James Herries

...buried in an unmarked grave...

James Herries was born June 9, 1885 in Maxwelltown, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, the youngest of four children (all sons) of John Herries, a carpenter, and Helen Fergusson. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Kilmarnock, East Ayeshire, Scotland.

James, age 15, was a telephone operator (and the occupations of his brothers John and William are given as “Steam Engine Fitters”). Sometime between 1901 and 1906, the oldest brother, John Fergusson Herries, emigrated to the United States. A 1906 wedding announcement appears in the Trenton, New Jersey Times, for his marriage to Minnie Taylor. John was employed at that time as a railroad machinist, and continued employed with the Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and then Burlington Northern Railroad until his death in 1941 in Livingston, Montana. Sometime between 1910 and 1915, John and Minnie moved to Chicago, moving from New Jersey to Iowa along the way. James’s brother, William Hamilton Herries, emigrated to the United States in 1908, giving his occupation as “Engineer” and last place of residence as Kilmarnock. In 1910, William was living in Chicago Ward 1, a boarder in the household of Charles Eudlick. There is a 1911 census record for James, age 25, living with his widowed mother in Kilmarnock, his occupation given as Telephone Inspector, National Telephone Co. Sometime between 1911 and 1914, James emigrated to Chicago, joining one or both of his two brothers. William moved back to Scotland probably before 1920 and died there in 1959.

James died on the Eastland. At the time of his death, James had been working for Western Electric for about 1 year. His 1915 death certificate shows his cause of death as: “From STEAMER EASTLAND, Chicago River at Clark Street.” The informant is John F. Herries. James’s parents’ names are given as John Herries and Stellen Floyen. The person filling out the death certificate likely had trouble understanding John’s Scottish accent, turning Helen Fergusson into Stellen Floyen. Both John and James’s addresses are 2965 South Park Avenue.

James is buried in an unmarked grave (burying single men in unmarked graves may have been customary at the time).

The Herries brothers and their descendants, they were tall, handsome, intelligent, hard-working, good humored Scots. James most likely had a sweetheart at the time of his death, possibly a young lady who also perished in the Eastland Disaster.

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