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James Alexander Duffield

James Alexander Duffield emigrated with his parents from Ireland to the United States at age 2 and was orphaned at the age of 18.

When James Alexander Duffield was born on January 23, 1882, in Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland, his father, Samuel Duffield, was 24 and his mother, Elizabeth (née Robinson), was 26. He had one sister.

James was only 14 when his mother died in 1896, and he was just on the cusp of adulthood when his father died in 1900.

The next record we find is on September 12, 1918, when James filled out a draft registration for the FWW. At the time, he was living at 79 East Transit in Providence, Rhode Island (GoogleMaps appears to show any building at this address has been removed in favour of a parking lot). The record suggests he had a medium height and build, blue eyes and reddish hair. At the time of the registration, James was not a U.S. Citizen (the record suggests he was English, but we know he was Irish).

U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 (image via

James worked at “J.H. Preston” at 13 Dyer Street as a Teamster. (J.H. Preston and Co. was a Commission Merchant and wholesale dealer in foreign and domestic fruits and produce. His business on Dyer Street was one of the largest in the country.)

J.H. Preston & Co.

James’ sister (Mrs. P.J. “Egan”) is listed on the registration as his next of kin, suggesting at the age of 36, he had not married. The record suggests that James had a right leg injury and a scar on the little finger on his left hand.

James petitioned for naturalization on October 1, 1918. This record suggests that he was 5’5″ tall, weight 155 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes, and confirms the information contained in his draft registration (he’s a Teamster and still unmarried, living on East Transit Street). The 1920 Census contains similar information at the same address, but after this I’ve found no further information (including the 1930 census).

Although I don’t have confirmation as I haven’t been able to find a death record, obituary or a burial, I believe that James may have died in about December 1936, as the last record of him is a note in his Social Security record.

Main image: Dyer Street, Rhode Island
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AG Knapper

AG Knapper

AG has been researching her family tree since 2004, and it now includes over 7,000 ancestors and their descendants. She aspires to permanently record the stories before they're lost to time. Do you want to read her latest research? Use this link to sign-up for a weekly newsletter so you never miss a story! Do you know this family? Comment below or use the contact form and help make these stories richer.

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