I spend time reflecting on the harvest of small grains -- since I live where so much wheat is grown -- and think how it relates to my father's birth family who came from Scotland, spend many years trying to raise potatoes, and entered the industrial revolution as agents of the Kovar Kultivator business which was at the time a horse-drawn machine, esp. useful in getting rid of quackgrass.
The Sam Strachan family was educated and Kovar made them prosperous enough to send the oldest boy (my father) to college in Winnipeg and his sibs to trade schools in the same city. Among his early photos are shots of the college campus just as the main buildings were opened. The industrial revolution was barely reaching inland North America where transportations was on rivers and canals. Enough men had the right kind of training that small items like sewing machines powered by foot treadles and variations on the theme of horseless carriages were being invented daily. Some acquired famous names that became generic, like Singer, but Kovar never did, though business with that name persists.
The big small grain reaper name that stuck was McCormick. This link is to a vid of the 179 year old, still horse drawn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZNHRXOWptw of the 179 year old, still horse drawn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTdKHXELWhI This vid tells the story of the beginnings of the machine.
This link shows the "combine" that combined cutting and threshing. http://historylink101.com/lessons/farm-city/combine.htm This link is about the next evolution, the use of steam engines. http://historylink101.com/lessons/farm-city/steam-engine.htm Until I began to look at these links, I thought a McCormick Reaper was the same as a motor-driven combine, not this early device sitting behind a horse, though some people still harvest that way. I've always associated the machine with the industrial behemoths that park in front of my house while forming up the Valier Homesteader Parade, monsters that are taller than my house, in the phrase of a poetic writer, "fire-hearted beasts", creatures of fossil fuel.
My father (1903 to 1969) was deeply involved in these machines and took us through the Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, with all the solemnity of someone visiting the Tyrrell Museum of early life. http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com We were not as enchanted with Ford's rows and rows of steam engines as our father was. Anyway, Henry Ford turned out not to be much of a role model. https://www.thehenryford.org/visit/henry-ford-museum/exhibits/agriculture
But the McCormick family was not exemplary either. (Wikipedia) "Cyrus Hall McCormick (February 15, 1809 – May 13, 1884) was an American inventor and businessman who founded the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which later became part of the International Harvester Company in 1902. Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, he and many members of his family became prominent residents of Chicago." They were at the beginning of our modern life as we know it.
"McCormick has been simplistically credited as the single inventor of the mechanical reaper. He was, however, one of several designing engineers who produced successful models in the 1830s. His efforts built on more than two decades of work by his father Robert McCormick Jr., as well as the aid of Jo Anderson, a slave held by his family. He also successfully developed a modern company, with manufacturing, marketing, and a sales force to market his products."
In other words, he was not an inventor so much as a commercial developer, competing with other reapers, occasionally elbowing them aside from a new stronghold in Chicago. At age 49 he married his secretary, who had been an orphan, and they had seven children. Two of them, Mary and Stanley, suffered from schizophrenia. This might suggest how their mother became an orphan. (Stanley McCormick's life inspired the 1998 novel Riven Rock by T. Coraghessan Boyle.)
The "original" McCormick moved in elevated circles and helped found McCormick Theological Seminary which became part of the University of Chicago, but his son, Cyrus Jr. was the first chair of the Moody Bible Institute, quite a different body. There was marriage to a Rockefeller, thus Rockefeller Chapel on the U of C campus. I'd had no idea.
"As wealthy socialites, with two family fortunes available, the McCormicks were prominent in Chicago social and cultural circles, donating large amounts of money and time to causes.. Edith McCormick began support of the Art Institute in 1909 as a charter member and supported it with monetary contributions and loans from her extensive personal art collection. She and Harold, along with other wealthy patrons, founded the Grand Opera Company, the first in Chicago, in 1909.
"In 1913, she travelled to Zurich to be treated for depression by Carl Gustav Jung, and contributed generously to the Zürich Psychological Society. After extended analysis and intense study, Edith became a Jungian analyst, with a full-time practice of more than fifty patients."
This family web is a weaving of money, brilliance, connections, and mental affliction, suggesting the knife-edge between genius and madness. It is full of surprises. One of the most interesting is Katharine McCormick, who worked closely with Margaret Sanger in the interest of birth control. Once she managed to smuggle in 1,000 diaphragms -- I dread to think how big a mass that was or how she did it. My father was devoted to the ideas of Margaret Sanger, but I don't know how he was aware of the movement. He got his condoms by mail in a plain brown wrapper.
She and her husband, Stanley, who had graduated from Princeton before he had to be hospitalized at Riven Rock, had no children nor did they divorce. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_McCormick It could be said that the invention of the contraceptive pill and the feminist movement of that time have changed the world more than the McCormick reaper. Katharine also threw much energy and research into the causes of schizophrenia, which remains too complex to be solved, though it can be treated.
So far as I know, there had not been a DNA study of this family. They are not so celebrated these days: people are not alert to the key importance of industrial harvest of small grains, their own DNA, or the quality of the vast expanses of land that they use. The story is not near completion and probably never will be.