Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 15, 1896
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs Blanche Maxwell, mother, 115 East 4th Street, Aberdeen, Washington, USA
Trade / CallingBookkeeper/Stenographer
Service Details
Regimental Number2268521
BattalionHeadquarters Detachment
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
Branch91st Division 116th Field Artillery
Date of EnlistmentOctober 2, 1917
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 15, 1962
Age at Death66
Buried AtWashington Memorial Park Cemetery, Seattle, Washington

Maxwell, James Blythe

James Blythe Maxwell was born on 15 January 1896 in Keewatin in northwestern Ontario near present day Kenora. In early years he went by the name of Blythe while in later years as James. His father James Wellington Blythe Maxwell, a saw filer, was from Chelsea, Quebec a community about ten kilometres north of Ottawa. His mother Blanche Susanna Wolfraim was from the Township of Percy, Northumberland East in Ontario. The couple married on 1 October 1891 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora). Their first child, a male, was stillborn in January of 1894. Following James, daughter Blanche Hazel was born in 1898, William Alexander in 1900, Guy Erwin in 1903, and Harry Edward in 1906, all in Keewatin. The Maxwell family moved to the United States in March of 1907, living in Cosmopolis, Washington at the time of the 1910 US census. Daughter Sarah Margaret was born in 1911, and they later moved to nearby Aberdeen.

James was living in Aberdeen and working as a bookkeeper/stenographer when he signed his Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on 4 May 1917. He signed his WW1 US Draft Registration card the next month, noting that he was a commissioned officer with the US Naval Militia. Remarks on the card indicated that he was discharged from federal service on account of not having his final discharge for the Naval Militia. James was next inducted at Montesano, Washington on 2 October 1917. The witnesses for James’ Petition for Naturalization that he signed in May of 1918 were officers at Camp Lewis in Washington, noting that they had known him since 17 November 1917.

Promoted to Corporal on 2 December 1917, to Sergeant on 22 January 1918, and to Regimental Sergeant Major on 1 May 1918, James served during the war with the Headquarters Detachment of the 166th Field Artillery Brigade, 91st Division. With his mother in Aberdeen given as next of kin, James left New York for overseas aboard the Adriatic on 14 July 1918. Embarking from Brest, France on 23 March 1919, he returned to New York aboard the Aquitania. He was honourably discharged on demobilization on 21 April.

After the war James returned to Aberdeen, found living with his parents and most of siblings and working as a bookkeeper for a lumber company at the time of the 1920 census. On 20 August 1921, in Spokane, Washington, James married Virginia Sylvia Bauer. Born on 25 September 1896 in Leavenworth in Kansas, Virginia was the daughter of Pius Bauer and Mary Catherine Cook.

James and Virginia were to make Spokane their home where James worked as a salesman, 1930 census listed as paint and oils and 1940 as glass and paint. At the time of the 1940 census a fourteen year old son James, born in Aberdeen, was listed with the family but by other accounts he was the son of James’ brother Guy and perhaps was just living with James and Virginia at the time. Around 1942 James and Virginia moved to Portland, Oregon where Virginia died on 20 March 1945. On 10 May 1945, in Portland, James married widow Martha Bertha (née Nelson) Davidson. The daughter of Danish immigrants Nels Nelson and Tine Hanson, Martha was born on 10 April 1898 and grew up in Aberdeen. Her first husband Tory Lyon Davidson had died in 1941. Together Martha and Tory had one daughter, Beverly Ann.

James died on 15 August 1962 at his home on Santa Monica Street in Portland. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Martha, stepdaughter Beverly Olson of Mercer Island, Washington, sisters Hazel (Girard) Chamberlin of Spokane and Sarah (Ralph) Vammen of Pomona, California, and brothers Guy of San Francisco, William of Aberdeen, and Harry of North Bend, Oregon. He was predeceased by his mother Blanche in 1932 and father James in 1950, both in Aberdeen. Siblings Blanche later died in 1969, likely in Spokane, Guy in 1969 in Walla Walla, Washington, William in 1979 in Aberdeen, Sarah (Archie) Zabel in 1980 in Los Angeles, California, and Harry in 1982 in North Bend. James’ wife Martha died on 3 May 1974 in Mercer Island. James is interred in the Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Seattle.

By Judy Stockham

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