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 John Raymond “Jack” McInerney, Sr

John Raymond “Jack” McInerney, Sr

New London, Henry County, Iowa, USA
Death 5 Oct 1988 (aged 96)
Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Burial Willard, Huron County, Ohio, USA
Memorial ID 106069912 · View Source
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John Raymond "Jack" McINERNEY, Sr. was the 1st of 7 children of John Joseph & Mary Ellen (HENESSEE) McINERNY. His siblings, 5 sisters and 1 brother, were: Grace Marie (McINERNY) SUMAN (1894-1970), Helen (McINERNY) BUHL (1896-1986), Mary Lorraine (McINERNY) HYLTON (1898-1989), Margaret (McINERNY) WEISLEY DWORZACK (1901-1992), Clara E. (McINERNY) McBRIDE (1903-1983), and James A. McINERNY (1906-1968). [NOTE: Jack changed the spelling of his last name to add the 2nd "E" at the end. He had been told by one of the nuns who taught him in school that the "correct" spelling from the old country was McINERNEY and not McINERNY. Of course, one is not "correct" and the other "incorrect," but McINERNEY appears to be the much more predominant spelling. As an example, I just searched the Find-A-Grave System and found 413 memorials for individuals with the surname of McINERNY and 3,915 with the surname of McINERNEY.]

Jack was married on February 20, 1917, in West Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa, to Lela Josephine O'RILEY (1892-1986). From that marriage 2 children were born: Mary Jane (McINERNEY) MILLER (1918-2016) and John Raymond McINERNEY, Jr. (1920-1970). Jack and Lela divorced in the early 1920's.

In 1930, Jack married Margaret CAVANY (1902-1970) at Akron, Summit, Ohio. They had one child: Carole (McINERNEY) BRUEGGEMANN. Jack and Margaret were divorced probably in the early 1940's, but they remarried in 1944 at Norwalk, Huron, Ohio. He lived to the age of 96.

A man of adventure, the following article, which appeared in the Tuesday, December 8, 1914 issue of the BURLINGTON (IOWA) GAZETTE, describes one such adventure:

- John McInerny (sic) Describes Experiences When Held as a Suspect -- Eventually Proved His Innocence --
-- Released Only When U.S. Demanded--Greasers Wanted to Lynch Him --

If Woodrow Wilson at any time decides to discontinue his "watchful waiting" policy in regard to Mexico and decides, instead to send some of his soldiers into that country, John McInerney of West Burlington will be among the first to enlist. John has a grudge against Mexico and has very good cause for retaining this self-same grudge, for McInerney lay for a month and a half in one of the worst of the Mexican prisons and suffered all the indignations accompanying such incarceration.

He returned to Burlington Saturday (i.e., 12/5/1914) and had a decidedly interesting story to tell of his adventures in Mexico from the time he was kidnaped (sic) in United States territory, in company with three other Americans, and thrown into jail, accused of blowing up a railroad bridge.

It was not known here that he had been imprisoned until some thirty days after he was taken prisoner, but everything possible was done until, on Thanksgiving eve, he was released and allowed to return to the United States, which country, according to his statements, looks good enough to him to warrant his staying here the rest of his natural existence.

The account of the adventures undergone by the young man reads like one of the wildest tales of the west in the days of Geronimo and some ofthe other of the noted characters.

Mr. McInerney learned the trade of a machinist in the West Burlington shops and last May felt the longing to see some of this country. In line with that inclination he left Burlington on May 29 and went to Tucson, Ariz., where he worked for five months as a machinist for the Southern Pacific railroad. He left Tucson in October for Nogales, Ariz., and stayed there two days, when he received an invitation from two other Americans, Carraway and Wilson, to go with them to Naco, Ariz., in an auto. The Mexicans were fighting at Naco, Sonora, just across the border from the Arizona city of the same name, and the men were curious to see some of the excitement.

Accordingly, a car was hired and the men set out. They progressed nicely until in one of the many crossways they became lost and soon came to a cut in the hills and saw the monument marking the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. They then realized that they were on the wrong road and attempted to turn their car and go back the way they came.

Something happened to the car and it refused to move. The engine would run for a few revolutions, but would not pull the cat. The noise of the exhaust could be heard for some distance, and soon some Mexican soldiers were seen approaching. Nothing was thought as the little company of men were still on American soil, and it was thought the Mexicans would stop as soon as they came to the boundary. They were mistaken, however, as they kept coming and soon surrounded the party.

There were fourteen soldiers in the party, and they ordered the men to come with them. The Americans refused to go, saying that they could not force them to cross the border. They were told in answer that they had better come, as they were wanted for blowing up a bridge.

McInerny (sic) and his companions explained that they were on their way to Naco on business. Carraway was the superintendent of the light plant at Naco, but the soldiers would not listen to them and proceeded to search the car. A box of percussion caps were (sic) found in the bottom of the machine, and the Mexicans were then even more insistent that the Americans come with them.

The leader of the party finally ordered his men back a few paces and ordered them to level their guns at the party, saying they would be shot if they did not comply. The seriousness of the situation of their predicament dawned on the three, and they realized that they had better comply with the orders of the Mexican officer. None of the men could account for the presence of the percussion caps in the car and to this day McInerny (sic) declares that he has no idea of how they came there.

The men were led to a little cabin that had been taken from its owner, who was a Carranza adherent (McInerny's (sic) captors were of the Villa (i.e., Poncho Villa) faction), where their hands were tied, and they were marched to a railroad grade. There were eight soldiers as guard, four of whom were mounted and the others walked. They crossed the Verz Cruz River, and the four men who were walking were taken on back of the mounted soldiers, the Americans being forced to wade.

They walked down the railroad track for some distance, when a train was flagged, and they were taken to Nogales, Sonora. Their arms were never released from the time they were captured, which was some time between 7 and 8 o'clock in the evening, until they reached Nogales, about midnight.

From this point on the story is best told in the words of McInerney: "We were immediately thrown in the jail at Nogales, and Carraway was led away to be interviewed by the military commander. He must have had a terrible time of it, as he afterward told me that they took him out into the graveyard and stood him beside a newly made grave and told him they were going to shoot him.

They asked him if he had anything further to say. He had already denied any knowledge of the blowing up of the bridge, and he answered, nothing except that he would like to say a prayer. He was denied this right, however, and finally he happened to think of a man he knew in Nogales. He told them he knew this man and asked that they call him. He was brought back, and then I was taken before the commandant.

"As I entered the room, someone handed me a slip of paper on which was written, 'Take this man out and shoot him where we shot the other American.' The prefect, or mayor, as he would be called in this country, was conducting the examination and asked me if I knew Carraway. I told him that I had met him a couple of days before in Nogales. He then inquired if I ever expected to see him again, and I answered that I hoped so.

"He then told me that I would never see Carraway, as they had shot him and that he had been buried for half an hour. After telling me that they took me outside and led Wilson in for his examination. I had been in the room probably three-quarters of an hour and had explained as nearly as they would let me just how I happened to be where they found me and that I neither had anything to do with blowing up a bridge nor knew anything of such a plan.

"They kept Wilson in the room for half an hour, and then they brought him out again. He had gone through with practically the same sort of questioning they had given me, and we were both sure that it was only a matter of a short time before we too met the fate we thought had been Carraway's.

"All during the time they were questioning me, they would interrupt and tell me to tell the truth, and insisted that I had placed some dynamite under the bridge but that a Mexican had taken it away before it exploded.

"After examining me, they gave me some paper covered with writing in Spanish and told me that was my statement. They had a stenographer there who was supposed to be taking my testimony, but as I couldn't read Spanish, and consequently didn't know what was written on the sheet, I refused to sign. One of the officers in the room pulled his revolver and pointed it at me, and I finally place my signature where they directed.

-- United States Consul Was Kind --
"About 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, they put us in the prison at Nogales, and we found Carraway there. The regular prison food was black coffee, frijoles (beans), and bread, but we were allowed to send out for our food and later found that it was the United States Consul who was paying for the meals.

"The first time we saw the council (sic) was after we had been in the Nogales prison for several days we were taken out and taken on a train to a place where a bridge had been blown up. In company with us was a tramp, who was an American, and a British subject, all five of us being prisoners. The tramp was also accused of being implicated in blowing up bridges and after they had questioned him awhile confessed. He also stated, however, that he had never seen any one of we three or the Englishman before and that we had nothing to do with it.

"It was here that Concul (sic) Fred Simpish took a hand. He asked that we be allowed to go free as we had evidently had nothing to do with the blowing up of the bridge, but his request was refused and the judge who was with the party asked that he be allowed to take us with him to Hermasillo. Mr. Simpish refused this, and we were taken back and placed in the jail at Nogales.

"We were kept there some time during all of which the consul was a regular caller. He supplied us with blankets, which were a relief after having had to sleep on the bare cement floor for six nights, and also brought magazines and papers for us to read. We saw that we were allowed to send out for our food and in other ways added much to make the time we spent in prison bearable.

-- Simpish a Real Friend --
"I want to say right here that Mr. Simpish is a real gentleman and did everything in his power to have us liberated. He wired Washington and did everything a person could do, and I am anxious that he get the credit.

"Well, after we had been in Nogales, we were finally taken to Hermosillo and placed in a prison there. The prison was almost as large as the one at Fort Madison and was the filthiest place I ever saw. The Mexicans were never clean, and they were thrown into the cell with us. Baths were almost unknown and at the time we went almost two weeks without having an opportunity of bathing or changing our clothing.

"For a time we were in a large cell in company with other prisoners, and to show the company we were forced to endure, one of the prisoners was a murderer, having killed his wife, his child, and his mother and father-in-law; another was a counterfeiter, and the other two were thieves.

"There was no time allowed for exercise and the only chance we had to get any relief from the idleness was when we were handed a broom and told to clean out our cell.

-- Tortured by Doubts --
"During all this time there was the anxiety to endure and the constant thought before us that they might at any time take us out and shoot us as they had done to so many others as innocent as we were. The newspapers there had taken up our case and had made us out the worst sort of criminals, and the front pages were covered with such statements as, 'Shoot them now or never;' 'Kill the Americans,' and others as interesting.

"We were in the Nogales jail just one month before we were taken to Hermosillo, where we were incarcerated for twelve days. We were examined every few days and were constantly reminded that our ultimate fate would be to be taken out and shot down. Wilson finally became tired of the incessant grillings and told the judge that they could just form their own conclusions, as they would do so anyway, and there was no use in his telling anything. He was placed in solitary confinement for this and kept in one of the cells where the prisoners were drowned. He was in that cell only two hours but in that time suffered all the tortures of the damned.

"The water seeps in through the walls of the cell, which is underground, and a prisoner who has made his presence no longer to be desired is placed there, and the water is allowed to come in until finally he is drowned.

-- United States Starts to Get Busy --
"Finally, Mr. Simpish got in touch with the department in Washington, and they secured Mr. M. C. Little, an American attorney of Mexico City, to defend us He is a smart man, and it is probably due to his efforts that we were taken back to Nogales and were examined.

"This time they treated us much better, and finally, in company with the consul and some of the officers of the army, we three were taken to the line and told to tell how we were captured and where the place was that the auto was standing. We were taken there separately, and as our stories tallied there was little else for the Mexicans to believe than that we were innocent. In fact, I don't believe they really thought we were guilty at any time.

-- Were Fine on Windup --
"After being taken back to Nogales again, we were told that we would be liberated the next day, and from that time to the evening of the next day, when we were taken to the border and allowed to pass into the United States, we could wish for no better treatment. They tried everything to make us forget the month and a half of hardships and provations (sic) we had endured, and the judge who had tried so hard to make us own up that wheat blown up the bridge, was the most insistent in his demands that wecome (SIC) back sometime soon and make a visit. Needless to say, I never intend to take advantage of that invitation, though."

"On Thanksgiving eve we were escorted to the Mexican border, and the Mexican officials removed their hats to us and wished us good fortune in the trip home. We raised our hats and thanked them for their good wishes and made for Nogales as fast as we could go. We were subpoenaed as soon as we reached the city as witnesses in a case there but were not detained. The first thing I did was to wire home that I was out of Mexico and was safe, and the next thing was to go to a restaurant and get something to eat.

-- Real Cause for Thanks --
"We had Thanksgiving dinner in Nogales as the guests of the authorities there, and on the day following I started home. I made a few stop offs and arrived here Saturday."

During his entire narrative Mr. McInerney seemed to almost live over the terrible hardships he was forced to undergo, and when he spoke of the cruelty of some of the Mexicans, his eyes would glitter and it would be evident that the man who was guilty of the treatment had better keep clear of the Iowa lad.

The adventures of the 21-year-old lad read like the tales of some fanciful story writer but are all the more terrible when it is realized that they are all actual happenings. The trio were, of course, innocent of any connection with the crime with which they were charged, and the finding of the percussion caps is the one thing that gave the Mexicans the slightest right to take the men into custody. Even then they were in United States territory, and the arresting party violated all laws of neutrality when they crossed the border and arrested the men.

There was a chauffeur with the party, but he was released shortly after having been arrested. The machine was requisitioned but later repaired and returned to the owners in Nogales, Ariz.

In the words of the principal actor of the drama, "It's enough excitement to do me the rest of my life, and there is one thing I want to tell the people of this country, and that is to keep away from Mexico."

Yesterday's Associated Press dispatches stated that Villa was investigating the case of the three Americans, but Mr. McInerney is skeptical as to results. He lost his clothing and a good gold watch.

Family Members






  • Created by: Gerald Miller
  • Added: 2 Mar 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 106069912
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Raymond “Jack” McInerney, Sr (24 Apr 1892–5 Oct 1988), Find A Grave Memorial no. 106069912, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Willard, Huron County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Gerald Miller (contributor 48062551) .