick remained on his father's farm in his native state until he attained his majority. He was then appointed, by Governor Wolfe of that state, as foreman of the canal running between the mouth of the Juniata and Northumberland rivers. He held this position three years and then began buying and selling lumber, transporting it on rafts to New York and Port Deposit, Maryland. In 1836 he went to Pittsburg, where he continued in the same business, adding coal and ice to his stock. He remained in this enterprise until the fall of 1847, when he moved to Peru to engage in the ice business, having formed a partnership with William B. Quigley and Victor F. Wilson, the former having an office at Vicksburg and the latter at Natchez. They dealt extensively in ice, which was obtained from the Illinois river and the numerous sloughs in that vicinity. In 1854 Captain McCormick turned his attention to farming and stock-raising. He had, by his own unaided efforts and with no capital except a stout heart and willing hands, been steadily laying up a fortune, and was now the owner of over twelve hundred acres of choice land in the fertile valley of Illinois and it was a source of much pleasure to him during the remainder of his life to attend to its cultivation. He was a shrewd business man and a good manager, and in no place was his business ability better displayed than in the management of this large estate.
September 30, 1841, he was married to Miss Anna Jones, a native of Paupack, Pennsylvania, and a daughter of Henry and Arabella (Newman) Jones. Her parents were natives of Dublin, Ireland, who came to this country and settled in Paupack about the year 1820. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. McCormick, namely: Joseph Henry, who married Mrs. Jennie Arnold and has one son, Henry Joseph, who lives in Caledonia on a farm; William Quigley, who left college to take up arms for the Union, serving all through the war; he was promoted for bravery at the battle of Vicksburg, and died February 1, 1881, at the age of thirty-five years, eleven months and four days; John Lowry, Jr., who died November 15, 1891, aged forty-four years, one month and two days; Charles and Douglas who died in infancy; and twin daughters, Rebecca and Arabella, and the youngest child died in infancy. Miss Arabella, who is at home and has charge of her father's extensive business interests, manages the farms and other affairs of the estate with a clearness of perception and a sound judgment seldom displayed by a woman. Captain McCormick took an intelligent interest in politics and was active in furthering the interests of the Democratic party. He was elected mayor of Peru in 1855 and discharged the duties devolving upon him in an able and efficient manner. He was a warm personal friend of that eminent statesman, Stephen A. Douglas.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 270-272.