The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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July 5, 2013

A trip through the Herrity family tree

I can just imagine this illiterate Irish fellow coming to America, about 1849, and pronouncing his barely-distinguishable name with a thick brogue, and having a customs agent hand him his new phonetically-spelled grand old Irish name— (H- E- double R- I - T & Y- spells “Herrity”… try singing it to the tune of “Harrigan”…)— only, ‘tiz a new name! My sister, Carol Herrity Coryn, once found a Herrity’s Bar in Dublin, but it was likely an expatriate, i.e. the “Quiet Man”, as old Ireland maps do not show that name. (See O’Hiorrachaigh, O’Haraughty, and Hearrity/ Hararty.)

Young Herrity started west on the railroad, stopping for a time in Chicago. Eventually, he reached the end of the railroad, in Clinton, and that is where he chose to live. The elder of his two sons, John (my grandfather), died young while working on the railroad in Kansas City, in 1901. While most of his brother Thomas “Nibs” Herrity’s descendants, still live in Clinton, most of our branch moved away — except for Molly Ann (Herrity) Judge, Richard and myself. Cousin Johnny Herrity (SMHS ‘38), of Seattle, once sent me a genealogy showing all of America’s Herritys. Noteworthy was the fact that 75 percent were named “Thomas” or “John” — and most lived east of the Mississippi. Apparently, the family wasn’t too creative when it came to boys’ names, and they stopped wandering when things got good.

Upon his arrival in the new town of Clinton, our immigrant forbearer, Thomas, worked for a freight operation for a time and married a widow with young children, Mrs. Catherine (McFadden) Jennings (1832-1907), also from Ireland. Tom would later open a tavern on the corner of 12th Avenue South and Fourth Street, right near the railroad tracks, and they bought a little house just down the road at 434 12th Ave.

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