Friday, January 8, 2021

James Athya, an update

Last week I wrote about a new photo I found of George Durie Athya, my husband’s grandfather. But that wasn’t the only new piece of information I discovered in my random Athya search. I also found the birth date of George’s nephew, James Athya. Having previously written about James, I had done extensive research on him but had been unable to find his birth or death dates. But as we know, new records are posted all the time, so it pays to keep looking. In this case, it was James’ World War II draft registration card that provided his date of birth, as well as several other clues.

James’ registration card, dated October 16, 1940, shows he was born on October 3, 1919. It also shows his place of birth as Steubenville, Ohio, not Bellshill, Scotland. The records aren’t always correct, even when filled out by the person themselves. 

James' World War II draft registration card

We know James sailed on the S.S. Transylvania with his father Robert, sister Margaret, and brother Robert Jr. The Transylvania left Glasgow, Scotland on June 6, 1930 and arrived at Ellis Island in New York on June 15. The ship manifest shows that James was born in Bellshill, not Ohio.

Partial manifest for the S.S. Transylvania (click to enlarge)

Other clues on James’ registration card include:

  • He lived with his father at 1156 Lincoln Avenue in Steubenville.
  • He was unemployed at the time the registration card was filled out.
  • His height was 5’ 8 ½” and weight 138 pounds. James had blonde hair.
  • The registration card is dated October 16, 1940 which means he was still alive then. We believe James died between 1940 and 1941 so this was a helpful clue. The card has the words “Deceased” and “Cancelled” written across the front. Too bad it doesn’t list the death date or when the record was marked with this information.
  • He had a friend named Miss Marjorie Carter. Marjorie must have been a good friend as she was listed as the person who would always know his address. She lived in Gip, West Virginia, a small community in Braxton County located in the middle of the state. The 1940 census dated April 3, 1940 shows James living at the Union Mission in Charleston, Kanawha, West Virginia. Marjorie lived in Pleasant, Barbour County, West Virginia, 39 miles from Charleston. In 1935, she lived with the Gus Campbell family in Braxton where she worked as a servant. She was 19 years old at the time. Who was she?

Majorie Carter in the 1940 census (click to enlarge)

There is still much to learn about James, mostly when he died and what caused his death at such a young age. I’d also like to learn more about his adventures with the carnival. I’ll keep looking.


  • James Athya, U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940–1947.
  • James Athya, List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival, List 17, S.S. Transylvania, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Pleasant, Barbour County, West Virginia, 1940.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1940.

No comments:

Post a Comment