Men of Progress. Wisconsin. (pages 486-520) A selected list of biographical sketches and portraits of the leaders in business, professional and official life. Together with short notes on the history and character of Wisconsin.
McCORMICK, Robert Laird, banker and lumberman of Hayward, Sawyer county, Wis., is of Scotch-Irish descent, and possesses the industry, thrift and tenacity of purpose so characteristic of that race. His father, Alexander McCormick, was born at Great Island, Pennsylvania, in 1817, and served three years as a private in the civil war, but most of the time on detached service, as he was in feeble health. After the close of the war he dealt in real estate in several of the western states, and died in moderate circumstances in Sedalia, Mo., in 1877. Mr. McCormick's mother was Jane Hays Laird, who was born in Union county, Pa., in 1820, and died in Clinton county, in that state, in 1849. She was of Irish-English descent, and among her ancestors, as well as among those of her husband, were some who rose to distinction in the military service of this country.
R. L. McCormick was born October 29th, 1847, at Bald Eagle farm, Clinton county, Pa. He attended the graded school of Lock Haven, Pa., from 1854 to 1861. In April of the last named year he went with Company B, Eleventh Pennsylvania regiment, to Harrisburg, but was sent home, as he was much too young for the service, and was afterwards sent to Saunder's Military Institute, West Philadelphia, where he remained during the war. After leaving this institution he studied law with George White of Williamsport. He then entered the general office of the P. & E. Railway company, where he remained for several months. His next occupation was that of clerk in a general store in Tiffin, Ohio, in which he was engaged a year. In March, 1868, he became cashier for the Laird-Norton company, lumber manufacturers of Winona, Minn., with whom he has ever since been intimately associated. Losing his health from confinement in the office, he opened a retail lumber yard at Waseca, Minn., which, proving profitable, he remained there until 1882, when he went to the wilds of Sawyer county, Wisconsin, and, in company with A. T. Hayward of Oshkosh, erected a saw mill, which was the beginning of the business that is now known as the North Wisconsin Lumber company, of which Mr. McCormick has always been and still is secretary, treasurer, manager and part owner. Around the mill out of which came this lumber company has developed the flourishing city of Hayward. In January, 1884, in company with F. Weyerhaeuser, the multi-millionaire of St. Paul, he organized the Sawyer County bank, which is claimed to have the largest individual responsibility of any financial institution in Wisconsin. In 1890 he also organized the Northern Grain and Flouring Mills company at Ashland, and of this company he is, and has been from the start, secretary and treasurer. The company has an office in Chicago and an elevator in Manitowoc, with a capacity of 800,000 bushels. He is also president of the Mississippi and Rum River Boom company of Minneapolis, secretary of the Mississippi River Lumber company. Clinton, Iowa, and interested in other banks, land and lumber companies in the northwest.
Mr. McCormick cast his first vote for Gen. Grant for president, in 1868, and has always voted the Republican ticket, and been in sympathy with the party policy. He filled the offices of councilman and mayor when a resident of Waseca, Minn., and was senator in that state in 1880-82. During his term the railway bonds were adjusted, and the senate sat as a court in the trial of Judge E. St. Julien Cox on articles of impeachment, and removed him. On the organization of Sawyer county in 1883, Gov. Rusk commissioned Mr. McCormick as county treasurer, to which office he was afterward elected and re-elected, and served six years. He was afterward chairman of the county board of supervisors for two years, has been vice-president of the State Historical society of Wisconsin since 1893, is an eminent member of the Masonic fraternity, having held some of the highest offices therein, a member of the Sons of Veterans, Sons of the American Revolution, Society of the War of 1812, the Minnesota club, and a trustee of the First Congregational church of Hayward.
Mr. McCormick was married September 11th, 1870, to Anna E. Goodman of Seneca county, Ohio, and they have three children--Blanche Amelia, born in 1873; Wm. Laird, born in 1876; and Robert Allen, born in 1885.
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