He was born at "Woodbridge", the McCormick family farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia  , in the Shenandoah Valley on the western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His parents were, Mary Ann Hall; and Robert Hall McCormick. His siblings included: Leander J. McCormick and William Sanderson McCormick. He got his influence from his father who patented early versions of the reaper, which were unsuccessful. His father passed the invention on to him and he perfected it soon after.