Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kappa Sigma Bio: William Grigsby McCormick

Born on this date in 1851, William Grigsby McCormick would grow up to be an American businessman, one of the 5 Friends and Brothers (co-founders) of and the only Most Worthy Grand Master to the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Born in Chicago, IL, and son of William Sanderson and Mary Ann McCormick. After the death of his father, his mother moved the family to Baltimore, MD, near her families estates. He came from a prominent family: his grandfather was a famous inventor, his uncle invented the McCormick reaper (a type of harvester), his mother's cousin was President of the College of William and Mary, and William's own brother was an Ambassador to Austria, to Russia, and to France. He attended the University of Virginia starting in 1868 and a year later assisted in the founding of the Kappa Sigma fraternity which met in his room at 46 East Lawn. A plaque is affixed to his room which states:

HERE ON DECEMBER THE TENTH
MDCCCLXIX THE KAPPA SIGMA
FRATERNITY WAS FOUNDED BY
WILLIAM GRIGSBY McCORMICK -
GEORGE MILES ARNOLD - JOHN
COVERT BOYD - EDMUND LAW
ROGERS - FRANK COURTNEY
NICODEMUS manet mansura est.

After college, he traveled with his brother Robert to Europe (including a trip to Bologna) then returned to Baltimore where he worked as a banker for two years before marrying Eleanor Brooks, daughter of former railroad executive Walter Booth Brooks, on October 23, 1873. He would move back with his wife to Chicago where he worked for McCormick Brothers & Findlay then started his own insurance and real estate business with offices in Chicago and New York. In 1880, he was elected for one term as an alderman for the Chicago City Council. Him and his wife would go on to have 7 children; one of his three sons would go on to be initiated into Kappa Sigma fraternity at the celebration of the 50th year since the founding of Kappa Sigma.

In 1884 he helped form Smith, McCormick & Company to trade commodities on the Chicago Board of Trade and the next year became a member of the New York Stock Exchange. His trading firm became a part of the Schwartz, Dupee & Company stock trading firm until the 1893 panic, but William McCormick would work with Theodore Price to form Price, McCormick & Company in 1895. After his firm failed in a takeover, McCormick would retire on May 24, 1900.

At the 28th Biennial Grand Conclave held in Los Angeles, CA, in 1929, William Grigsby McCormick was the only of the 5 Friends and Brothers still alive and was elected to the position of "Most Worthy Grand Master". He is the only Brother to have held that title; the current presiding officer is referred to as "Worthy Grand Master".

William Grigsby McCormick died on November 29, 1941 at the family estate known as St. James Farm near Wheaton, Illinois. His death marked the end of the "Era of the Founders".

References

1. 5 Friends and Brothers. n.d. http://www.umich.edu/~kappasig/5Brothers.htm. 

2. History. n.d. http://kappasigma.org/about/history/. 

3. History of the Chapter. n.d. http://aig.alumni.virginia.edu/kappasigma/about/history-of-the-zeta-chapter/. 

4. Kappa Sigma. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_Sigma. 

5. William Grigsby McCormick. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Grigsby_McCormick.

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