James A. MacRae

No. 13193 James A. MacRae

Contained in an album at the Dorchester Historical Society of about 150 photos kept by Nathaniel R. Perkins, MD, who examined thousands of men who were going into the war, 1914-1918. Given by Mrs N. R. Perkins in accordance with instructions from her late husband, Dr. Nathaniel P. Perkins of 1122 Adams St, Dorchester. Index catalog has entries for the individuals.

James A MacRae Mattapan 101st Regiment Co H

James Alexander MacRae.  Written by Camille Arbogast.

James Alexander MacRae was born on June 10, 1894, in Boston. His parents, Alexander and Agnes (Lewis) McRae, were from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Agnes worked as a dressmaker prior to their marriage in Boston in September 1893. James had two brothers: John born in 1897 and Lewis, born in 1904. He also had a sister, Mary, who died at 21 months.

Alexander was a hoisting engineer. It appears he was not always able to find steady work in his field. On the 1900 census he reported working as janitor; in 1910, he had been out of work 15 weeks. In the early part of the century, the family moved regularly. In 1895, they lived at 19 Dillon Street in the South End. Five years later, in 1900, they resided at 561 Columbus Avenue. By 1905, they had moved to 26 Kempton Street in Roxbury; two years later they were living a short distance away at 12 Kempton Street. They then moved across Huntington Avenue to 8 Wait Street, where they were living by 1910. In 1913, they relocated to Mattapan, purchasing 141 West Selden Street.

At age fifteen, in 1910, James was working as a clerk for a gas company, while still attending school. In 1916, during the Mexican Expedition, when United States forces attempted to capture Mexican revolutionary Francisco, or Pancho, Villa, James served with the 9th Massachusetts Regiment along the United States-Mexico border. By June 1917, he was back in Dorchester and working as a salesman.

During the First World War, James mustered as a Private in the 9th Massachusetts Infantry, which was later reclassified as the 101st Infantry of the 26th Division, or Yankee Division. James served in H Company. He sailed for Europe on September 7, 1917, on the USS Pastores, leaving from Hoboken, New Jersey. On February 23, 1918, James took part in the 101st Infantry’s “first big raid” on German trenches, which resulted in the capture of 25 German prisoners. For his participation he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. He was also praised in General Orders on April 15, 1918; according to a Boston Globe story, he was “cited for gallantry and especially meritorious service in action against the enemy.” The Boston Post reported in March 1918, that James was a Corporal and this was the rank later used on his military issued headstone. When he returned to the United States on May 25, 1919, on the USS Freedom, he was listed as a Private First Class in the 214th Military Police Company.

James married Florence G. Duffy on October 24, 1920. Florence, who lived at 3 Standish Street in Dorchester, was a stenographer. Reverend Edward D. Maguire of Saint Angela’s Church on Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan performed the service. The couple moved into the second unit at 141 West Selden Street, where they remained for the rest of James’s life. They had one son, James A., Jr.

In the early 1920s, James worked as a stationary engineer. In April 1922, he was hired by the City of Boston as a hoisting engineer, for a term of no more than six months. In June 1922, James was appointed a Boston City Patrolman, assigned to Division 19 in Mattapan. He thwarted a robbery in March 1923, going undercover as the collector of the Mattapan National Bank and arresting the three young men who were believed to be planning to rob the collector. The next month, he was commended by the Police Commissioner for “meritorious police work.” He resigned from the police force in September 1925. For the rest of the decade he sold automobiles.

James died in Mattapan on January 11, 1931. A Solemn High Mass was celebrated for him at St. Angela’s Church. He was buried in New Calvary Cemetery in Mattapan.


Birth Record, Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook); Ancestry.com

Family Tree, Ancestry.com

US Federal Census, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930; Ancestry.com

“Pancho Villa Expedition,” Wikipedia.org, last edited on 9 November 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Villa_Expedition>

Sibley, Frank P. “With the Yankee Division in France” [excerpt from book], Boston Globe, 27 April 1919: 71; Newspapers.com

“France Decorates Corporal MacRae,” Boston Post, 27 March 1918:18; Newspapers.com

“New England Boys Who Won Honors Fighting in France,” Boston Globe, 9 May 1918: 4: Newspapers.com

The Book of Salutation to the Twenty-sixth (“Yankee”) Division of the American Expeditionary Forces. Boston: Committee of Welcome Appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston, 1919; Archive.org

Marriage Record, “Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920,”Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States, State Archives, Boston; FamilySearch.org

City Record, Official Publication of the City of Boston, 1922, City of Boston Printing Department, 1922; Archive.org

“Commissioner Appoints 12 New Patrolmen,” Boston Globe, 6 June 1922: 6; Newspapers.com

“Patrolmen Commended by Police Commissioner,” Boston Globe, 5 April 1923:13; Newspapers.com

“Foil Plot to Rob Collector of Bank,” Boston Globe, 10 March 1923: 1; Newspapers.com

City Record, Official Publication of the city of Boston, 1926, City of Boston Printing Department, 1926; Archive.org

Deaths, Boston Globe, 12 January 1931: 11; Newspapers.com

Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941.Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Ancestry.com



Posted on

April 6, 2022

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