Dorchester Illustration no. 2429 James Patrick Stuart
At the Dorchester Historical Society, we are in the process of a year-long project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. Using a collection of photographs we have of WWI Dorchester residents, we will be featuring servicemen in a number of short biographies throughout the year. At the culmination of the project, we hope to produce an online exhibit that highlights these men and their service to our country.
Our next biography features: James Patrick Stuart.
Written by Julie Wolf.
James Patrick Stuart was born in Dorchester on May 14, 1896, to Peter M. Stuart, a stonemason at the time, and Margaret McKenna. Peter had emigrated from Scotland in 1889; Margaret, the daughter of Irish immigrants, had emigrated from Canada in 1889. The family, along with his two younger sisters, Margaret and Rachel, would live at the address of James’s birth, 19 Monson Street, for close to two decades. The family’s last name was frequently misspelled “Stewart” in various documents that appeared in the paper trail.
When James was 21 years old, he registered for the draft, employed as an iceman by the Milton Ice Company. The city directory for 1917 also shows that he worked as a chocolate maker at the Baker Chocolate Company during this year. (James’s father had been employed at the chocolate mill in 1900, when James was a baby. Baker, the nation’s first successful chocolate producer, provided work for a vast number of Dorchester residents during the early twentieth century.) Within the year, on April 26, 1918, James enlisted in the Regular Army National Guard, Enlisted Reserve Corps, at Camp Devens, a private in Company A, 302nd Infantry. On July 3 of that year, he went overseas, serving at a camp near Bordeaux for three months before transferring to Company H, 318th Infantry.
By the time James was discharged on June 9, 1919, his parents and sisters had moved to 23 (or 25) Freeland Street in Mattapan, a home his father owned, according to the 1920 census. James held a job as a grocery store clerk in 1920 before becoming a patrolman for Division 6 of the Boston Police Department from 1920 to 1922. His career as an officer ended ignominiously. Although details of the inciting incident are scant, on August 10, 1922, the Boston Globe reported that James was “finally dismissed” after being “found guilty of untruthfulness” regarding charges that stemmed from his alleged participation in a “Houghs Neck party” in Quincy.
In 1924, in Brookline, James married Boston-born Marion Teresa Conroy, like his own mother, the daughter of Irish immigrants. Following his dismissal from the police force, James had again taken work as a clerk at the chocolate mill. The next years saw several address changes within Dorchester for the couple and their sons, James, born around 1927, and Robert, born around 1931. They rented homes at 73 Ridgewood Street, possibly 107 Mt. Ida Road, 27 Selden Street, and finally 102 Bloomfield Street, where they would remain until the late 1950s.
Tragedy struck the family on June 17, 1950, when their elder son James, returning home after a dance, was killed in a head-on car crash in Pembroke that took the life of one other young man and injured approximately seven others. James was 24. Almost four years after the accident, in February 1954, Suffolk Superior Court awarded James $11,020 for his son’s death.
For most of the rest of his life, James worked as a janitor or custodian, first at Curtis Hall, currently the site of Boston Centers for Youth & Families, and then at what the Boston city directories describe as “City Buildings Division.” In 1957 or 1958, James and Marion moved from their longtime home at 102 Bloomfield to 17 Becket Street, where they lived from 1959 to at least 1963. The 1966 city directory finds James retired and living with Marion in an apartment at 10 Rockwell Street. He died in Milton on August 11, 1968, survived by his wife, their son, and his two sisters. His funeral was held in Dorchester, his home until almost the end of his life. His obituary noted that he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 180 of the Lower Mills area, and a World War I veteran.
“$52,256 Verdicts Awarded in 1950 Pembroke Crash.” Boston Globe, February 25, 1954: 3.
“Accidents (cont’d from Fogg Museum Official Struck Riding Bicycle, Critically Injured.” Boston Globe. June 18, 1950: 13.
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2002.
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1840-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Marriage Index, 1901-1955 and 1966-1970 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
“Dorchester Man Killed in Crash.” Boston Globe, June 17, 1950: 1.
FamilySearch.org. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, database with images. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
FamilySearch.org. United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, database with images. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
“James P. Stuart.” Dr. Perkins WWI Photo Collection.
“Stuart Dismissed from Police Force: Final Action Follows Second Hearing: Division 6 Patrolman One of Party at Houghs Neck.” Boston Globe, August 10, 1922: 3.
“Stuart (James P.).” Boston Globe, August 13, 1968: 35.
“Stuart (Marion).” Boston Globe, July 27, 1977: 50.
“Stuart (James P.).” Boston Globe, June 18, 1950: 63.
[Do not reply to this email. If you have a comment or question please email [email protected]]
Become a member of the Dorchester Historical Society
Check out the Dorchester Historical Society's online catalog at
The archive of these historical posts can be viewed on the blog at
The Dorchester Historical Society's historic houses are open on different dates. The Lemuel Clap House (1712 and remodeled 1765) at 199 Boston Street is open on the third Saturday of each month. The James Blake House, 735 Columbia Road (1661) and the William Clap House, 195 Boston Street (1806) are open on the third Sunday of each month. Open hours are 11 am to 4 pm.