Biography of Hiram Herring


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HIRAM HERRING was born in Denmark, Lewis county, N. Y, January 18, 1817, and was the eldest of seventeen children, thirteen of whom lived to grow up. The writer of this sketch knew seven of the brothers and sisters. They had all taught school when young, and always took the greatest interest in educational, scientific and social subjects. They were great readers, and their retentive memories made their own their favorite books. The works of Emerson, Carlyle and Herbert Spencer were at their tongues’ end. They felt with these writers the same hatred for falseness and shams, and strove with them to get at the very bottom of all facts and fancies. Vigorous, earnest, outspoken, honest, independent—they left their mark upon the communities in which they lived.

The father of this interesting family, William Herring, was a native of Wiltshire, England; the mother Cynthia Buck, of Argyle, Washington county, N. Y. After a four years’ residence in Denmark, N. Y., William Herring went to Champion, where he engaged in the brewing business with Lyman, father of Orlin Holcomb. Closing out his business in 1826 he went to Gouverneur, St. Lawrence county. Here he bought a tract of land and was a farmer until his death. The incidents of the removal made an indelible impression upon the mind of Hiram Herring, and he was fond of relating that at nine years of age he drove a team of oxen through the wilderness from Champion to Gouverneur. He attended the village school until seventeen, when he left home to work in a neighboring village, Oxbow. From there he went to Watertown, where he arrived with the traditional ten cents in his pocket to seek his fortune.

After four years’ apprenticeship with Jason Fairbanks was completed he went to Rochester, well instructed in the manufacture of leather. For two years he worked at his trade in summer and taught in a school in winter. While in Rochester he made the acquaintance of Paulina Prosser of Clarkson, Monroe county, and they were married October 23, 1843. Two years previous to his marriage he purchased a tannery of Joseph Brown in Rodman, where he resided until his death, forty years later.

During those forty years he was respected by his business associates for energy, ability and uprightness of character. As to those whom he employed—it is interesting in these days of labor troubles to note that one of his workmen, Elijah Wolcott, served him for forty years. Hiram Herring was built on a broad plan—a patriarchal type that the conditions of another day made possible. He possessed to an extreme degree the positive qualities attributed to his brothers and sisters; was of fine physique, sunny nature and quick temper. An indefatigable reader and brilliant conversationalist, it was his special pleasure to expound the principles of the old Jeffersonian Democracy, in which he was a lifelong believer. He died on July 26, 1881, at the age of 64 years. His wife, Paulina, survived him three years, and died on August 9, 1884. Much might be written of her many excellent qualities. Without appearing in the least to rule, she was yet the guiding influence in the lives of her husband and children. One son and three daughters survived the parents: Ella, wife of Levi Washburn, of Rodman, N. Y., Mary E., wife of B. L. Barney, of Hanford, Cal., Jennie P., wife of Dr. Charles Douglass, and William P. Herring, of Watertown, N. Y.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Jefferson County, New York
Edited by: Edgar C. Emerson
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1898

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