The 16th of August is the time for the annual celebration of the Battle for Bennington, and it causes this writer to reflect on the contributions our family has made to the history of the United States in general, and the state of Vermont, and to the town of Bennington.
The Harrington family is rich in examples of the parts played in the development of the America we know, and the Vermont way of life. Our records show that, as far back as I have traced it, (thanks in no small part to the labor of love given by Saul Harrington’s wife, Olive, in her tireless efforts to bring our family history into focus before she passed on) it seems our family tree started with our patriarch, Sir John Harrington, knight, poet, and High Sheriff of Somerset County, and his wife, Mary Rogers.
An outstanding attribute to his name was the coining of words that have followed him down through the centuries, after he said, "Treason doth never prosper: What is the reason? For if it prosper, None dare call it treason."
Yet, the Irish claim that the name of Harrington is a stock Irish family name, and recorded as such in the Irish history books. Others have said that the name Harrington was an anglicized version of the Gaelic name of O’Harishton or O’Harishtain, which the English were prone to do. That may be, I suppose, why in reality, "If you ever go across the sea to Ireland, and maybe at the closin’ of the day, you can hoist a few at Pat Harrington’s Ale House, and watch the sun go down on Galway Bay.
Some interesting incidents, to this writer at any rate, are such things as: the first man over the top at the battle for Bunker Hill, I have read, was none other than Pat Harrington of the Irish volunteers -- fighting, of course, for the British. Yet, on the Green at Lexington "where (else) the embattled farmer stood, and fired the shot heard ‘round the world,’" The first man killed was a Harrington, right after the British were informed that they meant them no harm, but if war was to occur between them then, "Let it start, here and now." This is so noted on a plaque displayed there.
At any rate, the first member of our family to land on the shores of America was John Harrington, born in England around 1581, and drowned in Boston Harbor shortly after his arrival, in 1630. After his death, his wife, Ann Clinton Harrington, took the children and moved to Charlestown, R.I.
Zacharias Harrington, born in Smithfield, R.I., enlisted April 10, 1758, at age 21, for the French and Indian War, along with his brothers, Isaac and Benjamin, in Van Rensselaer ‘s 4th Regiment, Captain Brie’s Company, and fought for the British. He also served in the Revolutionary War in the same regiment as a sergeant, where he fought against the British.
Abraham, served in the Revolutionary War in Brie’s Company, 4th Regiment Van Rensselaer, along with other Harringtons whose names were Benjamin, James, Isaac, John, and Zechariah. After the French and Indian War, some of our relatives went on to Ohio and as far southwest as San Antonio where they settled. And some came up to the Shaftsbury-Fayville-Glastenbury area and settled.
Daniel, another brother, enlisted for service in the Revolutionary War in Captain Durkee’s Company of the Connecticut Militia.
Children of Benjamin Harrington:
Clark, born in 1722, died in 1787, married to Keziah Wood of Rehoboth, Mass. Served in the Revolutionary War from Vermont and also from Canterbury, Conn. Died in Shaftsbury in 1787. His will was presented to court for probate on Feb. 7, 1788, in which he named his present wife, Keziah, administrix. He was among the Green Mountain Boys who fought in the revolution from Vermont. By deed, he received land title there in 1780 and 1786.
Down through the ages, Harringtons have answered the call when the country needed aid. My father, Earl, enlisted and saw action in France along with another uncle, Ray, during World War I, as did my uncle Forrest, who served in the Navy. His boy, Donald, also served in the Navy during World War II.
My cousin Lynn and I served in the Korean War and left with Company C, 172nd Infantry, 43rd Division. At that time, MacArthur pulled an end run and broke the communists’ back with an invasion at Inchon, thus saving us from going to Korea, which we were scheduled to do, I am told. Instead, we were sent to Germany to help in the formation of NATO. (The only fighting this writer ever did was a few impromptu boxing matches we had in and around the company area.)
Millie and I had two sons who served during the Vietnam era. They are Michael and Christopher.
In honor of those who fought and died to keep us free, let us say a prayer, sing and remember all the patriots who gave us our precious gift of freedom and who sacrificed so much for our sake -- not only at the Battle for Bennington but on those battlefields throughout our history. God bless our troops, for they are the only thing left standing between our enemies and our freedom, and God bless the United States of America.
Moe Harrington lives in Shaftsbury.